Lex Talionis Arguement Analysis

Decent Essays
Kant endorsed the principle of lex talionis, which states that that we should treat criminals as they treated their victims (182). “To punish criminals this way would be satisfying for the victims and can show the criminals what things are like for their victims” (Shafter-Landau, Russ. The Fundamentals Of Ethics, New York: Oxford University Press, 2015) (182). There are three objections to lex including the strongest objection which is “the guidance that lex provides, when it does prescribe a punishment, is sometimes deeply immoral” (184). The second is “lex cannot explain why criminals who intentionally hurt their victims should be punished more than those who accidentally caused harm” (183). The final argument is that “we cannot tell what…show more content…
Lex states “punishments should be set by the suffering of the victims. But victims can suffer the same harm, whether the perpetrator has carefully planned to cause it or has caused it by accident”(183). Someone acting recklessly and mistakenly harms someone should not be treated the same way as someone with the intent to harm or went through planning an attack. “If you kill, even by accident and get a lesser punishment than death, it is undermines the letter and spirit of lex talionis- that of offering precise guidance on how much criminals should be punished” (183). Another problem lex states is that it cannot tell us what many criminals deserve (184). This is saying that it is hard to determine how to punish for certain crimes (184). An example of those crimes, which are hard to punish is being possession of an illegal substance (184). It would be easier to enforce this argument for crimes such as murder and rape instead of crimes like speeding or possession of an illegal substance (184). It makes little sense to treat people the same as their victims in these circumstances (184).
In conclusion, the strongest objection is prescribing a punishment is sometimes deeply immoral. The other two objections are strong; however not as strong as prescribing a punishment is sometimes deeply
Get Access