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So the question is simple, "Is the death penalty ethical?'. To be more specific is it ethical for someone convicted in a fair trail of their peers to be sentenced to death for the crimes he or she committed? Is it ethical or certain crimes and situations and not others?

 

In my opinion there are many circumstances in which the death penalty would be ethical. If a person has shown a blatant disrespect for human life and decency numerous times it would appear to me that they have lost their right to live.

 

What are your opinions?

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well the first thing I'd get rid of if the jury of peers. The idea of a group of anybodies with quite possibly no real training in critical analysis and examination, and no real degree of knowledge in

I've been enjoying your posts on this. I don't agree with this statement though. I can see the death penalty as an ethical punishment for certain crimes, and I do, while indicting a particular legal

I agree that the justice system is deeply flawed. I live in Australia, and was recently on a jury trial for a murder case. It was an absolute joke and all it did was make me deeply concerned about the

well the first thing I'd get rid of if the jury of peers. The idea of a group of anybodies with quite possibly no real training in critical analysis and examination, and no real degree of knowledge in the fields that have to do with human behavior and forensics and ethics just seems like a bad idea to me. Replace that with a panel of forensics specialists, ethicists and behaviorists plus experienced cops or something and whatnot, and I'd more than happily allow capital punishment. (to be fair, I personally tend to have little regard for human life and if someone's repeatedly or solidly proven themselves to be better off not being allowed out and about on the streets and they're not being put to indentured use towards some sort've productive gain (lets say mining as a simplistic example) I'm realistically perfectly happy to kill um off rather than waste resources on keeping them imprisoned... but for the sake of this thread I'll play the idealist)

 

Alright, I realize the following is going to be overly simplified, I'm just using it as a rudimentary philosophical framework based on some "ideals".

 

Off the top of my head without looking up stats I can imagine 4 simplified killing types (I realize there are probably more, as well as crossovers);

1) The Freak Out Killer - I stumbled on my boyfriend with someone else and went a'stabbin' or I got scared while mugging someone and pulled the trigger to get rid of a witness; anger, jealousy, fear, vengeance whatever

2) The Impulse Killer - someone who just lashes out in rage, doesn't know when to stop punching, maybe raised in an environment where killing is a matter of course (gang warfare, etc), and "crazies," the dangerously insane, whatever.

3) The Active/"Hot" Sociopath - anyone who simply kills for the pleasure of killing. Simply malicious and like to end life. No reason needed (maybe impulsively driven)

4) The Practical/"Cold" Sociopath - not necessarily malicious, but is simply willing to eliminate what they perceive as an obstacle or threat to their own success.

 

For the sake of simplicity I'd say that it's not justifiable to execute most Type 1 & 2 Killers. 2 in particular could benefit from rehabilitation/therapy/treatment, while Type 1 killers may have been in a sense justifiably emotionally driven to their actions and unless they're particularly 2-like might never kill again. Don't know what to do about them, but the point is I probably wouldn't have them killed.

 

Type 3 Killers are probably just not worth the effort, and it's simply a waste of resources to keep them around for a lifetime so might as well execute them if you're not willing to use them for medical experimentation / scientific research.

 

Type 4 is where I feel uncertain... ideal representatives of the archetype would, ideally, probably realize that they'll be too closely watched on the outside to ever get away with it and just have to grudgingly do things the hard way. But maybe not. And of course that would not really render them "safe," just muzzled. But maybe if they were forced into an utterly mundane life in which the gains from obstacle-elimination just aren't worth it? Is that good enough for letting them loose? Even if closely watched?

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Wouldn't it be a good idea to define 'ethical' first so that there is a consistent benchmark for the purposes of this discussion?...I'm thinking you are going to get religious/non-religious perspectives which might turn it into a bit of a mess.

 

I tend to agree with AzurePhoenix; I agree with the use of the death penalty in some circumstances but the determination of guilt should not be left to a group of unqualified people.

 

Is it ethical? I can't say until someone defines it.

