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Capital Punishment

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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gcc
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Joined: March 23rd, 2010, 1:00 am

Capital Punishment

#1 Post by gcc » March 23rd, 2010, 1:08 am

Im currently writting a case study on ethics and functionality on capital punishment and in particular the Electric Chair...

1) I mean even today we see examples like the design of guantanamo bay .. along with Sadams Hanging .. so capital punishment is not completely overuled... I wanted to get people's views on whether they think ideas such as the Electric chair should ever have been allowed to be engineered ?...

2) What good do you if any comes from capital punishment and Engineering designs like the electric chair .. for examples if someones commits murder surely you should have your life taken from you ? ...

Views on capital punishment in general .. please can you explain why for your particular reason just a few lines .... Whether it be religious, personal, or frown upon torture altoghether ....

Your opinions would be highly appreciated and will allow me to write a better case study based on a number of diffrent opinions ..

Many Thanks

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jaywhat
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Re: Capital Punishment

#2 Post by jaywhat » March 23rd, 2010, 6:32 am

All capital punishment is wrong for whatever reason.
It brings the society that uses it down to the level of a murderer - and it is not a deterrent.

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Paolo
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Re: Capital Punishment

#3 Post by Paolo » March 23rd, 2010, 8:16 am

I'm not convinced that capital punishment is "wrong" - but it certainly isn't welcome in a liberal society, where the rights of the individual are deemed important. Capital punishment can only be justified where society is seen as being of greater importance than the individuals that comprise it, so individuals that contravene social rules to their greatest extent (i.e. deliberately removing contributing members of the society) are justified in being removed from that society themselves. Of course, you are then dependent on the justice system to ensure that the correct individual has been identified - which is where the capital punishment concept really falls down, because the justice system makes mistakes.

My understanding is that the electric chair was meant to be a quick, clean way of killing a human - but it doesn't work as well as it was intended to. An overdose of general anaesthetic would probably be better.

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jaywhat
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Re: Capital Punishment

#4 Post by jaywhat » March 23rd, 2010, 9:41 am

also against -

innocent person dies - then what?

dehumanises all those concerned with the 'punishment'

society is only an amalgam of individual humans. IMO 'society' comes second

philbo
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Re: Capital Punishment

#5 Post by philbo » March 23rd, 2010, 12:27 pm

Pretty much what everyone else has said.. with one addendum: I'd like it to be possible for a person sentenced to life imprisonment to be able to choose the death penalty for themselves. Usual caveats re mental health, to be sure that someone is making a reasoned decision to end their own life rather than spend it in prison.

Marian
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Re: Capital Punishment

#6 Post by Marian » March 23rd, 2010, 12:49 pm

gcc wrote: 1) I wanted to get people's views on whether they think ideas such as the Electric chair should ever have been allowed to be engineered?
The only advantage I can see for having built the electric chair was that it was a 'step up' from the alternative ie. hangings, guillotine. None of these options are really preferable although for speed and accuracy, the chair was probably more effective than the other two.
gcc wrote:2) What good do you if any comes from capital punishment and Engineering designs like the electric chair .. for examples if someones commits murder surely you should have your life taken from you ?
I don't know if anything 'good' can come from capital punishment other than to save a few tax-payer dollars over the long term since the offender isn't locked up in a penitentiary where he's housed and fed for the length of his/her term.
Capital punishment is not a deterrent and reflects badly on a society that purports to be 'civilized'.
Not everyone who commits murder should have their life taken from them as a given across the board although there are a few criminal types who I have a hard time with not killing. But this becomes a circular argument. The state killing a murderer doesn't make it somehow ok to kill.
gcc wrote:Views on capital punishment in general .. please can you explain why for your particular reason just a few lines .... Whether it be religious, personal, or frown upon torture altoghether ....
You need to distinquish between torture and capital punishment as they are not the same thing. Not that I like either of these options as a means to rehabilititate or to act as a deterrent or to gain useful information from if we look at torture.
But they are great ways to get revenge if that's what sails your boat!
Transformative fire...

tubataxidriver
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Re: Capital Punishment

#7 Post by tubataxidriver » March 23rd, 2010, 1:09 pm

Like most humanists I am against the idea of capital punishment, primarily from the "false positive" point of view. People who are in fact innocent of a crime, though wrongly convicted, should not be executed. If there is uncertainty, don't execute. The deterrence factor would not apply to most murders.

As for a quick and less painful method, instant disintegration in a large explosion would probably be better than most active killing techniques. But someone would have to sweep up. I agree with Paolo that anaesthesis would be the most pleasant way to go, given a choice.

Nick
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Re: Capital Punishment

#8 Post by Nick » March 23rd, 2010, 1:54 pm

I am against capital punishment. It does not deter, there are occasions where the executed are innocent, it serves no moral purpose, and because of continuing appeals over many years, it does not save money. Only because the state does not take the life of a murderer does it have the moral superiority over the murderer.

gcc
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Re: Capital Punishment

#9 Post by gcc » March 23rd, 2010, 4:11 pm

Thank you all for your valuable insight and variety of diffrent views and opinions, it will certainly aid me in my case study ..

