Stephen Bright is against the death penalty as a punishment in the United States of America. That is his statement, his belief. Coincidentally he is right in his position. There should be no death penalty. However he is wrong in his arguments. Primarily Bright’s arguments include two major factors. Number one, the ultimate penalty is exacted against those who are too poor to gain effective representation. Number two they are resultantly not powerful enough to avoid the implications of number one. As fine a logical set of points those are, they miss the point.
Upon closer examination the arguments begin to break down under the necessity of too many concessions. Maybe the best way to look at someone’s position is to begin by looking at it in reverse. It could be easily posited that if something is true from one direction, then it had better be true from another direction. This would be a good test. With that in mind, what is the first issue? That the death penalty is exacted against those who are too poor to gain effective representation. If that is true, then it must always be true.
So the word ‘always’ can be added as the litmus test. In other words, the statement now becomes ‘the death penalty is always exacted against those who are too poor to gain effective representation’. Is this true? Even without looking too thoroughly at research it is most likely untrue. That would be a pretty tall hurdle. Not to mention the fact that it is a sort of a stab in the dark, philosophically speaking. There would have to be definitions of what a ‘too poor’ person looks like on a demographic level.
Is too poor a condition of financial status, or is it a condition of being convicted of the death penalty makes one financially poor? For Bright to have his way on this one, then his argument would have to be refined. Here are some examples of what could make it workable The death penalty is exacted against those who are legally impoverished. That at least could be reviewed against government statistics. The distraction here is that there are federal guidelines and there are state guidelines. Then which ones should be used?
And that also becomes troubling in the search for truth. If the guidelines say that one should make more money in New Hampshire instead of Georgia, for example, then what does that say about the quality of a life? That is must occur against a spectrum. Some people must be more valuable than others. This argument just doesn’t work at all. Not to mention the fact that it has an even more serious flaw. Suppose that there was one individual somewhere on death row that was not legally impoverished? Rich man kills popular person and angers jury and is sentenced to death, for example.
Now Bright’s argument would be changed significantly and would have to account for this. Now his position has become ‘the death penalty is always exacted against those who are too poor to gain effective representation except in cases in which that is not actually true’. This is getting bad indeed and I think that Bright is losing momentum. Perhaps his second argument should be thought through as well. To recall that position is that those convicted of the death penalty ‘are resultantly not powerful enough to avoid the implications of number one [that they were too poor to gain effective representation]’.
Now this can be countered directly on its face and is reflective of the difficulty with ordered arguments, i. e. arguments that depend upon a previous argument. The problem is that if the first argument is struck down as either impossible or at least fundamentally improbable, then the deck of cards begins to collapse. That is the case here. The details are all above. To revisit those details it has already been established that there were serious flaws in the original argument. The always of truth is the main obstacle.
If the death penalty were not always exacted against poor people with ineffective representation, then the implication becomes that the persons so convicted may actually not be the poor people that are not powerful enough to avoid the results. Doublespeak begins to creep in, here. It is interesting to observe that the longer the sentence becomes, the less likely it is that every single element of the sentence is actually true in all cases. As with the first argument, the second argument suffers this challenge in two ways.
First, the presence of even one convicted person sentenced to death that was no actually ‘too poor’, using the standards related previously, refutes the position. Not to mention that the presence of anyone on death row that was powerful enough to avoid the problem altogether would likewise cancel out the premise. But then this leads to the second issue, again, just like Bright’s problematic initial foray. Naturally, this dilemma is ‘what does a not powerful person look like demographically’? Is there a standard for this? There had better be because Bright put that into his statement.
Also, are there varying standards as in the ‘poor person’ debacle? It could be supposed that the cart could be put before the horse again, and try to claim that because the person is on death row then they must have been not powerful. But that is a bit facetious. It borders on the absurd. In any event, there is no possible definition that is going to work out argument two, anyway. That only leads to one possible conclusion: Bright’s arguments just don’t hold. Stephen Bright claimed that the death penalty is should not be used. Primarily Bright’s arguments included two major factors.
Number one, the ultimate penalty is exacted against those who are too poor to gain effective representation. Number two they are resultantly not powerful enough to avoid the implications of number one. Unfortunately for Mr. Bright both of his positions have proven only likely to be true in some circumstances or manners. Point two almost can’t even be considered as it depends upon point one to be true, which just didn’t work out. And so his deck of cards fell and his arguments collapsed. Perhaps he should have stuck to rights and wrongs as the basis for truths.
Courtney from Study Moose
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