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To have my support, capital punishment would have to satisfy two conditions;

 

(1): I would only support death penalty if it could be justified on rational grounds, i.e.: if it was a very effective deterrent. Killing someone simply because his/her crimes are disgusting is, in my opinion, quite disgusting as well, especially since we always run the risk of executing an innocent, or someone mentally unstable. In short, we run the risk of killing a perfectly innocent person, to save absolutely nobody.

 

(2): It would have to be fair. For example; for the same crime, minorities shouldn't get death penalty more often (which seem to be the case in the US).

 

I'm actually not against death penalty on principle, but neither of my conditions are satisfied, and even if death penalty was an effective deterrent I would have to think about it very seriously. But for now, it seems pretty simple to me; death penalty is ineffective as a deterrent, it seems hard, if not impossible, to do it fairly, and the risk to kill an innocent is still very real. So it all comes down to revenge.

 

In short, we would kill someone, knowing we can't be sure he's guilty, knowing he could be getting death penalty because he's from a minority, knowing it won't save anyone's life, for what ?

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I'm perfectly fine with the death penalty, so long as it is for "serious" crimes only and applied consistently. Especially since here in the US the death penalty entitles the defendant to extra protections which are absent for any other sentence (which is why life imprisonment is "cheaper" and easier than death penalty and therefore more often sought instead).

 

However on a practical note, it means innocents will be executed and gives the government the power to permanently silence someone. So it may wind up not being worth it.

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However on a practical note, it means innocents will be executed and gives the government the power to permanently silence someone. So it may wind up not being worth it.

 

If the person was convicted by a jury of their peers wouldn't that make it hard for the government to silent people. Maybe I am naive, but I doubt the government could convince/persuade twelve people to convict someone with out it being leaked to the press.

 

Azure would you suggest hiring permanent expert juries who's entire job is to sit and hear case, or would you suggest that the pool of potential jurors be reduced to those dubbed as "experts"? If it is the former I would feel like it would led to many potential problems with jury tampering and bias.

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Make jury tampering a capital offense >:D

 

As for bias, defense attorneys prey on the average juror's emotional biases and prejudices as a matter of course anyhow. I would suspect that a more coldly, professionally analytical judicial panel would be less sensitive to emotional bias, particularly if their career is on the line.

But as for corruption; how do you ensure integrity beyond the threat of immediate termination of your job upon discovery of it? I'm not sure... other than to suggest that a division be in place to regularly examine career histories and look for any patterns or irregularities and whatnot that might suggest foul play.

And non-career panelists wouldn't have the benefit of familiarity and experience and might more easily get caught up in the thrill of it all and react as such, i would suspect.

Edited by AzurePhoenix
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And non-career panelists wouldn't have the benefit of familiarity and experience and might more easily get caught up in the thrill of it all and react as such, i would suspect.

 

True, I never considered this aspect of the idea. However, in hindsight I would agree that this could definitely be a problem. Especially in high profile well covered cases.

 

Would the idealist Azure consider the death penalty for cases other than murder? Such as violent rape or child molestation?

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True, I never considered this aspect of the idea. However, in hindsight I would agree that this could definitely be a problem. Especially in high profile well covered cases.
hrm... something i didn't consider though is that, from the opposite side of concern, it'd be harder to protect the identities of career-judiciary panelists. And under my system they'd be judge and jury, so, double the resentment. Eh, they're grownups. Pansies can go work at dairy queen instead.

 

Would the idealist Azure consider the death penalty for cases other than murder? Such as violent rape or child molestation?
The idealist me... I dunknow. Most would probably fall into the impulsive category, and if idealist me shows mercy to impulsive killers, can it fairly not show mercy to impulsive sex offenders? On the otherhand, Idealist-Me has no problem executing malicious sex offenders. (including those that act with forethought even if driven by their impulses)

 

I love your lack of regard for human life, waiting for you to say screw death penalty I want galidator combats. ~DJBruce~
As you wish :P

Maybe I'm evil, but I think it would be economical that, for any repeat offenders or notable offenders of malicious, violent or destructive crimes (this wouldn't be used for embezzling or insider trading or anything) should be placed into gladiatorial shows. Around the nation / world coliseums could be built, or existing stadiums altered, and people would be charged to come and indulge their human sadism (we love bloodsports) and watch scum fight and die (pay per view too). I guarantee it would make more money than american football, all the more so since only the tiniest amount would be spent on the contestants to keep them fed and properly imprisoned and whatnot (rather than pay them ridiculous sums for no reason... i hate football). And all that money could then be put right into the government. Judiciary systems, law enforcement, community upkeep/care, roadwork, power, environmental policies, etc etc.

