Capital Punishment and Realism

Philosophy 66 (256):177 - 190 (1991)

David Cockburn
University of Wales Lampeter
In its treatment of capital punishment Amnesty International gives a central place to the suffering of the prisoner. Two quite distinct forms of suffering are relevant here. There is the psychological anguish of the person awaiting execution; and there is the physical suffering which may be involved in the execution itself. It is suggested that if we reflect clearly on this suffering we will conclude that the death penalty involves cruelty of a kind which makes it quite unacceptable. It is to be condemned on the same ground as torture is to be condemned: on the ground, that is, that it involves the infliction of an unacceptable degree of suffering
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DOI 10.1017/S0031819100053055
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