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Do you believe the death penalty is unethical?


Lyudmilascience
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It bothers me that the image seems to sort by total count rather than a percentage.

China contains more than one sixth of humanity.

Agree completely. It should be controlled per capita. That said, it also highlights that we're keeping some pretty questionable company and we don't see too many other (any other??) first world nations on the top.
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Raider5678 might like this.

T

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/07/08/world/prisons-in-japan-are-safe-but-harsh.html

Mr. Akemitsu, who is planning a suit against prison authorities, said the jail was run like a military outfit. But he said he and his cellmates could still speak freely, play chess, write letters or read books during their free time.

 

Research by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has found that prisoners can be punished for "looking around," "speaking without permission" or wiping away sweat without permission. When punished with solitary confinement, prisoners are sometimes forced to sit motionless for hours.

Describing a punishment of solitary confinement after a fight

"At night they came in and offered me a meal of rice and miso soup," said Mr. Akemitsu, who was released in May. "They helped me eat and drink, and then they tightened the belt further. I almost suffocated, and I vomited.

 

The upshot of all this is no gangs, no rapes and hardly any murder, and hardly any escapes. Alas the prisoners are still sueing the cruel system that kept them safe.

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It bothers me that the image seems to sort by total count rather than a percentage.

China contains more than one sixth of humanity.

Another, more telling, approach would be to divide by the corresponding figures for civilised countries.

UK: zero

France zero

Germany:zero

Australia Zero

and so on.

 

Feel free to use per capita numbers if you prefer

 

The upshot of all this is no gangs, no rapes and hardly any murder, and hardly any escapes. Alas the prisoners are still sueing the cruel system that kept them safe.

No, The upshots of the Japanese contempt for criminality are that they have a low crime rate and harsh prisons.

Edited by John Cuthber
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Having read through the posts, my first reaction is that the main issue seems to be confounded with related, but essentially extraneous side issues, which makes it harder to address the thrust of the question of the thread.

 

-Should we not just be considering the death penalty vs. some other corrective means, be it a life sentence or counseling or whatever, not suggesting that it is parallel to quite different questions such as whether one is justified in killing an intruder to ones home in the middle of the night, which is quite a complex enough issue in itself. (On the basis of relevancy)

 

-Should we not exclude the matter of fact consideration as to whether some criminals escape and commit more murders? (A technicality, not an ethical criterion)

We could still pose the question as to whether the death penalty is justified in a society where no criminal ever escaped, so why not just leave it at that.

 

-Should we not exclude the economics of the death penalty, e.g., cost of lethal injections vs. cost of imprisonment? (Again, a technicality, not a main criterion.)

 

-Should we not exclude personal faith as to what is ethical from the discussion? (For the usual reasons)

 

-Should we not avoid ethical relativism...saying that what is right or wrong depends upon which society/culture one is looking at, or that right or wrong is determined by majority rule suggests that the answer is never anything more than a matter of opinion.

  • The problem with that is that anything can be included under the umbrella of cultural relativism. I imagine that the majority of people in many European towns thought it quite ethical to burn suspected witches.
  • Majority rule is not supposed to definitively determine what is right or wrong....I would suggest, but only to provide a working definition. Indeed, abortion, euthanasia, marijuana usage, gay marriage, etc., etc., can be seen to be right (by virtue of majority rule or at least representational majority rule via legislatures) in one state and wrong in another state, or right in one state in one year and wrong in another.

Indeed, unless the person posing the question of this thread defines the ethical framework from which the question is to be judged, it seems so vague as to defy a direct answer.

 

I would suggest breaking down the question into its several possible interpretations as to the effects of the death penalty, not whether it is "right" or "wrong" per se, e.g.:

 

  • Does our society condone the death penalty on the basis of vengeance (as indeed it often does judging from what one hears in the news).
  • Does the death penalty have a preventative effect, i.e., does it discourage others from committing murder or whatever?
  • Is the death penalty as a form of punishment consistent with the religious and cultural values that a society normally espouses? If not, then why not...what makes the death penalty special? For example, does it constitute 'cruel and unusual' punishment?

