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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Capital punishment

I just heard another one of those arguments against capital punishment that goes like this:  "If we are really against killing, then you have to be against capital punishment because it is a kind of killing."

It is fine with me to abolish capital punishment, but this argument is so pitiful.

1.  When we make murder illegal (and punishable at all) we are not opposing all killing, only the kind that qualifies as murder. 

To say all killing is equivalent is as foolish as saying all sex is equivalent.

2.  If X imprisons someone and is sentenced to prison himself, what do those who use the argument above say about that?  Do they say:  "If we are really against imprisonment, then you have to be against sending X to prison, too."

It is ironic that they are inconsistent about applying their consistency argument.


  1. I agree that this is a false argument.
    I am against capital punishment myself: (a) The justice system is too coarse; it is much too common for people to be convicted of crimes of which they are innocent. This is true of capital crimes as well. For me, one innocent person being put to death nullifies the whole system. (b) Justice is different for the person who can afford a really good lawyer than it is for the average person.

    I was in a discussion with someone who is pro-capital punishment was trying to convince me to switch. His argument went: If someone were trying to kill you and you had a chance to shoot them before they could shoot you, would you do it. For him, my answer of "Yes" was inconsistent with being against capital punishment.

    1. He makes no distinction between capital punishment and killing in self defense. One wonders if he believes that manslaughter should be punishable by death.
      I find your sentence construct very interesting: "For him, my answer of "Yes" was inconsistent with being against capital punishment." Do you consider "Inconsistency" to be a matter of individual "orientation" and not subject to judgment? Or was it a way of saying that it was his opinion.

    2. By that I just meant that he did not believe that I could hold both opinions at the same time: would kill in self-defense and also be against capital punishment.

    3. I accidentally posted as pi, although I am emptyset. :-)

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