Capital Punishment Ethics Essay
Capital punishment comprises of execution of a criminal. It is justifiable under the law to counter social ills that affect human life through depriving the criminal the right to life. Moral philosophy under different scholars gives differing views on this form of punishment. The general views either indicate the moral impermissible nature of the punishment as it deprives human life. The second view justifies the existence of it. Your essay has to outline some of the philosophical views on capital punishment.
Capital punishment (CP), a retributive form of justice seeks to provide punishment in the same measure as the wrong done by the offender. Stuart Mill, a proponent of the consequentialism ethics states that utility is the standard measure for judgment. The utility also called ’Greatest Happiness Principle’ brings happiness through minimizing any pain. Therefore, consequentialism punishment looks at the net benefits in the future as the reform of the offender, deterrence of similar offenses and safeguarding society. The ultimate goal of CP should be in promoting social utility. In essence, it does the minutest harm with an aggregate of doing the most good to all concerned. CP is, therefore, permissible as a just mechanism based on the social achievement of the desired happiness. Utilitarian looks at the means to an end and not the end alone. Hence, a death penalty may not necessarily be morally permissible based on retribution as deterrence.
They further argue that the level of effectiveness of the deterrence arising from a death sentence is not justifiable. Therefore, CP may not be a legitimate mechanism of punishment as the social utility inherent is not warrantable. Additionally, CP only adds up to inhumanity to humanity. In fact, it never erases murder crimes making death penalty an unfair way of administering justice.
The second philosophical view borrows from the deontological theories of ethics. These theories stipulate that an act is either wrong or right relative to judicial guidelines. For example, the virtuous ethics which is an act-based theoretical framework promotes the rule of law going contrary to the common good of the people. Underlying its justification for CP is the disposition of good morals to individuals which positively impact on society. Dispositions are cultivated over time which form habits to do right hence, exposition of desirable character. In a way, it deters any form of delinquent behavior in communities.
The proponents of the deontological theories such as Aristotle stipulate that retributivism in itself constitute morality. A punishment is therefore meant to serve the moral good in itself. Essentially, a punishment exists not to justify a crime but as a moral commitment as deserved for the wrongdoing. Under Kant’s work on ‘Groundwork of The Metaphysics of Morals (1785),’ he rejects the consequential idea of the achievement of social utility. Kant asserts that crime merits punishment and guilt are necessary and sufficient for judicial punishment.
Moral ethics advocates for the good of all people. A death penalty deprives an individual the will to live. Despite the crime done, the punishment should be outlaid with the same weight which does not necessarily mean death. Life imprisonment is one form that can substitute CP yet serve the same purpose. Conquering with the utilitarianism, the punishment should be administered to correct and maintain social utility. CP is unjust when an innocent life gets involved. Life is irreversible and morality calls for just acts that promote human dignity.