Indeed, I think that the last point of these three is the most crucial: Any given society can have any sort of ethics whatsoever. Unless one appeals to external authorities (i.e., religion), there are no absolutes per se, but only opinions. Whether the opinions of an elite (e.g., legislators, philosophers, or the wealthy) are meant to determine the ethics of a society, or whether we do a head count (e.g., as per the pure democracy of Athens at one point in history), or whether we have a combinaation of these two (representative democracy by those who supposedly know more about the law than the average person on the street), we still have no absolute ethical standards. Thus, I think all that we really can do is ask whether a society is being consistent in its ethical approach when it condones such things as a death penalty, torture of terrorists, imprisonment of homosexuals, testing cosmetics on animals, placing chickens in cages for life, or whatever situation that might appear to us at first glance or on a gut level to be a little bizarre.

Edited by disarray
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. ..Thus, I think all that we really can do is ask whether a society is being consistent in its ethical approach...

This is my argument; it is, essentially, collectively subjective what constitutes moral behaviour.

Edited by StringJunky
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Perhaps we are on the same page when it comes to defining morality in terms of what a society collectively and subjectively believes is right or wrong, but as I said, I am more focused on whether any given society is being inconsistent in its application of its ethical/moral standards and thus being hypocritical;

 

For example, one might argue that it is hypocritical for

  • a society to say that it is wrong to kill by committing abortions, yet it is good to be able to take the life of certain prisoners
  • a society to say that it is wrong to try to get revenge by taking thing the property of thieves, but it is okay to get revenge by taking the life of certain prisoners
  • a society to say that it is wrong to consider a person innocent until proven guilty, while at the same time acknowledging that it takes the lives of certain prisoners who might conceivably be innocent
  • a society to say that one of its religious tenets is not to kill (period), yet it is okay to take the lives of certain prisoners,
  • a society to say that two wrongs never make a right, but it is okay to take the lives of certain prisoners, etc.
Edited by disarray
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Perhaps we are on the same page when it comes to defining morality in terms of what a society collectively and subjectively believes is right or wrong, but as I said, I am more focused on whether any given society is being inconsistent in its application of its ethical/moral standards and thus being hypocritical;

 

For example, one might argue that it is hypocritical for

  • a society to say that it is wrong to kill by committing abortions, yet it is good to be able to take the life of certain prisoners
  • a society to say that it is wrong to try to get revenge by taking thing the property of thieves, but it is okay to get revenge by taking the life of certain prisoners
  • a society to say that it is wrong to consider a person innocent until proven guilty, while at the same time acknowledging that it takes the lives of certain prisoners who might conceivably be innocent
  • a society to say that one of its religious tenets is not to kill (period), yet it is okay to take the lives of certain prisoners,
  • a society to say that two wrongs never make a right, but it is okay to take the lives of certain prisoners, etc.

Medical assisted suicide is illegal and suicide is considered an act performed by those with mental health issues. In all areas of society other than the death penalty specifically killing people for any reason other than defense, even ones own self, is wrong. Every excuse/justification for the death penalty be a special exception is based in ethical relativism.

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Who needs universality of opinion to justify something; it's the majority opinion that matters. I repeat: if there is not majority support for any legislation or policy , it will NOT work. To pursue a policy that is not in harmony with theconsensus is essentially a totalitarian policy. If you notice my position is pragmatic, yours is ideological.

 

 

Except that this does happen — it's not a simple matter of popular vote. The vast majority of the US population, for example, is in favor of stronger gun control measures, which the government will not adopt. The prohibition was passed, even though it was not the will of the majority. As long as the issue is not the linchpin for the majority electing an official, a vocal minority can have tremendous influence.

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Except that this does happen — it's not a simple matter of popular vote. The vast majority of the US population, for example, is in favor of stronger gun control measures, which the government will not adopt. The prohibition was passed, even though it was not the will of the majority. As long as the issue is not the linchpin for the majority electing an official, a vocal minority can have tremendous influence.

If they hold the purse strings; corruption by any other name.

Edited by StringJunky
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-Should we not exclude the matter of fact consideration as to whether some criminals escape and commit more murders? (A technicality, not an ethical criterion)

We could still pose the question as to whether the death penalty is justified in a society where no criminal ever escaped, so why not just leave it at that.

