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Why capital punishment is immoral.

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Kate87
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Can anyone support state killing of criminals in the face of such miscarriages of justice?

Sure, but with a higher degree of proof than in cases like this one. There are plenty of murderers that we know for a fact deserve the death penalty.

I support executing them.

Edited by Nicky
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Nicky, can I ask whether you personally could administer a lethal injection? People get paid to do disgusting things all the time - for example getting paid to dissect dead people. But in these cases there is a benefit to what they are doing eg medical research. In the case of executing a criminal, there is no benefit that could not be obtained by incarceration.

The only person who would want to do such a job is someone with psychological problems which have been legitimised by the state. It may even attract actual psychopaths into becoming doctors so they can execute people. If you can tell me a legitimate reason why someone would want to become an executioner then I will of course change my assessment.

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The only person who would want to do such a job is someone with psychological problems which have been legitimised by the state. It may even attract actual psychopaths into becoming doctors so they can execute people. If you can tell me a legitimate reason why someone would want to become an executioner then I will of course change my assessment.
That's just rationalization on your part. If the legal system brought only the wrost and clearly guilty people to a death sentence, I can think of worse jobs. You should check out the movie Pierrepoint - The Last Hangman.
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That's just rationalization on your part. If the legal system brought only the wrost and clearly guilty people to a death sentence, I can think of worse jobs. You should check out the movie Pierrepoint - The Last Hangman.

Look at a combat soldier who has to kill people as part of his job. He can see the benefit, the fact that he is fighting for his pro-freedom country against anti-freedom enemies. Look at a doctor who administers lethal injections for people who choose to die - he sees the benefit in fulfilling the wishes of someone who is suffering.

Look at the death row executioner. I guess he mistakenly believes he is deterring others from committing the crime? But that sounds weak. What other motivation could he have? I need a legitimate reason before I can change my mind on this.

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Look at the death row executioner. I guess he mistakenly believes he is deterring others from committing the crime? But that sounds weak. What other motivation could he have? I need a legitimate reason before I can change my mind on this.

The most obvious reason is that the murderer in question will never get the chance to kill again.

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Look at the death row executioner. I guess he mistakenly believes he is deterring others from committing the crime? But that sounds weak. What other motivation could he have? I need a legitimate reason before I can change my mind on this.
So, if Hitler were captured alive, you would rather he be kept alive until he dies a natural death? Why?
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So, if Hitler were captured alive, you would rather he be kept alive until he dies a natural death? Why?

Because killing him achieves nothing for the victims. The best the victims can do is to get over their losses and to ignore Hitler. Isn't locking Hitler up, throwing away the key, and then ignoring him also the best form of punishment?

Why let the rat die?

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Great quote from the movie Unforgiven: It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have.”

That is what a killer does – He takes away everything the other person had, and the whole life they could have had. This also does not count the victims loved ones who lost someone too.

When a person has violated the rights of someone else to the point he has permanently taken away all of their values through the most precious value of all, his life, the killer’s life is forfeit. I agree the burden of proof should be high and I would rather let a guilty man go free than an innocent man be wrongfully killed, but the Jeffry Dahmer’s of the world have no business soaking up tax payer money so they can live off the victims the stalked in life. Who does that reward and who does that punish? He did it, yes we know he did it, and we invest Government with a monopoly on force to protect us from exactly that kind of person.

Mercy rewards the criminal at the expense of the victim. Justice is the concept at work here and Justice demands each person is rewarded or punished for what they have earned.

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I agree the burden of proof should be high and I would rather let a guilty man go free than an innocent man be wrongfully killed, but the Jeffry Dahmer’s of the world have no business soaking up tax payer money so they can live off the victims the stalked in life. Who does that reward and who does that punish?

