Thesis : In principle a case can be made on moral grounds both supporting
and opposing capital punishment.
Two different cases can be made. One is based on justice and the nature of a
moral community. This leads to a defense of capital punishment. The second
is based on love and the nature of an ideal spiritual community. This leads to
a rejection of capital punishment.
JUSTICE AND THE NATURE OF MORAL COMMUNITY
A central principal of a just society is that every person has an equal right to
'life, liberity, and happiness.' Within that, an arguement for capital
punishment forms along the following lines: some acts are so evil and so
destructive of a community that they void the right of the perpetrator to life.
A community founded on moral principals has specific requirements. The
right to belong to a community is not unconditional. The privilege of living
and pursuing the good life in society is not certain.
The essential reason on
which community is built requires each citizen to honor the rightful claims of
others. The precious live in a moral community must be so highly honored
that those who do not honor the life of others void their own right to
membership. Those who violate the personhood of others, especially if this is
done persistently as a habit must pay the ultimate price. This must be done
for the sake of the community which was violated. We can debate whether
some non-lethal alternative is a suitable substitute for the death penalty. But
the standard of judgment is whether the punishment fits the crime and if it
honors the nature of the moral community.
LOVE AND AN IDEAL SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY
Christian live, is unconditional. It does not depend on the worthiness or value
of those to whom it...