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 Topic #2 - Capital Punishment

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Tiff <3

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PostSubject: Topic #2 - Capital Punishment   Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:34 am

The death penalty. Should the United States have the death penalty for criminals?
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scottfer918



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PostSubject: Re: Topic #2 - Capital Punishment   Sat Mar 12, 2011 10:26 pm

Absolutely yes. It ought to be reserved for the most horrific of crimes, and under circumstances where it can be reasonably shown that a sane, i.e. full conscience individual, intentionally destroyed the life or lives of others.

I don't (necessarily) formulate this opinion from eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, but I think our justice system could do a better job if it employed its punishment off some derivative of that concept.

In Kantian Ethics capital punishment is justified by the universal law. It is unacceptable for anyone to incorporate the maxim that they will kill anyone else, because applied universally there would be mayhem. Kant also says that we should treat people according to their own logic. Therefore, if they have reasoned it okay to take a life, we can reason that it is okay for us (society) to take their life.

Furthermore not only is it acceptable I think it is necessary. Life isn't in my opinion "inalienable," it is our property. We are given our life by our parents, and it is the one thing we should be able to "own" for the rest of our lives...(redundant? lol). IT SHOULD be inalienable, however it is not immortal, that is the very essence of life.

From that reasoning as soon as somebody takes life away they have committed the most heinous crime against mortality. They have acquired someone else's most sacred property, and are therefore deserving to be stripped of their own.

I think this should hold even regardless the potential for rehabilitation. Society needs to show that there are some things, i.e. life that should never be taken away, ever. Paradoxically the only way to most effectively do this is to hold whomever guilty accountable to their own illogic, and take their life.
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Bramenstein

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PostSubject: Re: Topic #2 - Capital Punishment   Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:27 am

I think Id like to comment on Scott's comments before beginning on my own. I feel that you may be misunderstanding Kant and his philosophical statements. He has two categorical imperatives:

The first- "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction."
In other words only do an action that you would want everyone else to do; a pseudo golden rule. This doesn't have an application in punishment however. Since the action my be looked at not as a hypothetical case, but just in general. It would be an immoral act to kill anyone, but it would also be immoral to keep a person locked away or sentenced to death as well. According to Kant, these may be less immoral than the original murder, however they are both immoral.

The second- "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, self included, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end"
This means that you should value every rational being just for being a rational being, and not simply a means to an end. This was left out by you (I'm assuming on accident) but I feel that this is possibly the most applicable and essential statement by Kant, at least in regards to this discussion. Kant feels that every single human being, even criminals, deserves to be treated as a end.

Sorry for the extremely long winded explanation, but I just felt that it needed to be clarified.


---Edit-----
I willl post my actual response to the topic of discussion soon, but as always, homework is somewhat of an issue.
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Bramenstein

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PostSubject: Re: Topic #2 - Capital Punishment   Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:57 am

Now for my actual response to the topic at hand. Capital punishment isn't a good method for a number of reasons. I think the main point over anything should be that it doesn't work.

on Thursday Buff State had a speaker who came in to talk about capital punishment. His main point was the mental health of all of his clients. He stated that of all of his clients, the average IQ was around a 75-80 with the highest being somewhere around 105. His clients each had a large number of psychological problems including schizophrenia, chromosomal disorders, among many others. Also nearly all violent crimes are those that are committed in the heat of the moment, and thus the person is usually not thinking rationally. My main point is that the vast majority of people that commit murder are not thinking of the punishment that they will receive for doing a certain action, they just do it and then think of the consequences some time afterward.

In addition to this studies have shown that when presented with an aggressive consequence, people are more likely to act in an aggressive manner. So if it has any effect, it is likely to cause more violence then it solves.

Another reason is that other countries often can easily point to the fact that we are the only industrialized democratic who still practices capital punishment. Many countries rightfully complain that we dictate what other countries should do while we still use a practice that is done by countries that are often seen as backward or evil.

Most importantly I feel that it is a contradiction in our morality. If someone has taken a life, then that is the only punishment that is fitting for them is taking their life. I feel that even though many don't regard this as Hammurabi's "Eye for an Eye" but it is.


An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind
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Tiff <3

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PostSubject: Re: Topic #2 - Capital Punishment   Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:26 am

I’m actually quite torn on this issue. I would like to say that I believe violent criminals deserve death, but then again I hate to think of anyone killing anyone. I think that the main feeling people get when they hear of a violent criminal is wanting him dead, gone, and out of the picture so he can’t hurt anyone anymore – so that his very name can be erased from everything and people can move on with their lives, feeling that the victim has been avenged. They like to think of the criminal as the victim of his own heinous crimes. It makes him an example for the rest of the bad seeds in society that have even thought of doing what he did.

But, revenge is never the answer. I do believe that anyone who breaks a law, especially in so violent and terrible a manner, does not deserve the rights of ordinary citizens anymore, but their rights to life still remain theirs.

