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Capital punishment - Essay Example

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Instructor Date Capital Punishment Steiker Carol and Sustein Cass together with Vermeule Adrian in their articles pursue related but very opposite points of view regarding capital punishment. Sustein and Vermeule contend that since there is considerable evidence from recent empirical studies that suggest the association of capital punishment and deterrence, the validity of these findings should lead consequentialists and deontologists to the conclusion that capital punishment is both morally permissible and morally required…
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Capital punishment
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Download file to see previous pages However, the debate concerning capital punishment according to Sustein and Vermeule is merely centered on an unquestioned assumption that acts are morally different from omissions in the eye of the government, and the failure to question this assumption is a fundamental moral error. In this case, they argue that “an indefensible form of the act or omission distinction is important to some of the leading objections to capital punishment” (Sustein and Vermeule 705). Therefore, defenders of capital punishment have failed to notice the logical conclusion of their theory that capital punishment is in fact morally obligatory and not just permissible, by making the same distinction. To this end, Sustein and Vermeule suggest that on the strength of certain empirical assumptions, capital punishment may not only be permissible, but also it may be a moral requirement to discourage the taking of innocent lives, rather than for punitive reasons. Steiker critiques Cass Sunstain and Adrian Vermeule’s argument that establishment of the validity of recent empirical studies that have associated capital punishment with a substantial deterrent effect should lead consequentialists and deontologists to conclude that capital punishment is not only morally permissible, but also morally required. Steiker (751) contends that “while the empirical evidences suggesting associations between capital punishment and considerable levels of deterrence are highly suspect, acknowledging that the government has special moral duties does not render inadequately deterred private murders the moral equivalent of government executions.” In this case, Steiker argues that executions constitute not only a purposeful moral wrong, but also a distinctive sort of injustice and acceptance of ‘threshold’ deontology does not call for a commitment to capital punishment, the proven substantial deterrence notwithstanding. In addition, Steiker suggests that Sustein and Vermeule imposes the acceptance of brutal or disproportionate punishments, and urges that not even consequentialists should be convinced with the argument that capital punishment is morally required (Steiker 786). The two articles disagree on the issue that capital punishment is morally required; whereas Sustein and Vermeule claim that capital punishment is not only permissible but also morally required, particularly give the proven empirical evidence between capital punishment and deterrence, Steiker firmly refutes their conclusion. Steiker faults Sustein and Vermeule because their conclusion automatically sanctions the acceptance of brutal and disproportionate punishments. This is because according to Steiker, capital punishment is not morally required because it is both a moral wrong and an injustice. The disagreement between Sustein and Vermeule, and Steiker is both sociological and legal in nature, particularly because whereas the former content that the government has the moral obligation of deterring the taking of innocent lives, the latter contend that capital punishment is morally required wrong and unjustifiable. Whereas Steiker arrives at his conclusion by critiquing and countering Sustein and Verme ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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