Elaborate in detail the ethical positions arrived at by using the Kantian categorical imperative relative to the long-standing debate surrounding the death penalty or abortion. Argue the ethics from the point of view of the prisoner or from the fetus.
Using the First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative, one could claim that the death sentence is ethically wrong in this instance since it is impossible to wish that the death penalty becomes a universal law. The end of society would result from the execution of everyone who committed a crime. A prisoner would be treated as a tool to achieve society’s goal of justice rather than as a goal in and of themselves if they were put to death, which is against the Second Formulation of the Categorical Imperative.
On the other hand, one could contend that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for some crimes, including murder, and serves as a deterrence to others who might consider committing the same crimes. The death penalty may be permitted in this situation according to the First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative if it is an acknowledged form of punishment for these offenses and is not used arbitrarily or unfairly.
The Kantian categorical imperative’s application to the abortion debate is more complicated. From the perspective of the fetus, it may be argued that the unborn child has inherent worth and should not be used as a tool—such as in a woman’s decision to have an abortion—to achieve another goal. According to the Second Formulation of the Categorical Imperative, killing a fetus would be immoral because it would regard the child as a tool, not a living being.
Contrarily, proponents of abortion contend that a baby is not yet a person with inherent value and that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and control over her own life should be honored. According to this interpretation, the First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative would permit a woman to choose to have an abortion if it is a universally recognized right and that it is not exercised arbitrarily or unfairly.
As a result, the ethical conclusions drawn from discussing the death penalty and abortion using the Kantian categorical imperative are nuanced and open to several interpretations. The categorical imperative’s interpretation and one’s views on the intrinsic value of human life will determine what is morally right or immoral.
Muscente, K. K. (2020, July 13). Categorical imperatives and the case for deception: Part I: IRB blog: Institutional Review Board: Teachers college, Columbia University. Teachers College – Columbia University. Retrieved February 7, 2023, from https://www.tc.columbia.edu/institutional-review-board/irb-blog/categorical-imperativesLinks to an external site.
Internet encyclopedia of philosophy. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2023, from https://iep.utm.edu/death-penalty-capital-punishment/Links to an external site.
Kantian moral philosophy and the morality of abortion Ronni McCoy. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2023, from http://research.monm.edu/mjur/files/2019/02/MJUR-i01-2011-7-McCoy.pdfLinks to an external site.
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