The Death Penalty: Thurgood Marshall and Burton Leiser's Kantian Arguments

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Alexandra Brito
Phi 231/Bulnes
Final Paper

The Death Penalty
Retribution is defined as a justly deserved punishment. Mainly used as a term that justifies the death penalty. In Retribution, the connection between punishment and guilt is that punishment is what justice feels that the criminal deserves for their crime. While guilt is when the criminal is sentenced and ensures that the punishment is sufficient to deter the guilty person from committing the same crime. The connection between punishment and guilt is that legal punishment must always be a response to guilt. A criminal that knows he/she is guilty for the crime they committed should get the right punishment under law. According to Gregg v. Georgia (1976), “The instinct for retribution is part of the nature of man, and channeling that instinct in the administration of criminal justice serves an important purpose in promoting the stability of a society governed by law”. Society shouldn’t have to take matters into their own hands. People argue that the death penalty is morally wrong because a criminal’s punishment should not be measured with what they inflicted on their victims. No matter what they did they are still human beings. There have been a lot of disagreements about whether the death penalty is morally correct or the right thing to do. I will show two different points between Thurgood Marshall and Burton Leiser through their Kantian arguments.

Marshall’s Kantian argument says that the offender is still a human being despite of the crime that they have committed. Unlike animals, human beings are rational and they understand their surroundings. Killing is wrong no matter who does it and who may deserve it. Human beings should not be killed as if they meant nothing. Marshall uses the word “disposing” in regards to using capital punishment on offenders. It is believed that the government should be responsible for instilling...
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