Capital Punishment

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Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment is regarded by most as a successful deterrent to murder, but that is because these people don’t look at it as it is applied. According to retributivists such as Kant and Van Den Haag the guilty deserves to be punished. On the other hand, people against the death penalty like Bedau think that the death penalty is just as much an effective deterrent as life in prison.

The most famous retributivist Kant, states that the guilty ought to get punished because they chose to act wrongly, and by punishing them, we are respecting them as a moral agents. This occurs because humans are given the ability to reason and act morally and thus if we don’t punish them we are not treating them as moral agents. Also, according to retributivists the punishment must fit the crime committed. Hence, if an offender commits a crime we must treat him as a moral agent and punish, but while corresponding the act to the punishment quantitatively and qualitatively. Thus a retributivist can be against the death penalty if the crime committed doesn’t fit the punishment given. This argument by Kant shows that offenders will get what they deserve when they commit a wrongful act, but some criminals or murderers don’t really know what is going on, thus they are not deserving of punishment. Kant believes in universalizing the maxims which you act on, hence a murderer has willed that the same thing be done to him which makes the death penalty morally required according to Kant(Kant, pg 240). This shows that Kant is a strong supporter of the death penalty because without it how would we be able to rightfully punish murderers. Therefore all murderers ought to be sentenced to death row and if they are not proven inno...

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...idivist murders, in which murderers are given the opportunity to kill innocent people while they are sentenced. Therefore, no matter how you look at it the retributivists have two risks while Bedau only has one. It is true that murderers deserve to die, but how do you make sure it’s those people who die and not innocent people like Roy Roberts. Its always arbitrary and discriminatory as it is applied, while it is not even being an effective deterrent to other criminals, and its costs are twice as a life sentence in prison. Thus, if you are a supporter and you can’t come up with an answer to any of these arguments, then you are a false supporter and should re-think your views. The only argument for the death penalty is that in theory it could be agreeable because it seems as though it would deter criminals but in practice there are too many arguments against it.
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