Criminal Justice Ethics 36 (2):152-182 (2017)

Abstract
It is a truism that there are erroneous convictions in criminal trials. Recent legal findings show that 3.3% to 5%of all convictions in capital rape-murder cases in the U.S. in the 1980s were erroneous convictions. Given this fact, what normative conclusions can be drawn? First, the article argues that a moderately revised version of Scanlon’ s contractualism offers an attractive moral vision that is different from utilitarianism or other consequentialist theories, or from purely deontological theories. It then brings this version of Scanlonian contractualism to bear on the question of whether the death penalty, life imprisonment, long sentences, or shorter sentences can be justified, given that there is a non-negligible rate of erroneous conviction. Contractualism holds that a permissible act must be justifiable to everyone affected by it. Yet, given the non-negligible rate of erroneous conviction, it is unjustifiable to mete out the death penalty, because such a punishment is not justifiable to innocent murder convicts. It is further argued that life imprisonment will probably not be justified (unless lowering the sentence to a long sentence will drastically increase the murder rate). However, whether this line of argument could be further extended would depend on the impact of lowering sentences on communal security.
Keywords contractualism  utilitarianism  the death penalty  life imprisonment  T. M. Scanlon  deterrence  erroneous conviction  wrongful conviction  false conviction
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Giving Desert its Due.Thomas M. Scanlon - 2013 - Philosophical Explorations 16 (2):1-16.
Statistical Explanation.Wesley C. Salmon - 1970 - In Robert Colodny (ed.), The Nature and Function of Scientific Theories. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 173--231.
Justifiability to Each Person.Derek Parfit - 2003 - Ratio 16 (4):368–390.

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Should Japan Abolish the Death Penalty? No Definite Answer Exists Yet.Sakiko Maki & Atsushi Asai - 2012 - Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 22 (1):27-32.
Contractualism and Punishment.Hon-Lam Li - 2015 - Criminal Justice Ethics 34 (2):177-209.
Whose Luck is It Anyway?R. A. Duff - 2008 - In Cunningham (ed.), Criminal Liability for Non-Aggressive Death. Ashgate. pp. 61-78.
Of Metaethics and Motivation: The Appeal of Contractualism.Pamela Hieronymi - 2011 - In R. Jay Wallace, Rahul Kumar & Samuel Richard Freeman (eds.), Reasons and Recognition: Essays on the Philosophy of T. M. Scanlon. Oxford University Press.
The Morality of the Death Penalty.Qiu Xinglong - 2005 - Contemporary Chinese Thought 36 (3):9-25.
Killing, Letting Die, and the Death Penalty.Brian K. Powell - 2016 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 30 (2):337-346.
Contractualism, Reciprocity, Compensation.David Alm - 2007 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 2 (3):1-23.
Contractualism's (Not so) Slippery Slope.Aaron James - 2012 - Legal Theory 18 (3):263-292.
La Peine de Mort En Yugoslavie Socialiste Et le Conflit des Sources Normatives.Ivan Vukovic - 2010 - Meta: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical Philosophy 2 (2):370-385.
Contractualism and the Significance of Perspective-Taking.Peter Timmerman - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (5):909-925.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2017-10-13

Total views
504 ( #17,299 of 2,497,996 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
63 ( #12,569 of 2,497,996 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes