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  1. Capital Punishment (Or: Why Death is the 'Ultimate' Punishment).Michael Cholbi - forthcoming - In Jesper Ryberg (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Punishment Theory and Philosophy.
    Both proponents and opponents of capital punishment largely agree that death is the most severe punishment that societies should consider imposing on offenders. This chapter considers how (if at all) this ‘Ultimate Thesis’ can be vindicated. Appeals to the irrevocability of death, the badness of being executed, the badness of death, or the harsh condemnation societies express by sentencing offenders to death do not succeed in vindicating this Thesis, and in particular, fail to show that capital punishment is more severe (...)
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  2. A Reconciliation Theory of State Punishment: An Alternative to Protection and Retribution.Thaddeus Metz - 2022 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 91:119-139.
    I propose a theory of punishment that is unfamiliar in the West, according to which the state normally ought to have offenders reform their characters and compensate their victims in ways the offenders find burdensome, thereby disavowing the crime and tending to foster improved relationships between offenders, their victims, and the broader society. I begin by indicating how this theory draws on under-appreciated ideas about reconciliation from the Global South, and especially sub-Saharan Africa, and is distinct from the protection and (...)
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  3. How Much Punishment Is Deserved? Two Alternatives to Proportionality.Thaddeus Metz & Mika’il Metz - 2022 - Philosophies 7 (2):1-13.
    When it comes to the question of how much the state ought to punish a given offender, the standard understanding of the desert theory for centuries has been that it should give him a penalty proportionate to his offense, that is, an amount of punishment that fits the severity of his crime. In this article, part of a special issue on the geometry of desert, we maintain that a desert theorist is not conceptually or otherwise required to hold a proportionality (...)
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  4. Can Capital Punishment Survive If Black Lives Matter?Michael Cholbi & Alex Madva - 2021 - In Michael Cholbi, Brandon Hogan, Alex Madva & Benjamin Yost (eds.), The Movement for Black Lives: Philosophical Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.
    Drawing upon empirical studies of racial discrimination dating back to the 1940’s, the Movement for Black Lives platform calls for the abolition of capital punishment. Our purpose here is to defend the Movement’s call for death penalty abolition in terms congruent with its claim that the death penalty in the U.S. is a “racist practice” that “devalues Black lives.” We first sketch the jurisprudential history of race and capital punishment in the U.S., wherein courts have occasionally expressed worries about racial (...)
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  5. Multilateral Retributivism: Justifying Change.Richard R. Eva - 2020 - Stance 8 (1):65-70.
    In this paper I argue for a theory of punishment I call Multilateral Retributivism. Typically retributive notions of justice are unilateral: focused on one person’s desert. I argue that our notions of desert are multilateral: multiple people are owed when a moral crime is committed. I argue that the purpose of punishment is communication with the end-goal of reconciling the offender to society. This leads me to conclude that the death penalty and life without parole are unjustified because they necessarily (...)
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  6. Taking Deterrence Seriously: The Wide-Scope Deterrence Theory of Punishment.Lee Hsin-wen - 2017 - Criminal Justice Ethics 36 (1):2-24.
    A deterrence theory of punishment holds that the institution of criminal punishment is morally justified because it serves to deter crime. Because the fear of external sanction is an important incentive in crime deterrence, the deterrence theory is often associated with the idea of severe, disproportionate punishment. An objection to this theory holds that hope of escape renders even the severest punishment inapt and irrelevant. -/- This article revisits the concept of deterrence and defend a more plausible deterrence theory of (...)
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  7. Contractualism and the Death Penalty.Li Hon Lam - 2017 - Criminal Justice Ethics 36 (2):152-182.
    It is a truism that there are erroneous convictions in criminal trials. Recent legal findings show that 3.3% to 5%of all convictions in capital rape-murder cases in the U.S. in the 1980s were erroneous convictions. Given this fact, what normative conclusions can be drawn? First, the article argues that a moderately revised version of Scanlon’ s contractualism offers an attractive moral vision that is different from utilitarianism or other consequentialist theories, or from purely deontological theories. It then brings this version (...)
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  8. African Values and Capital Punishment.Thaddeus Metz - 2017 - In Gerard Walmsley (ed.), African Philosophy and the Future of Africa. Council for Research in Values and Philosophy. pp. 83-90.
    What is the strongest argument grounded in African values, i.e., those salient among indigenous peoples below the Sahara desert, for abolishing capital punishment? I defend a particular answer to this question, one that invokes an under-theorized conception of human dignity. Roughly, I maintain that the death penalty is nearly always morally unjustified, and should therefore be abolished, because it degrades people’s special capacity for communal relationships. To defend this claim, I proceed by clarifying what I aim to achieve in this (...)
