Was talking to a friend the other day about death and we stumbled upon a strange argument in favor of the death penalty.
What we were originally talking about was whether death is something to rationally fear. By "death" we meant the absolute end of existence. So if you go to an afterlife, that's not real death in the sense we had in mind, because you continue to exist.
So put the afterlife to one side. Is real death, the absolute cessation of existence, something to rationally fear?
Some people over the centuries have said no (most notably Epicurus). Though we all fear death, they have argued that that might not be rational. Arguments include "if there is nothing after death, there is a fortiori nothing to fear"...... "You effectively die every night, in the deep sleep between dreams in which you experience nothing"...... "The fear of death is just an evolutionarily adaptive phobia. We fear it only because we are descended from those who feared it."...... "The time after you exist is no worse than the time before you were born, therefore nothing to fear"...... "Your non-existence, by definition, is not something that will happen to you."...... "Whenever you pay attention, you'll find that you exist."...... "Death is the absence of all sensation. And what we do not sense is nothing to us."...... etc.
Then my friend was like, "if death is no big deal, then murder is not such a grave crime after all."
And I was like, "As a judge I would accept that defense and then order the defendant hanged! He really couldn't complain."
But that leads to an argument for the DP. If death is something bad, then the death penalty matches the crime. And if death is not so bad, then the death penalty matches the crime. And if it's anywhere in-between, then the punishment matches the crime. Kinda like this:
DP for murder
Death is bad.
Death is not so bad.
But the same can't be said for any other punishment (e.g. LWOP). Whether the penalty matches the crime really depends.
LWOP is bad.
LWOP is not so bad.
Death is bad.
Death is not so bad.
So the argument is that we should prefer a punishment that we know matches the crime over one that we don't.
I know not everybody likes this kind of argument, but I thought it might be worth sharing.
Post by whitediamonds on May 6, 2018 14:50:03 GMT -6
It is not death we fear, it is the pain getting there, the pain leaving your child before grown, etc etc. How many of us say when death comes we hope to go in our sleep. We fear the unknown.
I say it is best to leave the afterlife out of it, we have enough people who commit suicide. We have some who think they will have 20 virgins waiting for them, while they took so many innocent with them.
Lets just stick with the sentence should match the crime, & murder is the taking everything we have, nothing left.
Sentences often do not match the crime. We don't rape rapists for example. We don't steal the cars of those who steal cars....
True. Indeed it's a point I've often made.
It's interesting, though, that if we did bruise bruisers, the punishment would fit the crime.
If bruising someone is awful, bruising the bruiser as punishment is correspondingly awful. If bruising someone is bad, but not that bad, then it's not that bad to be sentenced to a bruising for it. If bruising someone barely deserves to be punished, being sentenced to a bruising barely counts as punishment.
My point is that "an eye for an eye" leaves relatively little room for a mistake in proportionality.
The same can't be said for prison sentences, which can be hopelessly out of whack with the crime, if indeed the "crime" deserves to be punished at all.
People always focus on the supposedly vengeful features of the "eye for an eye" philosophy, concentrating on crimes where, if the state reciprocated in kind, the state would appear quite monstrous. They usually ignore the natural eighth amendment style restrictions "eye for an eye" places on harsh sentencing.
For example, nothing stops a society that follows a pure system of prisons and fines from imprisoning homosexuals. Such travesties have been common throughout western so-called liberal societies. But what would have happened under the "eye for an eye" law? Er... nothing. Homosexuality between consenting adults has no victim, so there's no plausible reciprocal punishment.
Similarly, a pure system of prisons and fines permits people to be imprisoned or fined for free speech. In the US, we have had to add constitutional protections to patch up this fault in the system. But in other western nations, where constitutional protections do not apply, this kind of thing goes on. E.g. in Germany they just imprisoned some woman for denying that the holocaust occurred. In recent weeks a guy in Scotland was fined 800 pounds for telling an offensive joke.
What would happen under an "eye for an eye" system? At worst, the thought-criminal would be forced to hark some opinions and jokes they find offensive.
I don't pretend that "eye for an eye" is a perfect system. But I think it has virtues that are frequently overlooked.
What is the purpose of any society having a "code" to deal with crime ? Each state/unit/country gets to choose their own code - thats your actual democratic government in action - dont want the death penalty - get enough people to vote against it - want it to stay on the statutes - get enough people to vote with it ! (for actual reference refer to Brexit)
"if death is no big deal, then murder is not such a grave crime after all."
Your friend's argument is flawed, of course, because murder and death are not quite the same thing. In fact, death is not a thing, while the act of murdering someone is----not to mention the fact that murder is also a form of theft.
Regarding death as a punishment; it's not really a punishment because it is not something that the condemned or anyone else will ever experience. Hence, what you experience during the course of your existence is all you will ever know.
Tracy: Not losing interest,,,just busy with life. :-)
Sept 23, 2016 8:25:16 GMT -6
Potassium_Pixie: I fear what this means for Capital Punishment if most forums are circling the drain.
Sept 24, 2016 23:32:30 GMT -6
fuglyville: With 39, 35 and 28 executions for the last 3 years the DP trend is looking pretty good. If it continues this way, we may actually see the DP come to an end in a few years. Fear not, there's always other things to fight for.
Sept 27, 2016 11:40:11 GMT -6
Potassium_Pixie: Donald Trump is president. I hope he supports the DP and does whatever he can to keep it alive.
Nov 9, 2016 16:25:34 GMT -6
fuglyville: I hope the death penalty system dies peacefully as soon as possible, with or without his consent. The tide is definitely turning against it, but it needs to end - and it should have ended years ago.
Nov 23, 2016 18:08:49 GMT -6
whitediamonds: The DP is used criminally against innocents of society far too long & too many. They suffered death, not by peaceful means or methods. The DP needs as already stated to be kept alive.
Dec 30, 2016 10:58:11 GMT -6
starbux: @potassium_Pixie Hopefully DT will sign the death warrants for several inmates who have been waiting to get their needle
Mar 4, 2017 13:41:58 GMT -6
nykkic: I think I'm still opposed to the DP .. but at the same time I can see why it might be necessary for certain crimes.. I don't have to like it but I've come to respect it
Jun 7, 2017 15:35:38 GMT -6
john - uk: Merry Christmas everyone
Dec 22, 2017 7:17:56 GMT -6
arizonavet: It (the death penalty) has saved many lives of innocent people nykkic.
Apr 15, 2018 15:59:55 GMT -6
donji: If murderers would agree to murder humanly maybe we could work something out! If with malice and forethought you take a life you should forfit your life.
Aug 30, 2018 19:05:34 GMT -6
donji: Did he say the family of mr. trump!
Aug 30, 2018 19:07:34 GMT -6
donji: Saw the whole video i'm assuming the anti dp folks wanted to dramatize,and overstress the poor muderers pain.The only queston should be was the sentence carried out?
Aug 30, 2018 19:13:31 GMT -6