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James Rachels and Stuart Rachels Chapter 9 Review

Updated on August 27, 2012

Immanual Kant

Immanual Kant thinks of human beings as valuable, more valuable then animals. Animals are only valuable to us, not valuable as themselves. Although he feels torture of them is wrong, you are not to torture the animals because that behavior may become the behavior towards your fellow man. He feels that the animal is a means to an end, human beings being that end.

Kant believes that the morality requires us to treat persons a certain way. ’Always as an end and never as a means only’ Kant says that human beings have value that is above all else. Meaning that people have wants and an overall purpose. These things hold value related to the task.

Immanual Kant
Immanual Kant

“Things” such as animals or non-humans as Kant phrases it, are incapable of having a want or goal, only have value as a means to an end. Human beings give them the value. Kant continues to say that humans are able to make their own decisions, use reason and finding their goal which makes them rational agents. Rational agents need to ‘act from good will’ making moral goodness exist. And also needing to act from a sense of duty when doing it. So, if no rational beings existed, the moral component wouldn’t either.

Regarding Kants statement of rational beings being treated ’always as an end and never as a means only’ , this is tells us that we have a strict duty of beneficence towards others. For example, we must help - not harm others, respect and endorse their welfare. Therefore, furthering their ends. Kant also states we must not manipulate or use another to achieve your goal no matter how just the reason.

Regarding punishment, Jeremy Bentham he felt that "all punishment is mischief: all punishment is in itself is evil" Basically stating that because it is an evil act it requires justification. Such as: deprivation of property= fines. Deprivation of life: execution.


Retribution or Retributivism is “eye for an eye”- meaning do bad-get bad. It is a way of paying back the evil doer. The utilitarian says that in order to be a justified punishment it must have good consequences. They are thought to think of criminals as not responsible for their behavior. They need to be helped to change, for their good and the good of society. They would say punishment could be replaced with treatment, or rehabilitation, therefore gaining prevention of re-offending. Prisons have become “correctional facilities.” However, this approach has been less than successful. Bentham objects stating that retribution causes suffering without the gain of happiness. Kant believes that the punishment is justified because the offender deserves it. The criminal is a responsible being, who must pay for his crimes. Kant does believe that the punishment should fit the crime. Such as: murder= capitol punishment.

Rachels points out that Kant states that a rational being is someone who is capable of reasoning and can make his/her own decisions and is responsible for their actions.

Do Your Own Work!

I have decided to place the paper I wrote for my Ethics Class regarding James Rachels for students to turn to for maybe a clearer insight. I, personally, had a hard time figuring out the thoughts and methods of this authors writings and turned to the Internet for help.

I do hope you don't just "copy" my paper. First, because you will get caught, but most importantly, it's unethical to take credit where credit is not due. That's the point to the class right???


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