Retributivist arguments against capital punishment

Journal of Social Philosophy 35 (2):188–197 (2004)
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This article argues that even if we grant that murderers may deserve death in principle, retributivists should still oppose capital punishment. The reason? Our inability to know with certainty whether or not individuals possess the necessary level of desert. In large part due to advances in science, we can only be sure that no matter how well the trial is administered or how many appeals are allowed or how many years we let elapse, we will continue to execute innocent persons for as long as we legalize capital punishment. Thus, on grounds of desert, this article argues that retributivists should oppose capital punishment.



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Thom Brooks
Durham University

Citations of this work

Punishment and Justice.Jules Holroyd - 2010 - Social Theory and Practice 36 (1):78-111.
The Structure of Death Penalty Arguments.Matt Stichter - 2014 - Res Publica 20 (2):129-143.

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References found in this work

A retributivist argument against capital punishment.Daniel McDermott - 2001 - Journal of Social Philosophy 32 (3):317–333.
Does It Matter if the Death Penalty Is Arbitrarily Administered?Stephen Nathanson - 1994 - In A. John Simmons, Marshall Cohen, Joshua Cohen & Charles R. Beitz (eds.), Punishment: A Philosophy and Public Affairs Reader. Princeton University Press. pp. 308-324.

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