Capital punishment

Essay by maria hallHigh School, 11th grade March 1997

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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.


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.


Christian live, is unconditional. It does not depend on the worthiness or value

of those to whom it...