My other question which hasnt had as many views or opinions is :

Given that the electric chair was invented for a quicker and alternate way of capital punishment ... We still today see examples like guantanamo being built for the sole purpose of curruption , tax payers money and capital punishment and torture as it was clearly evident ..

Honda and toyota recalled thousands of cars recently due to faulty brakes and accelerator pedals sticking, luckily in this case no one was killed ... But When does it become someones moral obligation to see that there design or invention may kill and harm thousands of people ? Shoudnt common sence say to scrap the idea ? Just like thomas edison should have when he discovered AC current will kill whilst DC current will only torture but not kill ..

Im finding it hard to write this case study because my views on capital punishment are very biased in the sence that in my view its wrong altoghether so im finding it hard to justify it on a positive side .. Any further feedback will be much appreciated, everyones been a great help so far ...

Many thanks

Marian
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Re: Capital Punishment

#10 Post by Marian » March 23rd, 2010, 4:41 pm

gcc, not able to help more at present but if you do a google search with the criteria: positive side of capital punishment, you find some stuff there. Good to read through. I'm sure you'll find what you are looking for. Excellent questions, btw.
Transformative fire...

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Paolo
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Re: Capital Punishment

#11 Post by Paolo » March 23rd, 2010, 6:41 pm

Marian wrote: The only advantage I can see for having built the electric chair was that it was a 'step up' from the alternative ie. hangings, guillotine. None of these options are really preferable although for speed and accuracy, the chair was probably more effective than the other two.
I'm not sure that's true - the guillotine was a wonderfully effective method of euthanasia - just a bit messier than the electric chair. With effective drainage and powerhosing it would probably be a very efficient and cost effective method today. Much cheaper than the chair!

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Val
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Re: Capital Punishment

#12 Post by Val » March 23rd, 2010, 7:45 pm

Christians must be glad about cruxifiction as a method of dealing death penalty. Imagine trying to wear a model electric chair or guillotine round your neck.

philbo
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Re: Capital Punishment

#13 Post by philbo » March 24th, 2010, 11:27 am

Val wrote:Imagine trying to wear a model electric chair or guillotine round your neck.
True.. and if it were a guillotine, you'd have to make sure the necklace chain wasn't too long...

ASHEd
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Re: Capital Punishment

#14 Post by ASHEd » June 23rd, 2010, 5:11 pm

Completely against Capital Punishment.
I would definitely agree with your point of what makes up society, jaywhat, and then extend it. Because society, including politicians, which also would include government are all human individuals. All of us should be under the same common law that murder of other people is wrong. Therefore if the government are considered just as the human individuals they are, how can it be any more right for them to murder another individual through capital punishment?

I'm sure a strong voice that wants the capital punishment will argue with the overcrowding of prisons.
Uhh. We are human animals, if you want to go down that road of killing criminals so there's more space, then forget the 'human' in human animal to describe yourself. We don't have to do things like that because our cortex has more potential to work out other solutions. If the prisons are crowded, we have far too many people in society on a global scale and the population is increasing far too fast for us to look after them all and teach them right or observe and give them proper treatment. (this is not directed at anyone on here, the 'you' is passive)

Wilson
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I don't find capital punishment morally wrong.

#15 Post by Wilson » November 12th, 2010, 11:37 pm

I'm an American and grew up reading about capital punishment as part of the criminal justice system. In the US today, very few people are put to death by the state. The appeal process takes forever, and people living on death row even have it better in some ways than the general prison population - more visitors, more amenities, etc. I'd just as soon they abolish capital punishment in favor of life without the possibility of parole. But I have no moral objection to the death penalty, and I'll try to explain why.

If the fear of a death penalty deters a murder, it's very rare. So that's not a justification for it. We're left, then, with vengeance as the reason for capital punishment. And I'm okay with vengeance. I think it's a perfectly good emotion. We humans have vengeance in our DNA, and shouldn't be ashamed of it. If somebody does me dirt, I'd like for him to be punished for it. I wouldn't be human if I didn't. If somebody deliberately killed my wife or child without provocation, I want him punished, and I want him punished severely. I don't see him just as a flawed human being, I see him as evil. Society should also want him punished, not just so he can't hurt anyone else, but because it feels good to punish the offender or to know that he's punished. There would be terrible emotional pain in the family of his victim if he weren't caught and punished. What kind of punishment? Life in prison without parole would satisfy me, but execution would be okay as well. My question to you is, why do you consider capital punishment wrong, whereas prison time is okay?

Marian
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Re: I don't find capital punishment morally wrong.

#16 Post by Marian » November 13th, 2010, 3:02 am

Wilson wrote: In the US today, very few people are put to death by the state. The appeal process takes forever, and people living on death row even have it better in some ways than the general prison population - more visitors, more amenities, etc.
I think maybe your definition of a 'few people' is different from mine. What are you comparing 'very few' to? Iran? Saudia Arabia? In 2009, 37 people were executed in the US with a whopping 18 in Texas. Stats are from the Bureau of Justice (http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=18). Where did you get your information from regarding death row inmates 'having it better'. Inmates who are convicted of capital crimes are likely to spend 13 years or more locked in their cell for 23 hours a day before the 'call' comes in for the execution. There is no contact with anyone else. Complete isolation. Have you any idea what that does to a person psychologically? A cell is 6 x 9 (in Florida) Physical exercise is forbidden. Texas seems to have the most restrictions for inmates. No television. Letters are permitted but of little value to someone who can't read or write. This is in no way better than being general population as far as I can tell.