However, this does bring up a strange question. We talked in my history class about how each criminal takes up about (don’t quote me on this – I have the number written down, but it’s at school and I’m home for spring break) $80,000 to keep them in prison per year. My teacher said we should just flog them and send them home so that they wouldn’t take up so much of our tax dollars. I personally don’t want to spend that money on a bunch of lowlife criminals when they get lots of amenities that they don’t have to pay for. A lot of younger people in bad areas get arrested on purpose so they don’t have to stay out in the streets. So, to keep tax dollars down, would killing them be the right answer? Not all of them, but the worst ones? That would save the states money, but would it be the right answer?

That’s interesting that our country is one of the only ones that still practices capital punishment. I wonder if they fare better and have less crime.

Keeping criminals in prison, while it doesn’t take away their lives, costs the country lots of money per year. It’s less barbaric, but does it really help the crime rate?

I’m trying to keep my opinions straight, since I think both answers have their pros and cons. Capital punishment is good for practical, financial reasons and to help the families of the victims feel better. However, it is barbaric and goes toward the “eye for an eye” idea. I think imprisonment and rehabilitation is good because everyone deserves a chance to get better, it’s more humane, and keeps the criminals contained and out of society. However, how many of those criminals “get better”? It also takes a lot of money to fund this, and some well-behaved criminals are allowed to leave early and go back out into society.

(Letting a criminal out because of “good behavior” is not a good idea. They should be made to stay for the entire sentence unless the crime is minor.)

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scottfer918



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PostSubject: Re: Topic #2 - Capital Punishment   Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:40 pm

In response to Bram, to clarify my position. I opened with: "... It ought to be reserved for the most horrific of crimes, and under circumstances where it can be reasonably shown that a sane, i.e. full conscience individual, intentionally destroyed the life or lives of others. "

I said sane to imply that I understand that many, many murders are not committed from a rational state of mind, and I agree with you, these cases should not be subjected to a Kantian argument, it doesn't make sense to do that. Just as it doesn't make sense to sentence a clinically insane, mentally deficient, or "impassioned," individual to the death penalty.

However, I feel there are still residuals that knowingly committed such heinous crimes, committed them from a rational point of view too. examples I would include are, killing for money, power; and most horrifying, instances of genocide, when a person in great power abuses their position for twisted purposes, political or otherwise.

Also I would just like to point to the fact, regardless of our interpretation of Kant's imperatives, these are his views on capital punishment: http://www.philosophy.umd.edu/Faculty/SKerstein/140s09/kant.html

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PostSubject: Re: Topic #2 - Capital Punishment   Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:05 am

I can completely agree with you that some one that kills another person probably would deserve to die, and there are clearly some benefits to it. I can admit to that, however I feel that in a thing that is as inherently as valuable as human life, we cannot let it be thrown away.

It was brought up the economic effects of keeping so many prisoners in our jails. I feel that this a dangerous path to take in logic. Are humans only worth what the goods and services that they produce? If this is the case then why not apply the same logic to many other groups that produce vastly less than others. Why keep elderly people? They will never be able to be productive as they once were. Why keep the physically, or mentally handicapped around? Obviously this is not what you guys were saying at all, but I feel that we cannot value a human based solely on their economic value.

Also to respond to Tiffany's question about whether capital punishment reduces the rate of crime. The countries that still practice capital punishment have a much higher rate of homicide than the countries who don't have this as part of their laws. I'm not saying that one causes the other, but there is most certainly a correlation between the two.
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PostSubject: Re: Topic #2 - Capital Punishment   Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:31 am

Ok this reply might be short but my first one got deleted soooo.....

Long story short I feel we should have the death penalty for any prisoner with a sentance of 20 years or more.

I feel ths way because criminals are not members of society. They are hardly considered people. If you cant follow societies rules you dont deserve societies sympathy. I feel once you commit a crime you are no longer a person. You are now a criminal. And therefore deserve no pardon. At this point they are no more then burdens to society. With 20 years in a prison a person cannot function in society. They won't get a good job, they won't fit in with normal society, and when they are old they will have no retirement fund and will ultimatly cost good, normal, functioning, rule abiding citizens thousands upon millions of tax dollars that culd be used for better purposes you know like schools, or getting rid of the national debt or really anything.

Once you commit a crime despite whatever the cause or random lapse of judgment you have to face the consequence. If I hit someone in my car even if it was an accident I am responsible. The idea that someone doesn't think about the consequences doesn't pardon them from the crime. That just means they are stupid and cannot control yourself. I consider their death/imprisonment a beneift to mankind and a way to advance the breed of normal sane calm people.

To wrap it up...

Criminals=economic waste
Criminals= Not citizens
Not Citizens= No Rights
Economic waste+No rights=Should be put down
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