 

...

 

I totally mean it.

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I have no problem with the death penalty as long as it's for the crime of murder and it isn't used in circumstantial cases. I have areal problem with circumstantial evidence, just because I had motive and opportunity doesn't make me guilty :doh: No wait not me, the guy on trial, yeah he did it, that's the ticket! :rolleyes:

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The Kantian answer is that the death penalty is just for murderers because imposing it is required to demonstrate our respect for the life of the person murdered. Hegel says that the whole purpose of criminal law punishing people is to vindicate the right -- to declare that the crime of the criminal is without advantage or meaning for him because the society negates its significance by the punishment imposed. You may steal to gain something, but if the society imposes a punishment on you more harmful than your theft was beneficial to you, then it has negated your own negation of the right, and thus upheld the right. The sole justification for criminal punishment is that a negation times a negation is a positive value. Some crimes on this formula are so vicious they can only be negated by the death penalty.

 

Those who worry about whether the death penalty works as a deterrent are simply on the wrong track, since the question about the death penalty is moral, not practical.

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Those who worry about whether the death penalty works as a deterrent are simply on the wrong track, since the question about the death penalty is moral, not practical.

 

What if someone views themselves as a pragmatist? They would there for concern themselves with the question does the death penalty do its practical job of deterring crime and removing violent and dangerous people from out society in order to make it safer.

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Ironically enough, I think it could be said that the death penalty upholds the high value our society ascribes to human life. When someone is convicted of wrongfully taking the lives of others, I feel that most peoples' gut reaction is, "so take his life". No I don't think the death penalty is an effective deterrent, but I think it keeps society in the mindset that human life is a valuable thing; not to be taken lightly.

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The death penalty is not ethical by any stretch so long as an innocent can be killed, and there is no work around humans have managed to think of yet that impresses me the slightest. Essentially we're saying we're willing to take the chance on killing someone who doesn't deserve it to keep from not killing someone who deserves it - to err on the side of murder, not on the side of prevention of innocent loss of life - or more appropriately, to err on the side of selfish motivations at other's expense.

 

Not only is this inconsistent with the ostensible mission statement of law and order, it is entirely consistent with a criminal mind, the very criminal mind we're supposedly opposing.

 

To be clear, if there were a mechanism that gauranteed 100% accuracy on guilt or innocence, I'd be all for it. Like Clint said...some folks need killin'.

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But your argument proves too much, since it is ultimately an argument against all law. The state must do nothing unjust, but if a court orders someone to pay damages in negligence and it makes a mistake in judging whether the party was really negligent or not, it does something unjust, so we should get rid of all tort law. If a court assigns one contracting party a penalty for breach of contract, but makes a mistake in doing so, then it acts unjustly, so we should never allow courts to rule on contracts. But if courts could not enforce the terms of contracts, no one would bother making contracts anymore, and with that, the entire capitalist system would collapse, etc. We have to assume that the justice system can be accurate, otherwise organized society would cease to exist.

 

Both Kant and Hegel rightly argue that the only reason for executing anyone must be because he morally deserves it and by this act society vindicates the right against the criminal's breach of it. To try to justify execution by deterrence can never work, since that would also justify picking someone at random, framing him for some capital offense, and then executing him in public in some horrible way, since the deterrent effect of that would be just as powerful as executing someone who really deserved it. If there were a long period when no murders were committed, deterrence would justify society in picking more and more people at random to frame for capital crimes and then executing them, since that would be the only way to reinforce the effect of deterrence during a long period when there was no just way to maintain its effectiveness.

