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Taking LifeThree Theories on the Ethics of Killing$
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Torbjorn Tannsjo

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190225575

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190225575.001.0001

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Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment

Chapter:
(p.103) Chapter 5 Capital Punishment
Source:
Taking Life
Author(s):

Torbjörn Tännsjö

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190225575.003.0005

Does the extensive use of capital punishment for murder mean fewer homicides and violent crime in general? Has a murderer, by committing his crime, forfeited his own right to life? Is it possible for murderers to compensate their victims? These are some of the key questions tackled in this chapter. Here, as in others, we apply each of our three theories to capital punishment, seeing what role, if any, the aforementioned questions play in each theory. If capital punishment has a superior deterrent effect, it gains support from utilitarianism. Deontology recommends capital punishment in one (retributive) version and condemns it in another (Sanctity-of-Life) version, regardless of its deterrent effects. The moral rights theory does not support capital punishment, but according to the theory, people can contract and adopt capital punishment if they see a point in doing so.

Keywords:   capital punishment, Jonathan Glover, Cass R. Sunstein, Adrian Vermeule, cruel and unusual, retributivism, lex talionis, deterrence

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