 

 

That was brought up earlier, but if it was supported with evidence I missed it. Precisely how big of a problem is this?

If they hold the purse strings; corruption by any other name.

 

If you posit no corruption, then you are also taking an ideal rather than pragmatic position.

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Medical assisted suicide is illegal and suicide is considered an act performed by those with mental health issues. In all areas of society other than the death penalty specifically killing people for any reason other than defense, even ones own self, is wrong.

That is simply not true. While medically assisted death may technically be illegal, it is widely practiced in this country. While you cannot walk into a hospital and ask for help dying, if you are in the hospital and suffering, clearly dying, it is quite common for a doctor to knowingly provide a level of pain relief whose outcome will result in death.

This type of 'specific killing' may not be debated in Congress or on the internet, but in hospital rooms with the family involved it quietly occurs, is accepted, and is, IMHO, the right thing to do.

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That is simply not true. While medically assisted death may technically be illegal, it is widely practiced in this country. While you cannot walk into a hospital and ask for help dying, if you are in the hospital and suffering, clearly dying, it is quite common for a doctor to knowingly provide a level of pain relief whose outcome will result in death.

This type of 'specific killing' may not be debated in Congress or on the internet, but in hospital rooms with the family involved it quietly occurs, is accepted, and is, IMHO, the right thing to do.

It occurs in the UK too.

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That is simply not true. While medically assisted death may technically be illegal, it is widely practiced in this country. While you cannot walk into a hospital and ask for help dying, if you are in the hospital and suffering, clearly dying, it is quite common for a doctor to knowingly provide a level of pain relief whose outcome will result in death.This type of 'specific killing' may not be debated in Congress or on the internet, but in hospital rooms with the family involved it quietly occurs, is accepted, and is, IMHO, the right thing to do.

Murder is common on a relative level too. Commonality is not a good argument. Every law gets broken or ignored to some level. More states have laws against assisted suicide than do perform capital punishment. Saying that my comment was both "technically" right but "inaccurate" is contradictory.
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Murder is common on a relative level too. Commonality is not a good argument. Every law gets broken or ignored to some level. More states have laws against assisted suicide than do perform capital punishment. Saying that my comment was both "technically" right but "inaccurate" is contradictory.

I made no argument other than the one to show you were wrong.

 

Your first sentence was technically right. Your second sentence was inaccurate.

 

Nothing contradictory there at all.

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Medical assisted suicide is illegal and suicide is considered an act performed by those with mental health issues.

 

 

Legal in a few states (West coast and Vermont), and you have to be of sound mind to do it in Oregon and Washington.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assisted_suicide_in_the_United_States#Legal_requirements

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No, The upshots of the Japanese contempt for criminality are that they have a low crime rate and harsh prisons.

I once debated with someone, I think it was inow, but Im not sure, whether or not harsher punishments would do anything. They argued it did absolutely nothing what so ever because "nobody: EVER thought about the consequences. Would you say this is an anomaly in Japan? Edited by Raider5678
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I once debated with someone, I think it was inow, but Im not sure, whether or not harsher punishments would do anything. They argued it did absolutely nothing what so ever because "nobody: EVER thought about the consequences. Would you say this is an anomaly in Japan?

 

John will, of course reply, for himself but it would immediately occur to me that "a contempt for criminality" is not the same as "harsher punishments". I might go as far to say that the lower levels of crime and the harsh system of punishment BOTH flow from the contempt for criminality.

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I made no argument other than the one to show you were wrong.

 

Your first sentence was technically right. Your second sentence was inaccurate.

 

Nothing contradictory there at all.

No, it is against the law in more states that have the death penalty. Doctors have been arrested. You are simply trying to say that common is somehow equal to legal and that is nonsense. Last 3 presidents of the United States admit to drug use, drug use is common, it is still accurate to say drugs are illegal.

 

"Medical assisted suicide is illegal (true) and suicide is considered an act performed by those with mental health issues (true)." Neither statement is wrong. Laws are on the books with regards to assisted suicide. Meanwhile suicide itself is seen as a menatl heath issue. It you go into work tomorrow and tell your boss you are feeling suicidal what do you thing would happen? Would you be assisted is suicided or treated by mental health experts?

