Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Capital Punishment Essay -- essays research papers
Capital Punishment Many positions can be defended when debating the issue of capital punishment. In Jonathan Glover's essay "Executions," he maintains that there are three views that a person may have in regard to capital punishment: the retributivist, the absolutist, and the utilitarian. Although Glover recognizes that both statistical and intuitive evidence cannot validate the benefits of capital punishment, he can be considered a utilitarian because he believes that social usefulness is the only way to justify it. Martin Perlmutter on the other hand, maintains the retributivist view of capital punishment, which states that a murderer deserves to be punished because of a conscious decision to break the law with knowledge of the consequences. He even goes as far to claim that just as a winner of a contest has a right to a prize, a murderer has a right to be executed. Despite the fact that retributivism is not a position that I maintain, I agree with Perlmutter in his claim that social u tility cannot be used to settle the debate about capital punishment. At the same time, I do not believe that retributivism justifies the death penalty either. In Martin Perlmutter's essay "Desert and Capital Punishment," he attempts to illustrate that social utility is a poor method of evaluating the legitimacy of it. Perlmutter claims that a punishment must be "backward looking," meaning that it is based on a past wrongdoing. A utilitarian justification of capital punishment strays from the definition of the term "punishment" because it is "forward looking." An argument for social utility maintains that the death penalty should result in a greater good and the consequences must outweigh the harm, thereby increasing overall happiness in the world. Perlmutter recognizes the three potential benefits of a punishment as the rehabilitation of an offender, protection for other possible victims, and deterring other people from committing the same crime. The death penalty however, obviously does not rehabilitate a victim nor does it do a better job at protecting other potential victims than life impriso nment. Since a punishment must inflict harm on an individual, deterrence is the only argument that utilitarians can use to defend the death penalty. The question then ari... ...able to murder someone because twelve rational people in a courtroom decided that it should be so? By the same token, a murderer can claim that their victim had violated their rights and did not deserve to live. Obviously that cannot be rationalized in any manner. No matter from what perspective it is viewed, capital punishment is murdering another human being. Even if a law is broken and the person has made the world a worse place to live, killing someone else can never be justified, especially by measuring its social utility. The world would be a better place if many people did not exist, but it would not be legitimate to exterminate everyone who does not increase the happiness in the world. Social utility cannot justify the existence of capital punishment, nor can it be used as rationale to reject it. Retributivism fails as well because the death penalty may be regarded as cruel and unusual punishment. Absolutism seems to be the only school of thought that cannot be logically dismantled. No evidence exists that would demonstrate the benefits of capital punishment and statistically the only thing that is accomplished is another death in society.