As an intellectual game, two male college students, ages 18 and 19, attempt to commit the “perfect crime” by kidnapping a young boy and demanding ransom from his parents. They receive the ransom money but kill the boy anyway. Later, they are caught, tried and convicted of murder and kidnapping with intent to do bodily harm. Their defense attorney, a brilliant lawyer, successfully argues against the death penalty and both men are sent to prison for life.
After about five years, one of the men is killed in a fight, but the other completes his college education while still in prison and teaches other convicts English. He also volunteers for medical experiments, allowing himself to be injected with malaria germs in order to test new drugs. A model prisoner, he causes no trouble throughout his entire prison term. After about 30 years, he is paroled, whereupon he goes to a different country and continues to teach English. Two years later he dies of natural causes. Should this man have been subjected to capital punishment? Why or why not Theories that will be applied:
1. Divine Command Theory
2. Virtue Ethics
Capital punishment has been and will always be a widely debated topic. The biggest question that surrounds capital punishment would be is it morally right or is it morally wrong? There are many arguments for and against capital punishment. Is a capital punishment really a deterent as some would say? I will apply and test three theories to the case mentioned above to see if capital punishment is the most appropriate solution or not. First I will examine the divine command theory and see how it applies to the case mentioned above. In all fairness I must say that in the case mentioned above the divine command theory is strongly contradicting itself. How is that possible? Well let us start by saying that the divine command theory uses Gods commandments to measure whether something is morally right or wrong. How is that contradicting? Speaking in the case of most major religions God asks us to punish those who commit intentional murder by death.
At the same time God asks us to be forgiving. Even with this major contradiction we can safely say that the divine command theory would revoke the capital punishment in the case mentioned above. Such a controversial conclusion can be easily proved. We can also safely say that forgiveness outweighs punishment in the eyes of God. We all know that God is the most forgiving and the most merciful. How do we know that? Lets take any human being as an example. There is no doubt that there is no human being in the world without sin. If God really preferred to punish us rather than forgive us for every sin we make then life would be a little different. Instead God waits for us and gives us a chance to repent so he can forgive us. Therefore in the case above it is clear for us all to see that the individual mentioned in the case above has committed to repentance and most importantly he is not the same man who entered the first time into prison.
In conclusion the divine command theory would demand us to forgive the man and give him a chance after all that time he served in prison Now we come to the theory of virtue ethics. Without any argument or hesitation we can say that virtue ethics rejects capital punishment in all of its forms. Virtue ethics instead demands for a moderate solution. It considers capital punishment to be cruel and counter productive. Virtue ethics works towards making someone a better person and reinstate in them true and honorable virtues. How are you going to that if someone is dead? Some might say that there is a long time before a death sentence is carried out and there is enough time for that person to change and try to be a better person. Well that is definitely not the case here. That is similar to saying to a student we are going to let you in to college but when you are done we are not going to give you a college degree.
You are telling him that he can work hard but he cannot harvest his fruit. No Matter how good we may try to make it sound it is extremely unreasonable to expect someone who is sentenced to death to commit to change without giving them some sort of hope. On the other hand when there is a little hope, a little light at the end of the tunnel, then we can say that we have done our part in the eyes of the virtue ethicist. Last but not least we come to utilitarianism. First we must understand utilitarian’s argue for the best possible outcome or the solution that would promote the greatest happiness and least suffering. In the scenario above utilitarian’s would also reject the death sentence. We can simply start off by asking how do two deaths or three deaths create more happiness? It is just unreasonable. There are other ways of punishment one can use for the crime committed above other than capital punishment that are greater promoters than the death sentence would ever be.
To promote the greatest happiness in the scenario above is to give the inmate a chance to reform and repent and have a good influence or impact on society. In the balance that will always outweigh capital punishment. In my opinion, capital punishment is the best possible outcome for the scenario mentioned above. First let me start by saying that the punishment should fit the crime. The person mentioned above committed the most extreme crime known to man and therefore deserves a punishment equal in magnitude.
Second I will without hesitation state that everyone fears death. Being so the case then capital punishment would be the best deterrent and preventative of crime man can employ. Then I will go on to mention that by committing intentional murder one has stepped outside the line that divides us from animals, there for no longer deserves to live among us. Then let us examine the case of the life sentence. It is very evident that one who is sentenced to life in prison has nothing to loose and is more likely to commit more crimes even inside prison. Summarizing all this up I stand by position as being a advocate for capital punishment in the case mentioned above and any other there is to come.
Courtney from Study Moose
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