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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’s 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.


Title Page
Table of Contents

1.1       Background of the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Purpose of the Study
1.4       Significance of the Study
1.5       Scope of the Study
1.6       Methodology
1.7       Clarification of Concepts


3.1       Kant’s Life and Works
3.2       The Goodwill
3.3       The First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative; Universal Law Formulation
3.4 The Second Formulation of the Categorical imperative; Humanity as an End in it-self

4.1       The Concept of Person in Immanuel Kant
4.2       The Concept of Punishment in Immanuel Kant

5.1       Evaluation
5.2       Critique of Kant’s Moral Theory
5.3       Implications of Kant’s Moral Theory of Person and Punishment for the Nigerian Society
5.4       Summary and Conclusion



1.1       Background of the Study

According to a report by the Guardian Newspaper; Vol. 31, No. 13,270 that on 28th of April 2015, Indonesian government executed eight death row prisoners in Nusakambabgan prison near Cilacap in Central Java convicted in April 2005 for drug-related offences. The eight were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaja Salami and Okwudili Oyatanze, and Ghanaian Martin Anderson. The paper further stated that pleas for leniency from their families, international communities and diplomats were rejected by the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo. The researcher began to wonder on the sanity in this discernible event with certain pertinent questions which have to do with moral values. The researcher asked; what is the relevance of clemency in crime related cases especially crimes perilous to both human and societal values? Suppose clemency was granted to these drug related convicts, what becomes of deterrence, won’t people continue to commit the same crime with the anticipation that the same clemency might be offered in their own turn? What is justice? Finally, can justice be equated with mercy in the civil society?

A perennial moral question is always asked; why is it morally legitimate, permissible and possibly obligatory that a wrongdoer must be punished? Naturally, it is apparent that man’s natural instinct is for vengeance, but civilization demands that he should restrain his anger and go through a legal process, letting the outcome determine whether, and to what degree, to punish the offender. Moreover, the birth of civil society demands that man should not take the law into his own hands, but the laws should satisfy his deepest instinct when they are consonant with reason. Man’s instinct tells him that some crimes should be severely punished, but he should refrain from personally carrying out those punishments, committing himself to the legal processes. Hence, common reason holds that every wrongdoer deserves punishment and anyone who has violated the rights of others should be penalized, a failure to punish those who deserve it leaves guilt upon the society. Such feelings are deeply ingrained, at least in many cultures, and are often supported by notions of divine law. Therefore, if a civil society wishes to recognise the value of person and avoid miscarriage of justice, she must adopt systematic measures in balancing crimes with appropriate penalty. This becomes the basis of Immanuel Kant’s moral theory.

1.2       Statement of the Problem
The link between person and punishment is a problem facing both the traditional and contemporary man. In consideration of the daily punishment meted on human beings, government and international organizations have tried to enact policies/laws which will ensure that punishments are not unjustly carried out on individuals and also to protect and promote individual’s dignity and rights. For instance in Nigeria, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, states that one cannot be guilty of an offence unless the punishment to that offence is also prescribed by a written law. Again, one cannot be criminally and penally responsible for an act that did not constitute a crime at the time of its commission.

The problem this study intended to tackle is outlined thus: does punishment achieve justice? How does Immanuel Kant’s moral theory offer a suitable balance between person and punishment from a retributive point of view? Can one make up or counterbalance for punishment in case of genocide with retribution? What is duty? How do we know what morality requires of us? Finally, how does Kant’s moral theory offer answer to the notion that human life is so valuable despite its insistence on capital punishment?

1.3       Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to examine the concepts of person and punishment in Immanuel Kant’s moral theory with a view of showing their strengths and weaknesses. Other purposes of the study include: (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, consider the strengths and.....

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