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  1. Death Penalty Soazig Le Bihan - University of Montana

  2. Outline 1. Dead Man Walking 2. The morality of punishment 3. Death Penalty and Deterrence 4. Death Penalty and Human Dignity

  3. Outline 1. Dead Man Walking 2. The morality of punishment 3. Death Penalty and Deterrence 4. Death Penalty and Human Dignity

  4. Dead Man Walking View of human beings Views on Death Penalty

  5. Outline 1. Dead Man Walking 2. The morality of punishment 3. Death Penalty and Deterrence 4. Death Penalty and Human Dignity

  6. The Morality of Punishment Four ways of justifying punishment: Retribution Deterrence Rehabilitation Reconciliation DUTY THEORIES UTILITARIANISM

  7. The Morality of Punishment: Utilitarianism Punishment and making the world a better place for everybody concerned: (U) Punishing a criminal is right because it has beneficial consequences, in particular, that fewer crimes will be perpetrated. Conditions for a just – i.e. efficient – punishment: (U1) Applied consistently (U2) Applied quickly Example: Cheating

  8. The Morality of Punishment: Duty Theory Retribution and Respect: (DT) Punishing a criminal is right because it is the only way in which we can respect her as a rational, autonomous agent Two Principles for a just punishment: (DT1) Punish only the guilty (DT2) Punish in proportion to the offense: lex talionis Ex: stealing

  9. The Morality of Punishment: Conclusion  Application: to what extent is death penalty justified?

  10. Outline 1. Dead Man Walking 2. The morality of punishment 3. Death Penalty and Deterrence 4. Death Penalty and Human Dignity

  11. Death Penalty and Deterrence The Facts Facts: At best not conclusive: - Social Studies: Some argue that it saves lives / Some argue that the number of capital crimes increases after an execution - Checking for ourselves Compare Canada / France and US Compare North and South Dakota  Whether or not death penalty serves as a good deterrent is far from clear

  12. Death Penalty and Deterrence The Arguments Bedau: A punishment is just, i.e. effective as deterrent, only if: (U1) Applied consistently (U2) Applied quickly (U3) The crimes are deliberated  What about cases involving death penalty?

  13. Death Penalty and Deterrence More Facts (U1) violated: Unfair Distribution Race / Gender / Wealth (U2) violated: Extremely long procedures And for good reasons! (U3) violated: Most murders are not deliberated Passion / Accident  Death Penalty cannot be a good deterrent Death Penalty is not right from a utilitarian point of view

  14. Death Penalty and Deterrence The Arguments Van den Haag’s answer on unfair distribution: That a punishment is unfairly distributed does not make the punishment unjust: It is always just to punish the guilty – Guilt is personal! Van den Haag’s general answer on deterrence: Admits that there is no conclusive evidence But claims that this is not the point!  Can Death Penalty be justified from a Kantian point of view?

  15. Outline 1. Dead Man Walking 2. The morality of punishment 3. Death Penalty and Deterrence 4. Death Penalty and Human Dignity

  16. Death Penalty and Human Dignity The Argument Van den Haag: “Execution, when deserved, is required for the sake of the convict’s dignity” Reminder: Two Principles for a just punishment: (DT1) Punish only the guilty (DT2) Punish in proportion to the offense: lex talionis  How does Death Penalty do regarding such principles?

  17. Death Penalty and Human Dignity The Facts about Wrongful Convictions Facts: 245 post-conviction DNA exonerations since 1989

  18. Death Penalty and Human Dignity The Arguments on Wrongful Convictions Bedau: Because errors are inevitable, we should not apply any irreversible punishment Van den Haag’s answer: SO BE IT! The moral benefits will outweigh the cost of innocents’ being killed  Van den Haag: some criminals deserve death penalty.

  19. Death Penalty and Human Dignity The Significance of the LexTalionis Understanding the lex talionis: Two interpretations: (I1) A scale of punishments, corresponding to a scale of offences (I2) Exact pay back? (I2) cannot be true: Raping the rapist? Killing all the family members of the one who murdered the family of someone? Killing an entire community…?  The Lex Talionis is about a SCALE, not about exact payback.

  20. Death Penalty and Human Dignity The Significance of the LexTalionis What should be the upper limit of the scale? Painful Death? Non-painful Death? Life sentence? 30 years? 20 years?  Duty Theory does not tell us!  Duty Theory does not justify death penalty

  21. Death Penalty and Human Dignity The Moral Integrity of the Executioners Appeal to virtue ethics: What kind of person do we want to be? What kind of punishment makes us lose our moral integrity?  There is no doubt that awful people deserve awful treatment. But what kind of punishment do we want to be responsible for?

  22. Outline CONCLUSION !

  23. Conclusion: Is Death Penalty morally right? 1. From the point of view of Utilitarianism: There is no convincing evidence or argument that applying death penalty has beneficial consequences: - Unfair distribution - Slow procedures - No premeditation most of the time

  24. Conclusion: Is Death Penalty morally right? 2. From the point of view of Duty Theory Duty Theory does not support death penalty either: - Problem of Wrongful Convictions - Duty Theory justifies that a proportionate punishment be applied, but does not tell us about what the highest level punishment should be Your call!