Wilson wrote: If somebody does me dirt, I'd like for him to be punished for it. I wouldn't be human if I didn't. If somebody deliberately killed my wife or child without provocation, I want him punished, and I want him punished severely. I don't see him just as a flawed human being, I see him as evil. Society should also want him punished, not just so he can't hurt anyone else, but because it feels good to punish the offender or to know that he's punished. There would be terrible emotional pain in the family of his victim if he weren't caught and punished. My question to you is, why do you consider capital punishment wrong, whereas prison time is okay?
We need to define 'does me dirt'. If someone cuts me off on the highway, do I expect him/her to be punished for it? Not if I want to keep my blood pressure down. Why? Because it isn't likely that they will be caught, let alone punished. Besides, it's about being rude. I believe there should be consequences for choices but I don't believe that two wrongs make a right. Meaning if killing is wrong, then it's wrong whether the state does it or an individual does it. It's like smacking your kid to show him that smacking is wrong; you're giving the wrong message.

I can sure appreciate that I would feel like wanting vengeance particularly if someone hurts my family or friends but wanting something and doing it are two vastly different things. If we act merely out of anger/hurt and execute someone, then we are likely no better than the person who did the original hurting. Just because something feels good, doesn't mean we ought to do it automatically.
Transformative fire...

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jaywhat
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Re: Capital Punishment

#17 Post by jaywhat » November 13th, 2010, 5:46 am

Wilson's question - why do you consider capital punishment wrong, whereas prison time is okay?

Several reasons, Wilson.
1) If you make a mistake you kill the wrong person. If they are in jail they can be released and compensated.

2) If killing is wrong it is always wrong; it does not matter what the reason is. if society kills by law then society is diminished.

If humans are to rise above other living creatures they must do it through education and development of a good and just society and this takes time; a long time during which wrong which will done but slowly we will get there.

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animist
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Re: Capital Punishment

#18 Post by animist » November 13th, 2010, 10:13 am

Paolo wrote:
Marian wrote: The only advantage I can see for having built the electric chair was that it was a 'step up' from the alternative ie. hangings, guillotine. None of these options are really preferable although for speed and accuracy, the chair was probably more effective than the other two.
I'm not sure that's true - the guillotine was a wonderfully effective method of euthanasia - just a bit messier than the electric chair. With effective drainage and powerhosing it would probably be a very efficient and cost effective method today. Much cheaper than the chair!
this is tangential (maybe like the trajectory of the head after guillotining, I don't know) but my very favourite comic film scene is in the "Carry On" film about the French Revolution: Jim Dale plays an aristo about to be guillotined, and is handed a written note - he says "Put it in the basket, I'll read it later"

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animist
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Re: Capital Punishment

#19 Post by animist » November 13th, 2010, 10:13 am

hi GCC - you might like to look at the Charlie's Space site - he is very keen on the Death Penalty. There is some evidence of a link between the US federal abolition of the DP in the 1970s and a homicide increase; I don't think there is evidence of a link between the UK abolition in the 1960s and the murder rate. Within the US, there is a correlation between high numbers of executions in states like Texas and the homicide rate - which would indicate a perversely POSITIVE effect of the DP on homicide (if anyone really believes that the DP is an important deterrent)

Wilson
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Re: Capital Punishment

#20 Post by Wilson » November 13th, 2010, 6:37 pm

Marian and Jaywhat:

I believe that we all want vengeance when someone hurts us. It's normal. That doesn't mean that we have to act on that desire in every case, and we certainly don't want to overreact. But a society that doesn't punish its wrongdoers is likely to be overrun by the bad guys. It's not good for a society to be TOO forgiving. When we put somebody in jail, it's for the purposes of 1) punishment, 2) keeping the criminal out of society so he can't transgress against others while incarcerated, and 3) rehabilitation. Rehabilitation doesn't work very well, by the way. So the argument comes down to what kind of punishment is reasonable.

I don't buy that all killing is wrong. If somebody is threatening your life or that of your family, it isn't wrong to kill him in self defense. In WWII, killing soldiers in the German Army was justified, even though it was horrible to do so, since the alternative was letting Hitler take over the world. And I certainly don't buy that executing a criminal makes you no better than that criminal, since in most cases he killed an innocent person who did nothing to deserve his or her fate, and the murderer richly earned his trip to the death chamber.

I'm sure that there have been a very few people innocent of the crime who were executed. There have also been people who lived the rest of their lives in prison after conviction for crimes they weren't guilty of. I would be perfectly happy if the death penalty were abolished, and life in prison without parole was substituted. All I'm saying is that there's nothing inherently immoral about the death penalty, properly applied.

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