For anyone living in Texas, it is common to hear about convicted criminals being sentenced to death. Is justice being served? When someone has committed a heinous murder, justice must prevail. But that ideal becomes harder to achieve as we scale the moral high ground and look all around, from behind the jail cell bars to the crushed life of the murdered victim.
The following essay will focus on the proportionality of the death sentence as a form of punishment.
First of all, if there were no persons in the world, only things, there would be no values. There are values in the world only because there are persons: people who have not only desires , but also rationality and freedom. Something is valuable only relative to a human goal. Then, as the source of values, humans have dignity, which Immanuel Kant defines in his Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals as something so valuable that nothing could transcend it in worth. It follows that to be human, to have dignity, one must value above all else those things which give you dignity. This means one must value absolutely the rationality, freedom, and autonomy of oneself, but also of other individuals. However; there are some crimes, some murders, committed with such violence and complete disregard for life, that we stop valuing the rationality, the freedom, and the autonomy of the murder so highly. The question is how much do we devalue the criminal?
Kant had some ideas about how to find out the proper level of punishment. First, guilt is a necessary condition for judicial punishment. That means that only the guilty may be punished. Second, guilt is a sufficient condition for punishment. All the guilty m…
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…re severe than the death sentence, could a death sentence be an escape from a life sentence? However, if the goal were to give the most severe sentence wouldn’t it be more accurate to find out what the criminal’s idea of personal hell was? Severity is not the goal of punishment, rather retributivism and proportionality are. To give equal treatment to all, each person, guilty and not guilty, must be considered independently of utility, pity, and revenge. To accurately handle crime, the act and the actor must be understood. Once understood, a punishment ought to be meted out on the basis of whether or not it is proportional and appropriate to the crime at hand. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what a jury thinks is proportional. Because I think that there can be no other match than death for death, I believe that capital punishment is justified.
The Moral Disagreement on Capital Punishment (Death Penalty)
Using Democratic Deliberation to Resolve the Moral Disagreement on Capital Punishment (Death Penalty)
Common American experience seems to suggest that a solution to every dilemma can be found through enough lobbying, legislating, media-blitzing or politicking. We often believe that the person arguing most eloquently, reasonably or forcefully will win every dispute, yet there are times when this optimism fails. Despite great efforts to show the strength of a position, there are arguments that we cannot untangle simply by proving our right and another’s wrong. Some moral questions permit such different outlooks that holders of completely opposing views can both be morally sound. Rather than trying to reason away one side we can only hope to understand each position well enough to acknowledge its critical elements and keep bitter dissension to a minimum.
Even with the most fundamental moral differences, we are often forced to make clear, unwavering decisions. Amidst a roar of incompatible claims about the need to protect the lives of fetuses and the freedoms of women, policy makers must conclusively decide if abortions will be legally available. Neither years of careful thought nor months of ferocious debate will yield an objectively right answer-some other method is clearly needed. The deliberative technique proposed here does not give automatic answers, but it does provide progress towards making hard choices.
This idea of democratic deliberation does not demand that all 270 million US citizens enter into debate or cast votes in binding referendum. Such a large and varied state makes this impossible and less obviously, such stark majoritarianism also ignores the positions of a substantial minority. In efforts t…
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…tive discourse has a natural tendency to make the decision-making process more inclusive by embracing a wider field of views, whether they be of students, philosophers or Death Row inmates.
Clearly this method is not foolproof or universally applicable, yet deliberation is valuable for the simple reason that at its core, it is “a form of agreeing to disagree.” In many cases of deliberation there will be no obvious compromise to include all views so the most we can hope for is to accommodate the most strongly held points of each. Some groups will always be dissatisfied but we can try to limit the amount of moral discord created. Though we can disagree on opinions, there is little we can say or do to unsanctifiy one’s beliefs. Moral stances should not be silenced, but instead must be accounted for, as can be done within a framework of democratic deliberation.