Kant and the Morality of Anger

4094 Words Jun 22nd, 2018 17 Pages
Kant and the Morality of Anger


This essay does not comprise a defence of retributive punishment, neither does it imply a rejection of deterrent punishment. The writer suggests that one possible reason for the tendency to advocate punishment of offenders with ever increasing severity can be discovered in the concept of the 'morality of anger'. It is this explanation of the phenomenon that forms the principal burden of the arguments used in this essay.

The salient characteristics of the two theories of punishment, which find expression in English law, will be found below [1]. In the absence of any definitive public policy an unresolved tension exists, which derives from attempts made to reconcile the two theories,
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An offender must be found to be punishable before any assessment of benefit to the citizen or community is taken into consideration, because the punishment of the innocent is inherently a gross injustice. According to Kant the universal concept of retribution has priority over any and all consequential effects.

This rule is followed, and the crime suppressed, only when the convicted offender draws the evil deed back to himself, as a punishment, and when he suffers that which according to the penal law he has inflicted on others., Penalties are defined in the penal law, to which the offender is subject, and therefore they are invariant. It would, therefore, be morally wrong if those penalties were not to be inflicted on the offender in response to his crime.

Kant's general proposition is that of the 'equality of crime and punishment', which he illustrates by means of analogy. He likens justice to 'none other than the principle of equality in the movement of the pointer of the scales of justice.' However he does not argue explicitly for his 'principle of equality' and, if we examine his observations with respect to the punishments for robbery or rebellion against the state, then these seem to be implausible or unconvincing, because they seem to be overdrawn or unnecessarily harsh. And also because they do not make any allowance for extenuating or mitigating circumstances, or for irrational

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