 

Only justice as the sole principle of execution can justify only executing people who truly deserve it; deterrence would justify too many killings for different reasons.

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The death penalty is not ethical by any stretch so long as an innocent can be killed, and there is no work around humans have managed to think of yet that impresses me the slightest. Essentially we're saying we're willing to take the chance on killing someone who doesn't deserve it to keep from not killing someone who deserves it - to err on the side of murder, not on the side of prevention of innocent loss of life - or more appropriately, to err on the side of selfish motivations at other's expense.

 

Not only is this inconsistent with the ostensible mission statement of law and order, it is entirely consistent with a criminal mind, the very criminal mind we're supposedly opposing.

 

To be clear, if there were a mechanism that gauranteed 100% accuracy on guilt or innocence, I'd be all for it. Like Clint said...some folks need killin'.

 

So basically your position can be summed up by Blackstone's formulation?

 

If you can never be sure if someone is actually guilty, how could you ever actual punish anyone for any crime they might have committed?

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But your argument proves too much, since it is ultimately an argument against all law. The state must do nothing unjust, but if a court orders someone to pay damages in negligence and it makes a mistake in judging whether the party was really negligent or not, it does something unjust, so we should get rid of all tort law. If a court assigns one contracting party a penalty for breach of contract, but makes a mistake in doing so, then it acts unjustly, so we should never allow courts to rule on contracts. But if courts could not enforce the terms of contracts, no one would bother making contracts anymore, and with that, the entire capitalist system would collapse, etc. We have to assume that the justice system can be accurate, otherwise organized society would cease to exist.

 

I disagree. To assume the justice system is 100% accurate is folly, and thus measurably unethical. It would appear more sincere and honest to instead accept human fallibility and balance the need for justice with the possibility of our errors. It doesn't suggest to cancel laws, it suggests reason within law. Since we know we can make mistakes, we provide the framework for error detection and correction - part of which is a penal solution that isn't a permanent physical condition, like chopping off limbs, or killin' folks.

 

All other forms of punishment, admittedly assumed not to include the cruel and unusual, are stoppable upon discovery of a failure of the justice mechanism. So mitigation of damage is possible, and compensatory solutions available - none of which exist when the party is wholly terminated.

 

If you can never be sure if someone is actually guilty, how could you ever actual punish anyone for any crime they might have committed?

 

By emplementing penal solutions that provide the deterrent justice requires, the punishment that victims require, and the mitigation human error requires.

Edited by ParanoiA
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Since we know we can make mistakes, we provide the framework for error detection and correction - part of which is a penal solution that isn't a permanent physical condition, like chopping off limbs, or killin' folks.

 

All punishment is permanent. The years of your life wasted, the skills you lost/never learned, that awkward hole in your resume, the time away from your family (possibly including divorce), these things are part of how our chosen punishment works -- and while it may be possible to regrow lost limbs in the future, these things you won't get back.

 

By emplementing penal solutions that provide the deterrent justice requires, the punishment that victims require, and the mitigation human error requires.

 

Sounds impossible.

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All punishment is permanent. The years of your life wasted, the skills you lost/never learned, that awkward hole in your resume, the time away from your family (possibly including divorce), these things are part of how our chosen punishment works -- and while it may be possible to regrow lost limbs in the future, these things you won't get back.

 

 

 

Sounds impossible.

 

We're doing it right now, minus the death penalty. That's jail. Maybe a better way to describe it would have been to say a penal solution that can be discontinued? But the key concept is "mitigation". That's the compromise between the necessity to penalize, and the reality that we can be wrong - to endorse punishments that can be mitigated in some way, in the event we're wrong, yet effective enough in the event we're right. Jail satisfies this for us, today. It can be discontinued when we've made a mistake, and forms of compensation possible.

 

That can't happen when someone's been put to death. There is no possibility to discontinue punishment and there is no form of compensation to the victim. Such a punishment ignores the possibility our justice system can fail; that humans can be wrong.

