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Philosophy - Essay Example

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The deterrence argument for legal punishment states punishment is morally justified to the extent that it acts as a measure of prevention to those who are contemplating criminal activity. The aim of deterring crime is to make others think twice about committing the same or a…
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Download file to see previous pages... For instance, in the case of drug possession, long prison sentences are justified by deterrence theory to the extent that such sentences actually do prevent people from using drugs who otherwise would not use those drugs. That last part is important because deterrence is undermined unless it prevents what would happen if the deterrence was not implemented. Deterrence is, by definition, the removal of a cause to prevent an effect. So, considering these long prison sentences for drug possession, it is certainly possible some people are deterred simply because of the potential cost of being caught with illegal substances. In most cases, however, when someone refuses to take illegal drugs, it is not because they were deterred by drug laws and long prison sentences. Rather, it is because of other reasons not related to being caught. Being caught is not necessarily a big concern for most users of illegal drugs anyway. Therefore, it seems it is once again up to the utilitarian to decide whether US drug laws and long prison sentences are justified by their effects (the results of strict controls on drugs) in reality.
2. John Rawls’ so-called end-state (or distributive justice) theory of justice stands in contrast to Robert Nozick’s entitlement (or process) theory of justice. The former proposes that all persons in the “original position” (the state of nature) should agree that all social primary goods, like opportunity and income, are to be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution of any or all these goods is to the advantage of the least favored. For Rawls and the end-state theory, justice is “fairness”, especially when the proposed redistribution would improve social inequality. Nozick’s entitlement theory proposes that a distribution is just if it comes about by ethical acquisition from the state of nature or through fair allocation. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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