Is Death Penalty Morally Acceptable? Essay Example

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Sewanee University of the South
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The death punishment has experienced enormous resistance in the contemporary world. Although there has been little progress made concerning the discourse about the death punishment, it is unless people understand that the only single component in this debate concerns the idea of penalty alone. Therefore, in efforts to assess the reasons for the existence of death penalty, this essay pursues an argumentative content about the moral acceptability of death punishment.

The penalty has extensively been applied to discourage aspiring lawbreakers from criminal activities. Therefore, in view that the society demonstrates the keen interest in averting murder, the perception stands out as a robust retribution that is accessible to dissuade crime, and hence, the penalty by death (Finkelstein 14). Although the right to life is obviously most significant, it does not mean, however, that it is outright and inviolable by any situation. Apparently, it is essential to dispute that retributivism disappoints to justify the application of death as disciplining. Furthermore, research in light of deterrence shows inconclusiveness of death penalty although it has a rare implementation rate (Finkelstein 16).

About morality, it is essential to consider the results of particular actions from making decisions. For instance, the concept of Deontology positions the stress of morals on the plan of individual operations as opposed to the real consequences. Accordingly, the Deontological theory refers to the inquiry of the essence of duty and commitment, such that the ethics of an exercise is based upon a favorable plan that is described in its compliance to a set of regulations (Potter 268). Consequently, such a statute becomes a maxim and is abound as a universal legislation that ensures morally correct judgment. Also, the core subject of the deontological theory that was established by Immanuel Kant was the categorical imperative, which encompasses three articulations. These include: the maxim should be a law of behavior, to handle others as ends and not as just means and finally to exist in the sphere of terms whereby an individual perceives themselves as a lawmaker and origin of the moral rule (Potter 269).

Essentially, Kant perceives in the concept of retributive of penalty that is also casual to the proposition of an eye for an eye. According to Kant, a sentence should be a reaction to guilt, and typically, punishment is inevitable for criminality so that justice and fairness as the general premise of law can survive. Impartiality in the boundaries of crime and penalty is supposed to impose an equal degree of pain on the lawbreaker, just as the culprit had inflicted on the victim (Steiker 752). Notwithstanding the harsh tone in this conception, it is integral to recall the link that penalty has to the scheme of maxims and general laws. For example, if a villain commits theft, the property is rendered insecure because such actions are founded on the intention that in the event of generalization, it contributes to insecurity to all people including the criminals personal property (Pojman 2-3).

Therefore, the association to retributive approach is underpinned on the conviction that theft from a different individual can be equated to theft to oneself. The interpretation of deontology acknowledges that the penalty of death is ethically acceptable. The retributive abstraction does not qualify as a version of revenge, whereby Kant indicates that directing the death punishment with additional forms of disciplining like torture would merely be considered immoral (Steiker 755). Considerably, the theory of Deontology bestows unparalleled proof for the ethics of capital penalty. It is due to the concept of retribution that still appreciates the humanity of a lawbreaker. Furthermore, by disciplining the culprit depicts as an action against the wishes of the criminal in that instance however, the universal point shows that punishment is compliance with the freedom of choices that the offender made.

Apparently, as understood about the justification of death punishment as imposed for particular crimes, there are descriptions about reasons as to why various offenses require the disciplining by death. However, due to the moral considerations, this perception can be presented as factually right (or, somewhat wrong) because the debate on ethics is not based on actualities but individual assessment of these facts. Therefore, in pursuit of an investigation, one is prompted to perceive that, for example, a willful rebellion (the truth) is indeed an aggravated and devastating crime (evaluation) and thus, warrants nothing else other than death punishment. Whereby, it is factual for a death penalty that is evaluated as a commensurate due to the magnitude of the offense (van den Haag, 358).

In correspondence, the abolitionists view that deterrence warrants the killing of particular criminals bear the weight of proving that penalty of death is a deterrent. On the contrary death penalty fails to be a deterrent because a majority of offenders that commit murder fail to expect to be captured or even fail to efficiently measure the disparities between a probable execution and life imprisonment for their actions (Paternoster et al., 5). Conclusively, the current scheme of capital penalty reduces the ultimate punishment to mainly defined offenses and surprisingly, allow the death penalty only if the jury determines that the aggravating situations in the subject matter outweigh all alleviating positions.


Works Cited

Finkelstein, Claire. Death and retribution, Criminal Justice Ethics, 21(2), 2002, pp. 12-21

Paternoster, Raymond, Brame Robert, & Bacon Sarah. The death penalty: America's experience with capital punishment. Oxford University Press, USA, 200, pp. 1-13

Pojman, Louis, P. A defense of the death penalty, 2004, pp. 1-8

Potter, Nelson, T. Kant and capital punishment today. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 36(2), 2002, pp. 267-282

Steiker, Carol, S. No, capital punishment is not morally required: Deterrence, Deontology, and the death penalty. Stanford Law Review, 2005, pp. 751-789

Primoratz, Igor. Justifying legal punishment. Prometheus Books, 1989, pp. 293-298

Van den Haag, Ernest and Conrad, John. The death penalty: A debate. Plenum Press, 1983, pp. 354-358


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