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Capital Punishment

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Sofia Bedoya Lira

on 5 August 2014

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Transcript of Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment
Background Information
The first established death penalty laws date as far back as Babylon in the Eighteenth Century B.C.

William the Conqueror forbid being executed for any crime, except in times of war.

Under the reign of Henry VIII, as many as 72,000 people were executed.

Common methods of execution
Burning at the stake
Beheading, etc

Top 5 countries with most death penalties carried out per year
What is the capital punishment?
More commonly known as the "death penalty"
If the highest form of punishment, where the person found guilty is killed for their crimes
The crimes have to be considered capital crimes and they usually consist of murder
Real-life example
Murder of Stephanie Flores by Joran Van der Sloot.
He was charged with murder of 21-year-old Peruvian Stephany Flores, in Lima.
Van der Sloot was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
He was also ordered by court to give his victim’s family $75,000.
The moral principles governing or influencing conduct
The branch of knowledge concerned with moral principle

Inductive logic:
Ethics formulates a conclusion derived from obtained data or evidence
It determines what theories can explain the data
Induction does not prove that the conclusion is correct
Religious theories: based on faith and usually revealed through ‘divine revelation’.

The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods
A particular system of faith and worship.
A pursuit or interest followed with great devotion.

Religion uses deductive logic, were the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises.
Executions were carried out for capital offenses like marrying a Jew, not confessing to a crime, treason, etc.

Methods now include the lethal injection and

Over 2/3 of countries nowadays have abolished the death penalty
Knowledge Issue
To what extent is the capital punishment ethically viable?
1. China
2. Iran
3. North Korea
4. Yemen
5. USA
Must believe the action is right and be ready to justify it
The interests of someone other than oneself must be involved
One must act out of free will
The action must be deliberate

Ethical Codes:
Set of rules with a reason behind them
Based on a guiding principle

Areas of Knowledge and Ways of Knowing
Ethics and Religion→principal areas of knowledge.
Social Sciences


• Cycle of birth and re-birth
• It doesn’t solve their crime or those of humanity in general
• Will injure the mind of the person doing the punishment.

• Buddha:
“action, even if it brings benefit to oneself, cannot be considered a good action if it causes physical and mental pain to another being”
• Retribution

“Whoever shed the blood of a man, by man shall his blood be shed
” Genesis 9:6
Death penalty consistent with Old Testament teaching.
Crucifixion of Jesus.
By his crime, he has already dispossessed himself of his right to life
– Pope Pius XII

Only God should create and destroy life
The Bible teaching is inconsistent, depends on how it is interpreted.
Christianity is based on forgiveness and compassion
Life should always be supported

“Take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does He command you, so that you learn wisdom”
– Qur’an 6:151
Applied by a court for crimes of suitable severity.
Court is fully able to impose more lenient sentences when they see it appropriately.
In Islamic law, death penalty is appropriate for two groups of crime: Intentional murder or anyone who threatens to undermine authority/destabilize the state.

The Sharia law is often used by repressive powers that attack women and the poor.
Executing those who are accused denying them a lawyer, which contradicts to the concept of Islamic justice.
Self-Interest Theory
Aristotle: Everyone has goals in their life and we are quite entitled to pursue them
We can aim for these goals but we must achieve them in a virtuous way
State of "eudimania" (to be content with life)
Universal Law
"Do unto others as you would be done by"
Treat others the way you want to be treated (outlined by Kant)
It must be linked to the "Law of Respecting Others"
It needs reasoning:
It would not be possible in people with mental problems
It could be problematic in an "immoral society"
"The greatest good for the greatest number of people"

John Stuart Mill: If you could take an action that would make you unhappy, but make others happy you should do it
Other A.o.K
Social Sciences:
Is life imprisonment really more expensive than the death penalty? False
Death penalty cost: $1.6 million
Life imprisonment: $740 000
Therefore: Against capital punishment
Behaviour: Once the criminal is released from life imprisonment under parole they will return to their old lifestyle
Therefore: In favour of capital punishment
In the past, it was practised by most societies, as a punishment for criminals and political/religious dissidents. It was considered ethically viable, such as the Purges in Stalinist Russia.

The death penalty goes against this theory
One can fulfill their objectives but without harming others
The death penalty means killing someone, harming a third party to favour the victim or society itself
The death penalty also contradicts this theory
No mentally healthy person would choose to be killed, therefore, capital punishment
However, this creates a discussion of whether killers are mentally healthy or not
This is the only theory that would support the death penalty
The killing of a member of society that has harmed another member benefits more people than the one being killed
The greater good would be the permanent removal of a dangerous member from society
In Van der Sloot's case, capital punishment is ethically viable to a certain extent
However, it is still the life of a human being.
From the other hand, death penalty would be retribution of a life for a life.
No evidence that shows that states that use capital punishment have lower murder rates than those that don’t.
The decision depends mainly on the situation and context.
We have come to the conclusion that it is not ethically viable to carry out a death penalty
Religious Theories
The Self-Interest Theory
The Universal Law Theory
The Utilitarian Theory
Ethical Principles
Other Reasons
In favour (justify the death penalty)
Retribution and justice
Closure for the victims and their families
Japanese argument
Utilitarianism Law
Against (do not justify the death penalty)
Value of human life/the right to live
Execution of the innocent/unfair
Retribution is wrong
Self Interest Law
Universal Law

A cause, explanation, or justification
The power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgements logically

“instinctive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge”

What is the role of emotion in justification of ethical decision-making process, of imposing death penalty?
Strong emotions provoked by the crimes interfere with the rational deliberation.
Exert a destructive influence on the decision-making process.
Rational decision-making without emotion is not possible.

What is the role of reason when sentencing a death penalty?

Whether to execute or not a criminal, should be based on reason
It is objective and ensures the criminal is being convicted for the right reasons (not for a personal vendetta, etc)
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