 

Of course, don't misunderstand. I'm not lofting incarceration and common law as some ideal we've met. I'm merely pointing out how each functions within today's context of penal solutions and mitigating imperfect justice.

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I agree that the justice system is deeply flawed. I live in Australia, and was recently on a jury trial for a murder case. It was an absolute joke and all it did was make me deeply concerned about the whole structure of the legal system. Our alleged murderer was Filipino, and there was one man who decided he was guilty from day one. His arguments were as follows...

 

'The cops wouldn't bring him to trial if he wasn't guilty.'

'You know what these Filipinos are like. They all cover for each other.'

I've done four other murder trials in my life, and we found the guy guilty every time.'

 

Yes, he wanted to keep his record off guilty verdicts going.

 

Then there were about half the jurors who kept commenting how it was 'just like CSI' and were determined to solve the case by inventing intricate motives, of which there was ABSOLUTELY no evidence. They wanted to crack it and have everyone go 'Of course! Why didn't the police notice this! You're a genius!'

 

In the end we found the guy not guilty, although it was 11 to 1 against with the racist refusing to even speak to us or review the evidence. Our last day was spent playing cards whilst he listened to his walkman and refused to discuss his reasoning. One kid, 19, decided that although he didn't think he had done it, that he was a 'bad man' and should be punished so he voted guilty anyway until convinced otherwise.

 

My point is, this was a murder trial. We don't have capital punishment here, but if we did, there is absolutely no way that myself, or any of the people in that room were fit to judge whether or not a man should die.

 

I would remove the jury system entirely and work with a panel of five judges. At least they have the necessary reasoning and legal skills. If we do allow the jury system, then the selection should be final with no vetos allowed from either side, as this is a form of jury rigging in my opinion. But in that case, the death penalty, even if it was somehow ethically justifiable in terms of the crimes, should never be allowed when this is how verdicts are decided.

 

There is also a strong emotional element in somebody killing a child, as opposed to an adult that could skew judgement. There are just too many variables involved. Just my opinion based on a terrifying experience...

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What do you guys believe to be suitable-crimes for the death penalty?

 

I feel like there are far to many different situations and extenuating circumstances to say definitively say crime A deserves the death sentence, while crime B does not. I would say the death penalty is suitable for any criminal who has shown a lack of respect for human life and decency and does not appear to show signs of being reformed.

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I think the Death Penalty is only acceptable for the greater good or to stop any large threats. A terroist with aim to bring harm to innocents deserves to be punished - a terroist who intends to bring justice to the world, should not. If someone kills a child, then the death penalty is acceptable - if that someone had a mental problem then maybe permanent isolation from the world would be a better option. If a father see's his son inches away from being shot by the police - and picks up a gun to defend his son, and shoots an officer - that man doesn't deserve the penalty, as by the rules of nature he is choosing the right option, defending/nurturing his off-spring.

 

The Death Penalty should only be involved in-cases of murder or tampering with the will of nature - nothing more. It should most definetly not be introduced into people who disagree with the government/science - as nature creates the rules.

 

IMO

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To answer the ethics of the death penalty we need to ask ourselves just one question.

 

Can murder ever be considered ethical?

 

To agree with the death penalty is to answer yes to this question. (To agree with war also answers yes to this question, but we are discussing the death penalty, not war, so I will save that debate for another time.:unsure:)

 

Now before anyone gets offended by that statement please understand that I am only talking with respect to capital punishment and no other form of murder. In my own humble opinion, If a person agrees with the death penalty they are saying that it is ethical to murder under certain circumstances, for example, a person has been convicted by a Jury of his peers and is sentenced to death in a city that still has the death penalty.

 

I personally say no to the death penalty as I have seen too many items in the news that show someone wrongly convicted being released after proving their innocence eventually. If we accept the death penalty and an innocent person is convicted and sentenced to death, they are being murdered by the state. No way around it, if an innocent person is dead by other than natural causes, then they have been murdered. More to the point, anyone involved in the conviction of this innocent is logically and technically, an accessory to the murder, this includes the members of the Jury who vote to convict. If the police were to treat the death of an innocent person convicted and put to death as a crime, everyone involved from the arresting officers to the Judge who passed down the sentence would be arrested as accessories to the fact.