Yes, good point. That calls to mind this excerpt from Hugo Adam Bedau:

"Few death row prisoners try to commit suicide and fewer succeed. Few death row prisoners insist that all appeals on their behalf be dropped. Few convicted murderers sentenced to life in prison declare years later that they wish they had been sentenced instead to death and executed. Few if any death row prisoners refuse clemency if it is offered to them. No doubt prison life can be made unbearable and hideous; no doubt death row can be managed by the authorities in an inhumane fashion. But none of this is necessary. No doubt not all life-term prisoners find ways to make their imprisonment something more than an inhumane endurance test. So it should hardly come as a surprise that the vast majority of friends of the death penalty as well as its opponents believe that death is worse than imprisonment. This is why its opponents want to abolish it—and why its supporters want to keep it. So we can accept the second proposition without further ado. [...]

"A great deal of crime is committed on a cost-benefit schema, wherein the criminal engages in some form of risk assessment as to his or her chances of getting caught and punished in some manner. If he or she estimates the punishment mild, the crime becomes inversely attractive, and vice versa. The fact that those who are condemned to death do everything in their power to get their sentences postponed or reduced to long-term prison sentences, in the way lifers do not, shows that they fear death more than life in prison..."

Edit: What do you think of the family of the victim taking murder into their own hands? Like in that movie, In the Bedroom, where a man kills his wife's boyfriend, but because there were no direct witnesses, the man would only get 5-15 years for manslaughter. (Note: I don't know if this would really be the sentence in real life, but that's how it was in the movie.) The father of the victim ended up killing the murderer to avenge his son's death. In this case, should the father be killed because he is now a 'murderer'?

Edited by mdegges
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Look at the death row executioner. I guess he mistakenly believes he is deterring others from committing the crime? But that sounds weak. What other motivation could he have? I need a legitimate reason before I can change my mind on this.

His is facilitating the forefeiture of the life of the murderer, if it makes more sense ,legislate that it need not by done by a doctor. I would assume there are pharmacuetical chemicals that could be administered by non medical professionals in humane manner. The question is do you think a murderer should have to forefeit his life.

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Nicky, can I ask whether you personally could administer a lethal injection? People get paid to do disgusting things all the time - for example getting paid to dissect dead people. But in these cases there is a benefit to what they are doing eg medical research. In the case of executing a criminal, there is no benefit that could not be obtained by incarceration.

The only person who would want to do such a job is someone with psychological problems which have been legitimised by the state. It may even attract actual psychopaths into becoming doctors so they can execute people. If you can tell me a legitimate reason why someone would want to become an executioner then I will of course change my assessment.

I could do it, particularly if I was participating in a firing squad instead of a lethal injection (I dislike the idea of lethal injection). There's no such future in any career path I'm pursuing but, for example, if I was in the military in the past and they asked for volunteers to participate in the firing squad of a man tried, convicted, and found guilty of heinous, murderous crimes beyond a shadow of a doubt, I would consider it. My reason is simply that there are some people who do not deserve to live. The motivation of the executioner need not be any different than the jurors who decide the verdict and reccomend the sentence or the judge who hands it down. It's all a matter of justice.

As for the actual act of killing, I'm personally put off by the methods of hanging, gas, electrocution and to a lesser degree, lethal injection, but I don't see the specific act of justified killing as particularly undesirable, certainly not disgusting, as you put it. I'm glad there are other people out there in the prison system who volunteer to carry out justice and presumably are not bothered. I don't see any basis upon which you could accuse these people of having psychological problems.

As for your the link you gave, it does not prove that capital punishment is immoral, just that there needs to be strict codes of law which prevent it from being pursued except in cases of utmost certainty. I don't know the specifics of how those codes would be written, but I don't doubt that they can be written.

Edited by oso
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If someone is a convicted rapist, does that give the state the right to rape him as punishment? If not why not, and how do you square this with the state being given the right to kill a convicted killer?

- In theory I guess they could be given that right, but its quite impractical given that the damage he would receive from a raping would obviously be different from person to person. And it would probably not equate to the damage the victim experienced.

