Ethical Theory Of Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative

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The end does not justify the means. This was the principal ethical theory of Immanuel Kant and made up his ‘Categorical Imperative’, a deontological argument which showcased how certain actions are fundamentally wrong, such as murder, lying or torture and can therefore, never be justified. Contrastingly a utilitarian would claim that the ends do in fact justify the means and would enact a focus on outcomes in deciding whether or not an action is morally permissible. In 2002 Jakob Von Metzler, a boy of just twelve years, was kidnapped and a police officer threatened the kidnapper, Magnus Gafgen, with torture in an attempt to find and save the child. Gafgen told the officer that he had killed the boy and then disclosed the location of the body. The kidnapper was prosecuted and sentenced to life imprisonment; however the officer ‘was also prosecuted and convicted of violating the kidnappers rights’ (Sandel, 2011). This presents an interesting moral dilemma, can torture ever be justified? And was the officer acting in a morally respectable way? In this essay I will answer these questions by analysing the arguments which justify or condemn his actions, from both the utilitarian and deontological perspectives.…show more content…
In 2003 the US military relied on the confession taken from Sheikh al-Libi in which it was claimed that Iraq supplied both chemical and biological weapons to Al Qaeda. This testimony was used in the month leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Later al-Libi retracted his statement saying that he did so in order to make the torture stop. This is a clear example of the ineffectiveness of torture and the bad consequences it can often produce. The CIA had forgotten its own conclusion, sent to congress in 1989, that ‘inhumane physical or psychological techniques are counterproductive because they do not produce intelligence and will probably result in false answers.’ (Helgerson,
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