Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Capital Punishment – Tyler & Leon

“To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, not justice.”

-Desmond Tutu


Capital punishment or the death penalty you may call it is wrongful idea and should never be allowed. Human lives are the most valuable thing and even some people believe that the most murderers should not be deprived of their lives. The most common argument about capital punishment is that innocent people will get killed because of flaws and mistakes in the justice system. The witnesses, judge, prosecutors, and the jurors can all make mistakes. “As long as human justice remains fallible, the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated” said Amnesty International. In 1973, over 140 people had been released from death rows in 26 states because of innocence.  Hugo Bedau, a philosopher, who’s most ambitious work was “The Death Penalty in America” and took up the issue in “The Case Against the Death Penalty” which was a pamphlet distributed widely by the American Civil Liberties Union. He was the first to make general empirical argument against the capital punishment as said by Michael Radelet. The cost of execution is much greater than the cost to keep them in prison and the taxpayers are paying for that. There are other ways than just the death penalty like life or many years in prison with no early parole. Prison is already suffering enough for example inmates gang-rape, beat to death, and/or stab other inmates. Would you rather have a criminal suffer to death or just have they be killed?

Capital punishment is one of the most efficient ways to prevent people from potential criminals. Showing that there are such extreme measures of justice will discourage many people from wanting to commit a crime. Not only does capital punishment display a form of justice, it also helps the families that were affected by the criminal who is sentenced to death. If one were to look at capital punishment from a utilitarian point of view, they would agree that enforcing capital punishment is essential to improving society. By showing an example of an extreme view of justice, society will gain as a result of capital punishment. Kant, a modern philosopher, would take a different stance from the utilitarians though. Immanuel Kant believed that punishment for crimes are important to society, for similar reasons as listed above;however, people should have their humanity taken away for any crime, as it would dehumanize society itself. So although both sides argue about whether or not capital punishment is moral or not, they both try to deliver the same morals: punishment is essential for the better of society. At what point does capital punishment seem like a viable choice? And at what point does Capital Punishment seem like a stretch? Arguments like these have no true answer, but it can be said that there is lots to learn from the idea of capital punishment.


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