Is capital punishment justified? This is something that has been effectively an area of debate not only legally, but morally, ethically, economically, and philosophically for decades. Capital punishment is defined as The lawful infliction of death as a punishment for committing capital crimes such as rape and third degree murder; More commonly referred to as “the death penalty”. The area of contention arises when discussing whether or not it is ethical to inflict death upon a human being regardless of the severity of his or her actions.
I am going to explore this question in detail and provide three arguments for and against the use of capital punishment. I will also include various counter arguments to balance out the individual arguments. I will also make references to the TOK diagram at certain points by connecting reason and language as ways of knowing and the areas of knowledge will be ethics and psychology which lies in the human sciences.
However, before I begin: for all intents and purposes I would like to state that all examples and hypothetical situations provided to support my arguments will be situated in the United States as this is where capital punishment is of the utmost importance considering the size of the country and that 38 states currently have it as a punishment. Furthermore, I would like Beginning with arguments in favour of capital punishment: 1 – Capital punishment is the best deterrent against capital crimes.
If someone fears that they will be killed if they murder someone, it will most likely prevent them from doing so or at least make it much less attractive and hopefully discourage them from committing the murder. This is because all organisms have one thing in common which is the unmatched willingness, determination, and perseverance to preserve their own life. Also known as the survival instinct. Therefore, if someone knows they will be killed if they commit a capital crime, they will not commit the crime due to the fear of losing their own life.
Furthermore, if we look at most criminals nowadays, there is something that most of them have in common. They commit crimes on a type of “cost-benefit” basis. That is to say, that if they know the punishment for mugging someone to steal their wallet is low, then they will commit this crime. Then there’s the other side of the coin which shows that this same criminal might want to rob a bank but does not do so because the potential cost (life in prison) is not worth the risk.
Therefore, it is clear that if a potential murderer sees capital punishment as a consequence of killing someone, the “cost-benefit” theory will deter them from doing so due to the fear of dying themselves. Also, we can see here how capital punishment can be justified. This is where we can link reason as a way of knowing in psychology in the human sciences. 2. Now my second argument. This argument takes a more moral approach to the issue. If somebody murders another person, then they are forfeiting their own right to live.
If they have the will power and mental capacity to remove another human being from this earth then they should be killed themselves. Therefore, we can see how capital punishment can be justified. However, I would like to argue that this specific argument only applies to murder as one of the capital crimes. Now to quickly provide a counter argument: According to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, every human on the planet has the right to life and therefore we cannot infringe upon this right regardless of whether they have infringed upon the same right of someone else.
If society operated in such a way we could say this: That if someone goes out and shoots another man in the leg, then the man who got shot could shoot the other man to achieve justice. As we can see, this type of stone age “an eye for an eye” would not function in our society today. 3. Now to my third argument in favor of capital punishment: A punishment needs to be equal to the gravity of the crime. This means that if someone kills someone they should be killed as a just punishment.
If society does not punish criminals by inflicting a punishment of the same gravity as the original crime on them, then we run the risk that society might take justice into its own hands and try to murder the criminal themselves to seek retribution and justice. As we all know, courts often do not rule in favour of all parties involved in a legal matter and therefore if we do not have capital punishment for capital crimes, then we run the isk of massive chaos and disorder which could potentially lead to even worse off situations. Therefore, we see here how capital punishment can be justified. However, once again we can argue against this by claiming that we cannot resort to “an eye for an eye” type of legal system. .. ::Moving onto my argument against the use of capital punishment::.. 1. If we allow murderers to receive capital punishment then it essentially trying to make a right out of two wrongs.
More vividly, we cannot try to achieve justice by killing someone. What would be more effective would be to imprison the murderer for a lifetime and make him regret his actions and have to live knowing what he did and suffering the boredom and loneliness of solitary confinement. Here it is clear how we can use reason to prove that capital punishment is not justified. 2. Moving onto my second argument: The most solid argument against capital punishment is that we run the risk of murdering innocent people.
It is a fact that there have been numerous cases where alleged murderers have been accused, tried, convicted, sentenced to death, died, and then later been proven innocent. This is completely unethical and immoral and therefore we can certainly not justify capital punishment. This argument is even more substantial if we consider the alternative to capital punishment suggested in my previous argument which was simply imprisoning the murderer or alleged murdered so at least if they are later found to be guilty, they can be released. 3.
Now my third argument against capital punishement is the same as one of my counter points to my argument in favour of it. I will repeat it to clarify According to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, every human on the planet has the right to life and therefore we cannot infringe upon this right regardless of whether they have infringed upon the same right of someone else. If society operated in such a way we could say this: That if someone goes out and shoots another man in the leg, then the man who got shot could shoot the other man to achieve justice.
As we can see, this type of stone age “an eye for an eye” would not function in our society today. To summarize all points made here we can say that the arguments in favour of capital punishment were not one sided. Although they did focus on the punishment itself and attempting to achieve justice with capital punishment, my first argument (the deterrent argument) supported capital punishment as a deterrent so as to discourage criminals from murdering before they had even done it. Therefore, argument in favour did not only seek justice, but sought to protect the potential victims as well.
On the other hand, we have the arguments against capital punishment which also supported the protection of victims however victims of wrongful accusation and conviction. Here we see that there is a similarity between the arguments which is that both sides support the safety and human rights of all humans. Therefore, according to all of these arguments we can conclude that we cannot use capital punishment as a punishment for crimes because it can undermine the basic human rights of others both innocent and guilty.