The death penalty is much more conclusive. That being said, I dont think it makes a huge difference one way or the other if you have life imprisonment or the death penalty. Both options sufficiantly sucks - and represent justice.

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Nicky, can I ask whether you personally could administer a lethal injection?

That's irrelevant, which tells me you just ran out of arguments, but yes, I could.

The only person who would want to do such a job is someone with psychological problems

The only person who would make that argument is someone with an astounding ignorance of logic.

And psychological problems. Damn, I almost forgot to call you mentally ill. My "reasoning and arguing" skills must be slipping.

Edited by Nicky
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That's irrelevant, which tells me you just ran out of arguments, but yes, I could.

The only person who would make that argument is someone with an astounding ignorance of logic.

And psychological problems. Damn, I almost forgot to call you mentally ill. My "reasoning and arguing" skills must be slipping.

Sorry I take that back. I guess the rational reason to be a death row executioner is a mistaken belief that you are doing good as I mentioned in this quote:

Look at the death row executioner. I guess he mistakenly believes he is deterring others from committing the crime? But that sounds weak. What other motivation could he have? I need a legitimate reason before I can change my mind on this.

If someone is a convicted rapist, does that give the state the right to rape him as punishment? If not why not, and how do you square this with the state being given the right to kill a convicted killer?

Nicky do you believe that the state can rape rapists?

- In theory I guess they could be given that right, but its quite impractical given that the damage he would receive from a raping would obviously be different from person to person. And it would probably not equate to the damage the victim experienced.

I agree that its impractical but I find it ridiculous that in theory the state could have the right to rape rapists. I think the error which leads to that conclusion is the same which leads to the conclusion of the state's right to kill a murderer.

Edited by Kate87
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There would be no reason for the state to rape a rapist.

If a rapist has been caught and found guilty, the state already has complete power over him.

You could also say "there would be no reason for the state to kill a killer". I think the point of Kate's question is why should enacting justice include subjecting a criminal to the same act they committed.

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If someone is a convicted rapist, does that give the state the right to rape him as punishment? If not why not, and how do you square this with the state being given the right to kill a convicted killer?

Nicky do you believe that the state can rape rapists?

Rape is not an objective punishment. Like Michelle said, it is a form of humiliation, where the rapist exerts his power over the victim. The state should not engage in that.

The state's job is to be an objective, dispassionate arbiter of justice. Justice has nothing to do with humiliating people, or torturing them. Justice is an aspect of reality (a lot like logic, or gravity). Man made justice, if done properly, is simply the molding of human society to the requirements of reality.

For instance, we cannot live in freedom if we insist on violating other people's rights (that's a law of reality, something that is true because of the nature of reality: something that cannot be changed). Incarcerating people who violate other people's rights is simply acknowledging that fact of reality. It's like dumping ballast from a hot air balloon, to prevent the whole thing from crashing.

Similarly, we cannot live in a society if we insist on deliberately murdering other people. That is another law of reality. Killing people who deliberately murder other people is simply the acknowledgement of that fact of reality. What you are doing, by insisting that it's just as good to simply incarcerate these deliberate, evil murderers, is trying to will that fact of reality to change: you're adding just enough evasion of facts (like the fact that convicted murderers DO often kill people in prison, and sometimes even escape; not to mention the other, more serious possibility, of the state apparatus as a whole, including the prison system, disintegrating - as it has happened to many governments, all throughout history) to help you pretend that life is perfectly safe with monsters in our midst, as long as we're all really careful.

One more small step in the same direction, and you're someone who thinks murderers don't even have to be jailed: as long as we're all careful and lock our doors at night, live in gated communities, seal the borders of our countries, etc. it would be just as safe to just exile them, or keep them out of our neighborhoods.