 

 

There simply are no real facts to support any of the arguments you've made so you are resorting to a tit for tat style of posting where everything, even things you conceded are "technically" correct are up for debate. You seek to chip away at arguments rather than present clear and tangible ones of you own.

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There simply are no real facts to support any of the arguments you've made so you are resorting to a tit for tat style of posting where everything, even things you conceded are "technically" correct are up for debate. You seek to chip away at arguments rather than present clear and tangible ones of you own.

Don't we all? I presented multiple arguments and all you did was focus on minor details of pointing them out to be wrong.

 

Question, who decides what's right or wrong? You completely ignored me on this.

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Don't we all? I presented multiple arguments and all you did was focus on minor details of pointing them out to be wrong.

 

Question, who decides what's right or wrong? You completely ignored me on this.

There are facts and then there are opinions. There aren't any facts you have listed that I have dismissed. What facts do you feel you listed where I focused on "minor" details? Calling something that is against the law illegal is a statement of fact and not an opinion where the right or wrong of that opinion is up for discussion.

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There are facts and then there are opinions. There aren't any facts you have listed that I have dismissed. What facts do you feel you listed where I focused on "minor" details? Calling something that is against the law illegal is a statement of fact and not an opinion where the right or wrong of that opinion is up for discussion.

When did I say facts? I said, "argument". Since when is the death penalty illegal in all states? Only in some. And if right and wrong are decided by the law, does that mean you've done a 180 now?

 

Once again. Who decides what's right and what's wrong?

 

Its. A. Penalty.

Edited by Raider5678
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No, it is against the law in more states that have the death penalty. Doctors have been arrested. You are simply trying to say that common is somehow equal to legal...

No, I'm not. Quit putting words in my mouth. This is twice now that I've told you I am not making that argument. Please pay attention.

 

There simply are no real facts to support any of the arguments you've made so you are resorting to a tit for tat style of posting where everything, even things you conceded are "technically" correct are up for debate. You seek to chip away at arguments rather than present clear and tangible ones of you own.

Give me a break Ten oz. You said "In all areas of society other than the death penalty specifically killing people for any reason other than defense, even ones own self, is wrong." THAT IS INCORRECT. I gave you an example. swansont gave you an example. StringJunky talked about it happening in the UK. Instead of admitting your mistake, you are trying to tap dance your way around it by harping on the part of your statement that I stated was correct, and making vague references to past statements. Is it really so hard for you to admit that you are not always correct?

 

"Medical assisted suicide is illegal (true) and suicide is considered an act performed by those with mental health issues (true)." Neither statement is wrong.

I CONCEDED YOUR FIRST SENTENCE WAS TRUE!

 

Why do you do this? Since you are having trouble reading what I've written, I'll put it here again for you:

 

"Your first sentence was technically right. Your second sentence was inaccurate."

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Ten Oz: you state that "Every excuse/justification for the death penalty be a special exception is based in ethical relativism."

 

Euthanasia is legal in other countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Colombia, and Luxembourg, and that assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Albania, Canada, and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Montana, and California.(As a related issued, abortion is or is not legal depending upon which state or country your are talking about and in what era), so I am not sure that your claim that there are negligible exceptions to your claim that only self-defense justified taking someone's life.

 

More to the point is your assumption that what is legal (often based on a representative democracy, not a referendum, more pure democratic vote) in any give country is not a form of ethical relativism. Indeed, I don't know what else one would call it when things such as the legality of euthanasia vary from country to country. And who is to say how many states whose laws go against the national consensus as to what is legal it takes before we acknowledge that some ethical standpoint is not absolute. Bottom line is that we can't strictly equate what is legal, whether by partial or unanimous consensus, with what is "right."

 

In any case, you seemed to have missed my point, which is that unless one brings in religious definitions, there will always be ethical relativism, so that the only thing one can do is to determine whether any given society is being reasonably consistent in its attitudes toward morality. A liberal, for example, might object to the thought that CEOs get away with tax evasion more easily than the janitor in one of his companies, or that a wolf of Wallstreet can fleece thousands of sweet old ladies of their lifelong earnings with impunity, while petty shopkeepers in some states have the book thrown at them. Similarly, a conservative might object to the thought that the government claims that it may not be able to pay out what they should to people who have worked to establish social security payments for their retirement, yet don't (supposedly) also threaten to reduce welfare to those who allegedly choose not to work. Indeed, Facebook is rife with people complaining of ethical inconsistencies in our society, e.g., I just read a meme that stated that " one can't preach that gay people are going to hell and then tween that your prayers are going out to Orlando."

