Pick a side and argue capital punishment

Philosophy
Tutor: None Selected Time limit: 1 Day

Capital punishment morally permissible or morally obligatory.  Give at least two arguments supporting your position and two arguments opposing your position.  

Apr 25th, 2015

The state clearly has no absolute right to put its subjects to death although, of course, almost all countries do so in some form or other (but not necessarily by some conventional form of capital punishment). In most countries, it is by arming their police forces and accepting the fact that people will from time to time be shot as a result and therefore at the state's behest.

A majority of a state's subjects may wish to confer the right to put certain classes of criminal to death through referendum or voting in state elections for candidates favouring capital punishment. Majority opinion in some democratic countries, including the U.K., is still in favour of the death penalty.

It is reasonable to assume that if a majority is in favour of a particular thing in a democracy, their wishes should be seriously considered with equal consideration given to the downside of their views.

Arguments for the death penalty.Incapacitation of the criminal. Capital punishment permanently removes the worst criminals from society and should prove much safer for the rest of us than long term or permanent incarceration. It is self evident that dead criminals cannot commit any further crimes, either within prison or after escaping or after being released from it.

Retribution. 
Execution is a very real punishment rather than some form of "rehabilitative" treatment, the criminal is made to suffer in proportion to the offence. Although whether there is a place in a modern society for the old fashioned principal of "lex talens" (an eye for an eye), is a matter of personal opinion. Retribution is seen by many as an acceptable reason for the death penalty according to my survey results.

Arguments against the death penalty.There are a number of incontrovertible arguments against the death penalty.

The most important one is the virtual certainty that genuinely innocent people will be executed and that there is no possible way of compensating them for this miscarriage of justice. There is also another significant but much less realised danger here. The person convicted of the murder may have actually killed the victim and may even admit having done so but does not agree that the killing was murder. Often the only people who know what really happened are the accused and the deceased. It then comes down to the skill of the prosecution and defence lawyers as to whether there will be a conviction for murder or for manslaughter. 

A second reason, that is often overlooked, is the hell the innocent family and friends of criminals must also go through in the time leading up to and during the execution. It is often very difficult for people to come to terms with the fact that their loved one could be guilty of a serious crime and no doubt even more difficult to come to terms with their death in this form. One cannot and should not deny the suffering of the victim's family in a murder case but the suffering of the murderer's family is surely valid too.


Apr 25th, 2015

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