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  9. Belief and Death: Capital Punishment and the Competence-for-Execution Requirement.David M. Adams - 2016 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 10 (1):17-30.
    A curious and comparatively neglected element of death penalty jurisprudence in America is my target in this paper. That element concerns the circumstances under which severely mentally disabled persons, incarcerated on death row, may have their sentences carried out. Those circumstances are expressed in a part of the law which turns out to be indefensible. This legal doctrine—competence-for-execution —holds that a condemned, death-row inmate may not be killed if, at the time of his scheduled execution, he lacks an awareness of (...)
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  10. “Such is Life”: Euthanasia and Capital Punishment in Australia: Consistency or Contradiction?Quinlan Michael - 2016 - Solidarity: The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Secular Ethics 6 (1):Article 6.
    Lawful euthanasia involves State endorsed termination of human life. Apart from a period of less than 9 months, in the Northern Territory, euthanasia has been illegal in Australia. Many of Australia’s parliaments have regularly considered introducing the practice and they continue to do so. In this context, this paper considers another type of State endorsed termination of human life: capital punishment. These took place in Australia from 1788 to 1967. The practice was abolished nationwide by 1985 and the Commonwealth passed (...)
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  11. U.S. Racism and Derrida’s Theologico-Political Sovereignty.Geoffrey Adelsberg - 2015 - In Lisa Guenther, Geoffrey Adelsberg & Scott Zeman (eds.), Death and Other Penalties: Philosophy in a Time of Mass Incarceration. Bronx, NY: Fordham Up. pp. 83-94.
    This essay draws on the work of Jacques Derrida and Angela Y. Davis towards a philosophical resistance to the death penalty in the U.S. I find promise in Derrida’s claim that resistance to the death penalty ought to contest a political structure that founds itself on having the power to decide life and death, but I move beyond Derrida’s desire to consider the abolition of the death penalty without engaging with the particular histories and geographies of European colonialism. I offer (...)
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  12. Kramer’s Purgative Rationale for Capital Punishment: A Critique.John Danaher - 2015 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 9 (2):225-244.
    Matthew Kramer has recently defended a novel justification for the death penalty, something he calls the purgative rationale. According to this rationale, the death penalty can be justifiably implemented if it is necessary in order to purge defilingly evil offenders from a moral community. Kramer claims that this rationale overcomes the problems associated with traditional rationales for the death penalty. Although Kramer is to be commended for carving out a novel niche in a well-worn dialectical space, I argue that his (...)
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  13. Does Communicative Retributivism Necessarily Negate Capital Punishment?Jimmy Chia-Shin Hsu - 2015 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 9 (4):603-617.
    Does communicative retributivism necessarily negate capital punishment? My answer is no. I argue that there is a place, though a very limited and unsettled one, for capital punishment within the theoretical vision of communicative retributivism. The death penalty, when reserved for extravagantly evil murderers for the most heinous crimes, is justifiable by communicative retributive ideals. I argue that punishment as censure is a response to the preceding message sent by the offender through his criminal act. The gravity of punishment should (...)
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  14. The Structure of Death Penalty Arguments.Matt Stichter - 2014 - Res Publica 20 (2):129-143.
    In death penalty debates, advocates on both sides have advanced a staggering number of arguments to defend their positions. Many of those arguments fail to support retaining or abolishing the death penalty, and often this is due to advocates pursuing a line of reasoning where the conclusion, even if correctly established, will not ultimately prove decisive. Many of these issues are also interconnected and shouldn’t be treated separately. The goal of this paper is to provide some clarity about which specific (...)
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  15. Justiça e Punição na Filosofia do Direito de Hegel.Thadeu Weber & Ítalo da Silva Alves - 2014 - Direitos Fundamentais and Justiça 28:153-164.
    In this paper, we attempt to reconstruct Hegel’s theory of punishment through its development on the levels of abstract right and civil society, incorporating to the latter the concepts of contingency and arbitrariness. We demonstrate how the unjust is anulled and how right is restored under a retributive foundation of the penalty. We approach the issue of the death penalty and conclude that a retibutivist argument is insufficient to serve as its foundation.
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  16. The Irrevocability of Capital Punishment.Benjamin S. Yost - 2011 - Journal of Social Philosophy 42 (3):321-340.
    One of the many arguments against capital punishment is that execution is irrevocable. At its most simple, the argument has three premises. First, legal institutions should abolish penalties that do not admit correction of error, unless there are no alternative penalties. Second, irrevocable penalties are those that do not admit of correction. Third, execution is irrevocable. It follows that capital punishment should be abolished. This paper argues for the third premise. One might think that the truth of this premise is (...)
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  17. Responsibility and Revision: A Levinasian Argument for the Abolition of Capital Punishment.Benjamin S. Yost - 2011 - Continental Philosophy Review 44 (1):41-64.
