Caveats on Readings and PowerPoint Presentations. The readings in Matters of Life and Death do not straightforwardly argue for one position or another because they are survey articles.
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2006 Makoto Suzuki
Some of the materials are adapted from Prof. Donald Hubin’s handouts and presentations. The copy rights of them belongs to him.
“Do the considerations that justify punishment in general support death penalty?”
“Do the considerations that disqualify ways of punishment apply to death penalty?”
“Criminals should be punished because they have forfeited their rights” (Bedau, 162); or
“Criminals should be punished because the society has a right to punish the guilty” (Bedau, 170)
A. Because the utilitarian answers the question of severity as she does, she may allow for more or less punishment than is deserved—no punishment even for severe crimes if it does not have the best effects; severe punishment for trivial crimes if we could get a lot of benefit from it.
B. Because the utilitarian answers the question of title as she does, she may justify punishing an innocent person as easily as a guilty person. If the effect on crime prevention is equal, actual guilt or innocence is irrelevant.
“… a utilitarian theory of punishment … must involve justifying punishment in terms of its social results—e.g., deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. And thus even a guilty man is, on this theory, being punished because of the instrumental value the action of punishment will have in the future. He is being used as a means to some future good — e.g., the deterrence of others. Thus those of a Kantian persuasion, who see the importance of worrying about the treatment of persons as mere means, must, it would seem, object just as strenuously to the punishment of the guilty on utilitarian grounds as to the punishment of the innocent.” (Jeffrie, G. Murphy, “Marxism and Retribution”)
Title: One should punish only those who are guilty, i.e., who deserve punishement.
Severity: One should punish the guilty to the extent they deserve.
1. pure retributivism gives no good reason why the state, rather than other individuals or organs, should punish the guilty.
2. related to the above, pure retributivism excludes the state’s apparently legitimate interest in preventing criminal actions through administrating the system of punishment, e.g., jail system.
1.pure retributivism excludes several considerations that juries and prosecutors appeal to: e.g., the possibility of a second offense and reform, effects on crime prevention, security or how people will regard the allegedly criminal actions, the suspect and the court, and so on.
2.pure retributivism invalidates many legal practices, e.g., commutation based on rehabilitation, clemency and plea bargaining (in which a person charged with a crime pleads guilty and cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a less severe sentence than he might have received if his case went to trial and he was found guilty).
All things considered, should the state give capital punishment on some occasion?
If so, how?
Onora O’Neill, “Ending World Hunger”, 235-58 & #1-#8 of Questions for Discussion on p.277