 

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that in the case of a person wrongfully convicted and put to death, that a criminal investigation should be started, I am simply stating that if an ivestigation were started, who the guilty parties would be. Should we convict and sentence them to death for the murder of the innocent? If we did that, we would be no better than those who do kill for the sake of killing. Not to mention the fact that if we did that, the killing would never stop.

 

Just two days ago, I read in one of Australia's newspapers (The Sunday Mail) a single paragraph about a Texas man by the name of Michael Anthony Green, who had spent 27years in prison for a violent crime he did not commit. Had this crime been decided to be worthy of the death penalty, he would have been dead all these years. As it stands, he is (or at least should be) entitled to a hefty compensation due to the fact he now has to build the life he should have had, the life that was cruelly snatched away from him because he had been convicted of a crime that he didn't commit. The headline over this small paragraph in the paper read "'Rapist' Freed". He had just been released because he had finally proved his innocence and he is still being called a rapist. He is going to have to deal with that title for the rest of his life. People are always going to look sideways at him wondering what he was guilty of, after all how could he have been convicted in the first place if he wasn't guilty of something? At least he is alive and can try to start his life over, but if he were dead, what then?

 

If they were to find the real person, the one who should have been convicted 27 years ago, would they kill him too? Would two people die for the same crime? And if not, who would explain to the victim that the true guilty person couldn't be put to death because she had made the wrong identification all those years ago and so someone else had already died for it? That the crime against her was severe enough for someone to die for it, just not the truly guilty party? Could you be the person to tell her this and make her feel guilty that an innocent man had died because she was so traumatised that she made a mistake? I couldn't do it. To add that kind of guilt to the trauma that she is already suffering would be too cruel.

 

What do you guys believe to be suitable-crimes for the death penalty?

 

I do not believe that any person can decide the answer to that question without offending or upsetting another. To draw a line and say that those crimes above the line are severe enough to deserve the death penalty but those below the line are not severe enough to deserve the death penalty, is to tell a victim of a crime that they were not hurt enough.

 

If we were to decide for example, that a crime that caused the death of the victim was severe enough for the death penalty but if the victim survived the crime then the severity was insufficient for the death penalty, how would the victim who was raped and beaten and cut up so badly that she had to spend months in hospital recovering from her injuries and even more months in counselling to try to get over the mental trauma feel, to learn that she wasn't hurt enough? Could you be the person to tell her that because she lived, so does the monster who terrorised her? I certainly couldn't.

 

No matter where we draw the line, there will always be someone below the line who we would have to tell that they weren't hurt enough.

Edited by DragonDancer
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To answer the ethics of the death penalty we need to ask ourselves just one question.

 

Can murder ever be considered ethical?

 

To agree with the death penalty is to answer yes to this question.

 

With respect to law and order, the state does not murder...it lawfully kills (executes). Murder is unlawful killing with malice aforethought. Using words like 'murder' with respect to lawful executions, whether one agrees with them or not, demeans your overall position because you are using an emotionally loaded word in the wrong context perhaps in order to add argumentative weight to your position...an appeal to emotion.

 

The emotions and concepts invoked by 'execution' are different to those caused by 'murder'. They are not synonymous. To lump a legal action and an illegal one under the same definition muddles any fruitful discussion.

 

You can still argue that execution is unethical but you should not call it murder because by any standard definition it isn't:

 

Murder, as defined in common law countries, is the unlawful killing of another human being with "malice aforethought", and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide (such as manslaughter). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder

 

In the laws of England, Scotland, and the United States, murder is defined as the criminal killing of a human being with malice afore-thought, or willful murder. In the law courts of these nations, conviction on a charge of willful murder rests upon establishing that the perpetrator was of sound mind when the act occurred. http://www.jrank.org/literature/pages/6795/Murder.html

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