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Capital Punishment - analyse the views of Ernest van den Haag and Hugo Adam Bedau,

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Introduction

´╗┐Marisol Torres Capital Punishment: Ernest van den Haag and Hugo Adam Bedau As a society we have an established set of rules and norms that are enforced by our justice system which we as a people have deemed as the highest power to determine when these rules and norms are broken and what appropriate punishment should be given. We live in a world filled with diversity. Not only diversity in cultures but diversity with people in terms of character and morals. Society is filled with both good upstanding people but also those people who find it less than necessary to follow any norms or rules society has created but instead find a life in crime. Crimes can range from something minimal such as theft to the most serious which is murder. This introduces us to capital punishment or more commonly termed, the death penalty. Though openly controversial, capital punishment has its share of opponents and supporters. Many philosophers have discussed issues in relation to violence, laws and punishment. Malcolm X is one such philosopher. His beliefs in violence in terms of self defense can relate to the issue of capital punishment. Malcolm X believed that one should defend themselves by all means necessary when it means self defense. He believed in non violence unless one?s life was at risk and needed defending. In such cases self defense should be practiced. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore Haag uses the lives of future innocent victims as the advantage of capital punishment whereas Bedau though agreeing with Haag about the possibility of executing innocent people, identifies the risks as ?social costs? (pg. 367). Bedau proceeds to discuss the economic costs that the death penalty incurs. Cost of housing the prisoner while on death row, cost of the capital trial and of the appeals. Bedau discusses the risk of executing innocent people just as Haag but Bedau finds different aspects of it to elaborate and approaches the matter in terms of costs to society. Haag makes two points in regards to deterrence for which Bedau has an argument he presents. According to Haag, capital punishment deters other criminals from committing murder and per the Ehrlich study 1 execution saves 7 or 8 innocent lives and not executing the murderer is a form of irresponsibility when the only reason is that there is no guarantee that their execution will lengthen or save future innocent victims who would be murdered had the murderer be spared. Bedau argues that capital punishment cannot deter murder but instead it can possibly only prevent it. Bedau draws a distinction between the death penalty as a crime preventive and death penalty as a crime deterrent. Haag does not make a distinction and instead only discusses the death penalty as a crime deterrent. It is only reasonable that the distinction be made. ...read more.

Conclusion

This approach will of course never happen so I will offer a different one. Considering that it is argued that capital punishment is unfairly applied and that an accused murderer?s innocence or guilt is determined based on how much funds they have to afford good counsel and appeals then as a way to eliminate this risk every single person who si accused of murder should have the best counsel available to them regardless of whether they can afford it or not. This will allow every single person to get a fair trial and the possibility of executing someone who is actually innocent will no longer exist. A person will no longer be executed with the possible doubt that they may be innocent but just could not afford to be defended fairly. If someone murderers another human being then they should be punished just as severely, but also until their guilt is proven they should be defended like anyone else, regardless of how much money they have. Innocence and guilt should never have a price tag. Capital punishment is our society?s way of keeping moral boundaries and norms in place. We as a people can have different opinions about the severity of the death penalty but that is all they are, opinions. Whether we agree with the death penalty or oppose it we must learn to recognize other points of views and educate ourselves. Murder is the most severe of crimes and the death penalty is the most severe of punishments. Therefore, each one of us has a choice to decide whether they go hand in hand. ...read more.

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