A case for capital punishment

Journal of Social Philosophy 20 (3):64-76 (1989)
We shall argue that there is adequate moral justification for capital punishment with linkage, that is, with linkage to keeping non-murderers from dying. We present the argument with two aims in mind. The first is to question the conventional wisdom, seldom challenged even by proponents of capital punishment, that being an abolitionist is closely connected to having a civilized respect for human life. This conventional wisdom, we hope to show, is somewhat off the mark. To this end we exhibit structural similarities between so-called lifeboat dilemmas and the public's relationship to a murderer. In a lifeboat dilemma one must choose between saving this life or that, since the lifeboat will not hold both persons. Now if this life were an innocent's and that one a murderer's, a choice to save the latter would not be met with accusations of callousness towards human life. We hope to project everyone's intuitions about this case onto the more baffling case of a society's relationship to the murderers and dying innocents in its midst
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9833.1989.tb00461.x
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References found in this work BETA
John Rawls (2009/2005). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press 133-135.
Peter Singer (1972). Famine, Affluence, and Morality. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
John Rawls (1955). Two Concepts of Rules. Philosophical Review 64 (1):3-32.

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