The Death Penalty for People that Kill Other People

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The problem the discussants face when encountering the topic of capital punishment often involves distinctly different underlying philosophic assumptions, which lie either in the metaethical analysis or the normative theory on which they are basing their claims. It makes as much sense to discuss an applied issue like the death penalty while ignoring the underlying philosophic principles as trying to build an edifice from the top to the bottom. What these discussions need are fundamental structures in place from which the discussion can progress and have context.Normative systems are customarily divided between deontological and teleological systems. The former refers to systems constructed on absolute, unchangeable laws that dictate how one must act in all circumstances, regardless of the shifting variables which cause complications. The latter refers to systems based on the consequences of the action being considered: whether it gives rise to good or bad effects, in the long run, dictates whether the action itself is morally admissible or not (MacDonald and Beck-Dudley). The following perspective on the death penalty is based on neither. Deontologists and teleologists have given their arguments for and against in the issue for decades, never reaching a consensus because they fail to address the more fundamental issues involved, such as the nature of punishment, the nature of human life, and the nature of human rights. The following natural rights perspective, taken in part from the British philosopher John Locke, holds that the death penalty is justifiable in terms of each individual human being’s right to life—the right not to be interfered with or used as someone else’s means. A murderer violates his victim’s right to life under these conditions. Seeing as murder, under the natural rights framework, is the most heinous crime that an individual can commit, such penalties ought to be mandatory with very broad conditions.