But the fact is, life is impossible if you worship death. The role of man made justice is to make sure life is impossible for those who murder, not for their would be victims. If man made justice fails to do that, that doesn't mean the aspect of reality that is justice will just be nullified. It means the men who fail to enact justice will become the victims of their own failure.

Edited by Nicky
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You could also say "there would be no reason for the state to kill a killer". I think the point of Kate's question is why should enacting justice include subjecting a criminal to the same act they committed.

It shouldn't. Not on principle, not when reality doesn't demand it. Reality demands that murderers be killed. Reality doesn't demand that rapists be raped. Reality demands that rapists be incarcerated.

Raping rapists would solve nothing.

As an aside, this works in both directions: just as, in some contexts, it might not make sense to execute a convicted killer (because the murder wasn't premeditated and "heinous" enough to fit an objectively defined "aggravated murder" conviction), in other contexts it might make sense to hang a horse thief (in the American West, people's lives depended on holding on to their property, and they couldn't afford the cost of incarcerating thieves - in that context, reality demands of organized society to act to defend crucial rights like the ability to hold on to one's horses, using the only means available: executing criminals).

In another context, even something that today is just cheap barbarism, like whipping or bodily mutilation, might make sense to punish some crimes. Obviously, Saudi Arabia is in a position to afford incarceration, so this doesn't apply to them (they're just mindless religious lunatics), but in another time, when those punishments were first created, the practice may have made sense.

So justice is not about either revenge (or some other emotion) or just following tradition ingrained in one's culture. It's about understanding reality, and what a society must do to protect itself from criminals, in the context (reality) it exists in.

Edited by Nicky
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What do you think of the family of the victim taking murder into their own hands? Like in that movie, In the Bedroom, where a man kills his wife's boyfriend, but because there were no direct witnesses, the man would only get 5-15 years for manslaughter. (Note: I don't know if this would really be the sentence in real life, but that's how it was in the movie.) The father of the victim ended up killing the murderer to avenge his son's death. In this case, should the father be killed because he is now a 'murderer'?

Now that is an interesting question. I think it is a matter of context. The whole reason we empower Government to have a monopoly on force is exactly so we don’t have to live in a society where people have to defend or enact justice for themselves. That can breakdown into lawlessness fast plus it reduces people’s ability to thrive when they may accidently be forced into a “blood feud”. Outside of a moral justice system then I would say it is fine for sure and actually likely very necessary. If we lived in Somalia, as an extreme example, I would say the fear of retribution might be the best peace keeper (for what it is worth).

As for this kind of retribution in a proper free society, I’m going to give a very generic answer since now it leaves basic philosophy/ethic arguments into the field of Law. If I’m not mistaken, I do believe the Law provides for cases of retribution by criminally charging people for degrees of murder. For example, if someone raped my wife and I lost it and killed the man, I’d get a lesser charge than first degree murder. I’d be punished but not by the same standard as someone who committed premeditated murder in the first degree. That is where you need specialists to handle the line between justice and vigilantes.

As for the movie, it would really be up to the justice system to prove that the father pre-meditated the murder in the first degree. I haven't seen the film so I don't know if there is any special information that matters, but at first blush I'd be inclined to believe that he would not get Capital Punishment.

Edited by Spiral Architect
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Because killing him achieves nothing for the victims. The best the victims can do is to get over their losses and to ignore Hitler. Isn't locking Hitler up, throwing away the key, and then ignoring him also the best form of punishment?

Why let the rat die?

So, your argument is that prison is relatively worse than death for Hitler? In other words, you oppose the death penalty as being too lenient? Would you go further and say that he ought to be tortured too? For instance, given such low food rations that he is reduced to a skeleton like those people in Auschwitz, and keep him barely alive and isolated. How far are you willing to go with this torture?

truthfully, the idea of torturing someone like Hitler is very appealing, but I'm squeamish about keeping him alive. It's much cleaner to simply kill him. You suggest that his victims should ignore him and get on with their lives. Well, killing him would be much better for closure. It's done; move on.

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