Capital Punishment: Moral, Effective, or Barbaric?
PHI103 Informal Logic
Instructor: Philip Bence
June 11, 2013
Capital Punishment: Moral, Effective, or Barbaric?
Public support for capital punishment has eroded across the nation, largely because Americans are ambivalent. Many think that capital punishment is acceptable, but they are apprehensive about innocent people being executed. As the political debate of the past two decades centered on wrongful convictions and death row exonerations, to a greater extent, more Americans judged capital punishment as blatantly immoral and unfair. In 2012, one hundred seventy-two people were executed regionally in the U.S. Proponents maintain that capital punishment is an effective deterrent to criminals who contemplate the commission of a capital offense. On the contrary, criminals are not afraid of capital punishment. The less that capital punishment can lawfully be used, the more it will cease to deter capital crimes at all. I
Capital Punishment Has Split the Country in Two
One of the more controversial issues in America today is the capital punishment. According to (Jeffrey M. Jones, 2012) of the Gallup News, “Some Americans tend to believe the capital punishment is applied fairly in this country, though a substantial number believes it is not. Nearly half of Americans say the capital punishment is not imposed often enough.” American support for the capital punishment plateaued to the low 60s in recent years, after several years in which support was losing ground. Sixty-three percent now favor the capital punishment as the punishment for murder, comparable to 61 percent in 2011, and 64 percent in 2010. Support for capital punishment is higher this year. (Jones, 2012). II
Over half of the Country Believes Capital Punishment Is Unfairly Applied The Gallop poll reflects that a little over half of Americans believe the capital punishment is applied fairly in this country, while 40% say it is applied unfairly. The new Gallup data reveal many differences by subgroup in regard to the fairness of the capital punishment. While 58 percent of whites believe it is applied fairly, the majority of non-whites, 54 percent, believe it is not.
Similarly, 63 percent of conservatives say the capital punishment is applied fairly while 56 percent of liberals say it is applied unfairly. A majority of those with post-graduate educations say the capital punishment is applied unfairly, but a majority of every other educational group believes it is used in a fair manner. Furthermore, while a majority of each age group believes the capital punishment is applied fairly, those between the ages of 18 and 29 are much more likely to express this view. (Jones, 2002). III
Retributivist Theory - an Eye for an Eye
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) a model of the Retributivist theory of punishment did not assert the only appropriate policy or theory of criminal justice that supports the punishment of criminals in retribution for the harm they inflicted. Kant did not limit the value of punishment to Retributivist matters. "Punishment," he wrote, can have as its justification only the guilt of the criminal. However, all other uses of punishment, such as rehabilitation, or deterrence, use the criminal merely as a means." (Kant, 1785, Metaphysics of Morals, 6:331). Once the guilt was determined, Kant did not deny that something useful could be drawn from the punishment. (Zalta, 2012). In Retributivist theory, criminal guilt is required for punishment. The appropriate type and amount of punishment is also determined by the crime itself. This is the traditional heart of the ancient injunction "an eye for an eye". Kant supported this measurement for punishment. All other measurements brought into consideration elements besides severe justice that would measure the usefulness of possible penalties of deterrence. He recognized that "like for like" is not always...
References: Banner, S. (2002). The Death Penalty: An American History. American Council of Learned Societies. New York: Harvard University Press. (eBook). Retrieved from: http://www.worldcat.org/title/death-penalty-an-american-history/oclc/244341493?referer=di&ht=edition
David, S. (2006). Elements of Justice. New York: Columbian University Press. Retrieved from: http://www.davidschmidtz.com/david-schmidtz/books/elements
Delfino, M. & Day, Mary E. (2007). Death Penalty USA 2005 – 2006. Tampa, Florida: Better MoBetter Publishing. Retrieved from: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=3086135123&searchurl
Jones, J. M. (2012) Slim Majority of Americans Say Capital punishment Applied Fairly. Support for the capital punishment higher than in recent years. Gallup News Service. Copyright © 2013 Gallup, Inc. Retrieved from: http://www.gallup.com/poll/6031/slim-majority-americans-say-death-penalty-applied-fairly.aspx
Hadfield, G. K., Weingast, B. R. (March 2013). Law without the State Legal Attributes and the Coordination of Decentralized Collective Punishment Journal of Law and Courts, (Vol. 1) pp. 3-34. The University of Chicago Press. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668604
Edward N. Zalta (ed.) (Summer, 2012). Kant 's Social and Political Philosophy. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2012/entries/kant-social-political
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