    Most readers believe that it is difficult, verging on the impossible, to extract concrete prescriptions from the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas. Although this view is largely correct, Levinas’ philosophy can, with some assistance, generate specific duties on the part of legal actors. In this paper, I argue that the fundamental premises of Levinas’ theory of justice can be used to construct a prohibition against capital punishment. After analyzing Levinas’ concepts of justice, responsibility, and interruption, I turn toward his scattered remarks (...)
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  18. Kant's Justification of the Death Penalty Reconsidered.Benjamin S. Yost - 2010 - Kantian Review 15 (2):1-27.
    This paper argues that Immanuel Kant’s practical philosophy contains a coherent, albeit implicit, defense of the legitimacy of capital punishment, one that refutes the most important objections leveled against it. I first show that Kant is consistent in his application of the ius talionis. I then explain how Kant can respond to the claim that death penalty violates the inviolable right to life. To address the most significant objection – the claim that execution violates human dignity – I argue that (...)
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  19. Child Rape, Moral Outrage, and the Death Penalty.Susan A. Bandes - 2008 - Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy 103.
    In *Engaging Capital Emotions,* Douglas Berman and Stephanos Bibas argue that emotion is central to understanding and evaluating the death penalty, and that the emotional case for the death penalty for child rape may be even stronger than for adult murder. Both the Berman and Bibas article and the subsequent Supreme Court decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana (striking down the death penalty for child rape) raise difficult questions about how to measure the heinousness of crimes other than murder, and about (...)
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  20. Consequentialism and the Death Penalty.Dominic J. Wilkinson & Thomas Douglas - 2008 - American Journal of Bioethics 8 (10):56-58.
    Comment on "The ethical 'elephant' in the death penalty 'room'". Arguments in defense of the death penalty typically fall into one of two groups. Consequentialist arguments point out beneficial aspects of capital punishment, normally focusing on deterrence, while non-consequentialist arguments seek to justify execution independently of its effects, for example, by appealing to the concept of retribution. Michael Keane's target article "The ethical 'elephant' in the death penalty 'room'" should, we believe, be read as an interesting new consequentialist defense of (...)
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  21. Rule of Law Abolitionism.Benjamin S. Yost - 2008 - Studies in Law, Politics, and Society.
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  22. The Rights of the Guilty: Punishment and Political Legitimacy.Corey Brettschneider - 2007 - Political Theory 35 (2):175-199.
    In this essay I develop and defend a theory of state punishment within a wider conception of political legitimacy. While many moral theories of punishment focus on what is deserved by criminals, I theorize punishment within the specific context of the state's relationship to its citizens. Central to my account is Rawls's “liberal principle of legitimacy,” which requires that all state coercion be justifiable to all citizens. I extend this idea to the justification of political coercion to criminals qua citizens. (...)
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  23. Kant on Capital Punishment and Suicide.Attila Ataner - 2006 - Kant Studien 97 (4):452-482.
    From a juridical standpoint, Kant ardently upholds the state's right to impose the death penalty in accordance with the law of retribution. At the same time, from an ethical standpoint, Kant maintains a strict proscription against suicide. The author proposes that this latter position is inconsistent with and undercuts the former. However, Kant's division between external (juridical) and internal (moral) lawgiving is an obstacle to any argument against Kant's endorsement of capital punishment based on his own disapprobation of suicide. Nevertheless, (...)
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  24. Race, Capital Punishment, and the Cost of Murder.M. Cholbi - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (2):255-282.
    Numerous studies indicate that racial minorities are both more likely to be executed for murder and that those who murder them are less likely to be executed than if they murder whites. Death penalty opponents have long attempted to use these studies to argue for a moratorium on capital punishment. Whatever the merits of such arguments, they overlook the fact that such discrimination alters the costs of murder; racial discrimination imposes higher costs on minorities for murdering through tougher sentences, and (...)
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  25. Cruelty, Competency, and Contemporary Abolitionism.Michael Cholbi - 2005 - In A. Sarat (ed.), Studies in Law, Politics, and Society. pp. 123-140.
    After establishing that the requirement that those criminals who stand for execution be mentally competent can be given a recognizably retributivist rationale, I suggest that not only it is difficult to show that executing the incompetent is more cruel than executing the competent, but that opposing the execution of the incompetent fits ill with the recent abolitionist efforts on procedural concerns. I then propose two avenues by which abolitionists could incorporate such opposition into their efforts.
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  26. Regulating Police Use of Deadly Force.Roger Wertheimer - 1982 - In N. Bowie & F. Elliston (eds.), Ethics, Public Policy and Criminal Justice. Oelgeschalger, Gunn & Hain. pp. 93--109.
    What should be a police department's policies and regulations on the use of deadly force? What is the relevance for this of the state law on capital punishment?
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