 

So my point wasn't at as much about what is absolute and what is relative, or what is right and what is wrong (or the difficulty of making such determinations), but rather that it is at least possible to attempt to make some sort of objective assessments as to whether people's (inevitably subjective) ethical claims are consistent. Such determinations often, I would suggest shed light on those areas in our justice system that, for example, are skewed against minority groups in favor of more advantaged ones who hold more power and pull more political and legal strings.

Edited by disarray
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I once debated with someone, I think it was inow, but Im not sure, whether or not harsher punishments would do anything. They argued it did absolutely nothing what so ever because "nobody: EVER thought about the consequences. Would you say this is an anomaly in Japan?

No I would not say it's an anomaly.

What I would say is that I doubt I'm the only one who is tried of your persistent attempts to use logical fallacies to make your point.

This time round, it's a false dichotomy.

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Ten Oz: you state that "Every excuse/justification for the death penalty be a special exception is based in ethical relativism."

 

Euthanasia is legal in other countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Colombia, and Luxembourg, and that assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Albania, Canada, and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Montana, and California.(As a related issued, abortion is or is not legal depending upon which state or country your are talking about and in what era), so I am not sure that your claim that there are negligible exceptions to your claim that only self-defense justified taking someone's life.

 

More to the point is your assumption that what is legal (often based on a representative democracy, not a referendum, more pure democratic vote) in any give country is not a form of ethical relativism. Indeed, I don't know what else one would call it when things such as the legality of euthanasia vary from country to country. And who is to say how many states whose laws go against the national consensus as to what is legal it takes before we acknowledge that some ethical standpoint is not absolute. Bottom line is that we can't strictly equate what is legal, whether by partial or unanimous consensus, with what is "right."

 

In any case, you seemed to have missed my point, which is that unless one brings in religious definitions, there will always be ethical relativism, so that the only thing one can do is to determine whether any given society is being reasonably consistent in its attitudes toward morality. A liberal, for example, might object to the thought that CEOs get away with tax evasion more easily than the janitor in one of his companies, or that a wolf of Wallstreet can fleece thousands of sweet old ladies of their lifelong earnings with impunity, while petty shopkeepers in some states have the book thrown at them. Similarly, a conservative might object to the thought that the government claims that it may not be able to pay out what they should to people who have worked to establish social security payments for their retirement, yet don't (supposedly) also threaten to reduce welfare to those who allegedly choose not to work. Indeed, Facebook is rife with people complaining of ethical inconsistencies in our society, e.g., I just read a meme that stated that " one can't preach that gay people are going to hell and then tween that your prayers are going out to Orlando."

 

So my point wasn't at as much about what is absolute and what is relative, or what is right and what is wrong (or the difficulty of making such determinations), but rather that it is at least possible to attempt to make some sort of objective assessments as to whether people's (inevitably subjective) ethical claims are consistent. Such determinations often, I would suggest shed light on those areas in our justice system that, for example, are skewed against minority groups in favor of more advantaged ones who hold more power and pull more political and legal strings.

 

The context if this conversation is capital punishment in the United States. If we include the world than nothing is off the table. In some countries it is okay to kill gays, daughters that refuse to marry who their fathers want, and etc. In the United States it is illegal to kill outside of self defense with the exception of the death penalty. I am not assuming legal equals popular or the will of the people. Rather I am just pointing out that it is the standard. Can that change, should that change, of course isn't that what this thread is about? Death Penalty is legal and we are discussing whether or not it should be. Medical assisted suicide, abortion, and many other things are debated along the same lines. However, currently, the standard is Death penalty legal and medical assisted suicide illegal. That is just a simple dry fact. If you say millions in the U.S. are okay with medical assisted suicide or that many doctors will do it that doesn't change anything anymore than if I say millions are in the U.S. are aginst the death penalty. What is law is still law and obviously no law is followed and supported by all.

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