Kant and Mills on Capital Punishment
Capital punishment has raised debate in America since 1608. Both the “pro-“ and “anti-“ sides of the issue have strong arguments. Some believe killing is simply wrong, and violates universal human rights, others seek the only justice they deem appropriate, equal justice. I will examine the philosophies of Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill, with regards to their stance on the death penalty.
John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806- 8 May 1873) was born in London, England. He was a renowned philosopher best known for his interpretation of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham. Utilitarianism is based on the concept that an actions morality should be judged solely upon its resulting …show more content…
Mills has a single objection to capital punishment but I will propose an additional issue. Mill recognizes the potential for unjustified incarceration and death; and he states, “that if by an error of justice an innocent person is put to death, the mistake can never be corrected; all compensation, all reparation for the wrong is impossible.” Mills discards the objection with relevance to the American court system. Mills considers our court system just, and willing to avoid false imprisonment at all costs, although for countries whose court system is not similarly just Mills cannot endorse capital punishment. Mills fails to address another circumstance, the circumstance of Stanley Tookie Williams. Mr. Williams was a co-founder and the Crips street gang and was sentenced to death for multiple murders. While in jail Mr. Williams rehabilitated himself and used his influence to speak out against gang violence in a successful attempt to reduce suffering. Mr. Williams is clearly the exception to the rule, a utilitarian must exempt Mr. Williams from death simply because while alive he was