Contemporary Moral Issues
November 30 2005
According to the Encyclopedia capital punishment, also referred to as the Death
Penalty is the judicially ordered execution of a prisoner as a punishment for a serious crime often called a capital offence or a capital offence or a capital crime. The death penalty is a form of punishment. Philosophers discuss punishment in terms of five elements. For something to be punished, it must involve pain or some other consequence normally considered unpleasant, it must be administered for a offense against a law or rules it must be imposed by someone who has been judged guilty of an offense, it must be imposed by someone other than the offender and lastly punishment must be imposed by rightful authority (Applying Ethics p.g265). The applied ethics issue of capital punishment involves determining whether the execution of criminals is ever justified, and, if so under what circumstances it is permissible.
Philosophical defenses of capital punishment typically draw from more general discussions of punishment. The issue of corrective justice in legal philosophy distinguishes between two principal theories of punishment: utilitarian and retributive ( http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/c/capitalp.htm).
Capital punishment in the United States is officially sanctioned by 38 of the 50 states, as well as by the federal government. The overwhelming majority of executions are performed by the states; the federal government maintains the right to use capital punishment (also known as the death penalty) but does so infrequently. Each state practicing capital punishment has different laws regarding its methods, age limits, and crimes which qualify.
The death penalty has been in effect for a very long time, since the early medieval times. According to the encyclopedia in medieval Europe, the method the method of execution would depend on the social class of the...