No Comment, Quotation — November 19, 2007, 12:00 am

Kant on the Price of Justice Foregone

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Das Strafgesetz ist ein kategorischer Imperativ, und wehe dem! welcher die Schlangenwindungen der Glückseligkeitslehre durchkriecht, um etwas aufzufinden, was durch den Vortheil, den es verspricht, ihn von der Strafe, oder auch nur einem Grade derselben entbinde nach dem pharisäischen Wahlspruch: »Es ist besser, daß ein Mensch sterbe, als daß das ganze Volk verderbe;« denn wenn die Gerechtigkeit untergeht, so hat es keinen Werth mehr, daß Menschen auf Erden leben.

The penal law is a categorical imperative, and woe to him who penetrates the snake coilings of the theory of happiness in order to find something which promises the advantage of freeing him from a punishment or even just a portion of the same in accordance with that saying of the Pharisees, “It’s better that one man die, than that the entire people perish;” for if justice goes, then what value remains for the human beings left living on earth?

Immanuel Kant, Metaphysik der Sitten, pt ii, sec 1 (1797) in: Sämtliche Werke in sechs Bänden, vol. 5, p. 455 (Großherzog Wilhelm Ernst ed. 1922)(S.H. transl.)

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