The question of whether or not Capital Punishment is ethical
has been a problem society has faced for a long time. The death penalty is given
to those who commit crimes so heinous, like murder, that society believes the criminal
responsible deserves death as a punishment. A widely controversial subject, the
death penalty ethical question is split among many people of differing ideas with
some believing it is bad, and some believing it to be good. This essay will go
over why the death penalty is ethical from the stances of Immanuel Kant and Utilitarianism.

Immanuel Kant believed that the death penalty was morally
justifiable in certain cases. He absolutely insisted on the capital punishment
for murders saying, “whoever has committed murder, must die” (Kant).
He believed that a society that does not sentence someone who has killed people
to death turns into an accomplice of crime. Kant criticizes the notion that
nobody has a right to deprive a person of a right to live. He believed that a
state should have the right to kill a murderer.

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Kant believed that capital punishment is justified only
regarding serious crimes such as murder or anything that causes a very large
amount of damage to society. He believed it was impossible to allow any type of
situation where a murderer should be entitled to any legal rights and would be
able to justify his actions. He also believed that we could not replace capital
punishment and didn’t know what could replace it if it was abolished. Kant
thought that if a criminal is not punished then society has a controversial
nature and undermines itself. He also believed punishing an innocent man by
accident was better than failing to punish someone who has committed a crime and
believed a murderer sentenced to death shouldn’t be allowed to appeal for a
lighter punishment.

The death penalty in the United States is reserved for only the
most heinous of crimes. It is not a state-run lottery that randomly chooses people
at random from among all those convicted of murder. Instead, it is a system
that selects the worst of the worst. If you were to sentence killers like the
ones previously described to a lighter punishment, such as a long period in
prison, would be disproportionate to the severity of the crime. Kant insisted
on the capital punishment for murderers. Kant said that “whoever has committed murder, must die”
(Kant). A society that does not sentence a murderer to death turns into an
accomplice of this crime.

 

Utilitarianism views the death penalty as being morally
justifiable if it benefits society as a whole or promotes general happiness. So,
if someone committed a heinous crime like murder or rape then it would promote
the general happiness of the public to have that person be punished with the
death penalty. So, while even though punishing criminals might cause sadness
and pain for them and the people who are close to them, these punishments will
ensure the happiness of the society as a whole. It can be said that
Utilitarianisms support death penalty because, violating laws causes pain for
the majority of the society so preventing this pain is necessary. However, they
don’t believe it is all right to punish criminals in order to give them what
they deserve or exact revenge or retribution on them. The problem with retribution,
for utilitarianists, is that it promotes suffering without any gain in
happiness.

Utilitarianists also believe capital punishment is meant to
deter many criminals from committing murder. The severity of losing one’s life is
intended to cause fear and consequently prevent crime. The death penalty is
also better than life imprisonment because it prevents the criminal who
committed such heinous crimes from being released from prison and committing them
again. From this viewpoint, the taking of the criminal’s life is justified because
it prevents the taking of other, innocent lives. If decided that the permitting
the criminal to live may result in consequences of more terrible crimes, then capital
punishment would be considered an appropriate alternative in that case.

These views show that the death penalty is an ethical
solution to terrible crimes. All of these viewpoints state that the death
penalty should only be used in scenarios where the criminal in question has
committed the most heinous of crimes, murder. Kant states that if a criminal
has killed someone then he forfeits his rights as a human being and his
punishment should be equal to the crime.

Executing murderers prevents them
from committing their crime again, and thus protects innocent victims. The good
outweighs the bad, and the executioner is morally justified in taking the
murderer’s life. It is actually more morally wrong to simply incarcerate a
murderer to a life of air-conditioning, television equipped prison where they
get three free meals a day, recreational time, and visits from people close to
them. Someone who murders another person can only be made to pay for their
actions by forfeiting their rights and giving their life in place of the person
they killed. It should be this way because a loss of freedom does not compare
to loss of life. If the punishment for smaller crimes such as theft is imprisonment,
then the punishment for murder must be even more severe, because human life is
much more valuable than any material item. For example, if a murderer took the
life of a child and the criminal was only given a life sentence then, the
family of the victim will be paying taxes for his meals and his television. And
if he were to take the college courses that prison might offer him, the family
of the victim would be financing that as well. This goes against Kant and utilitarianism
because it doesn’t strip the criminal of their rights or punish them accordingly,
but it also doesn’t promote happiness to the victim’s family.

Many people also tend to claim
that the death penalty is just a means of revenge. However, it is not while in
reality, the murderer actually gets off fairly easy when they are sentenced to
death. The murderer is often only injected with a lethal injection. If a person
is given the lethal injection they are put to sleep and then given a shot that
will stops their heart. The criminal dies from overdose and respiratory and
cardiac arrest while they are unconscious. The small amount of pain the
criminal goes through does not even begin to compensate for the pain of the
victims and their families.

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