CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS OF PERSON AND PUNISHMENT IN IMMANUEL KANT’S MORAL THEORY

CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS OF PERSON AND PUNISHMENT IN IMMANUEL KANT’S MORAL THEORY

ABSTRACT

Deep in the mind of human beings lies the conviction that a rough sense of justice demands the infliction of proportionate loss and pain on the aggressor as he has inflicted on his victim; the prominence of the ‘an eye for eye’ in law. The Bible is no exception: in its oldest form, it too included the law of ‘measure for measure’. Traditionally, deontological justifications, utilitarian justifications, or a mix of the two have been advanced to justify the infliction of punishment upon wrongdoers. These theories teach that punishment achieves justice by making a felon to pay for the wrong he has done, and for the injured to feel compensated and protected. This was guided with the aim of deterring individuals from committing the same crime in future. With Kant, the concepts of person and punishment got different interpretations. He offers that punishment is important because it is a way of giving an offender what is his/her right to have, recognizes an offender as a rational being and it is an end in itself. Kant called this idea of punishment; retributive justice. It equally offers stringent measures to curb man’s inhumanity to man. Hence, it is on these postulations that this study argues in support that punishment achieves justice, equity and respect for one another. The objectives of this study are: – (i) to articulate the relationship between the concepts of person and punishment in Kant (ii) to show the relevance of Kant’s moral theory to the society, to consider the strengths and weaknesses of Kant’rs moral theory (iii) to highlight the implications of Kant’s conception of person and punishment for the contemporary Nigerian society. The documentary design was used for this study. Data for the study were sourced from books, journals, and biographies. Data were analysed using expository, interpretative and critical methods. When this was done, it became obvious that the concepts of person and punishment are actually experiencing controversies. The implication of this, in terms of practice, is that society needed help with proper knowledge of punishment as that which achieves justice.