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NCJ Number: 135001 Find in a Library
Title: Only Argument for Capital Punishment in Principle: A Frank Appraisal
Journal: American Journal of Criminal Law  Volume:18  Issue:3  Dated:(Summer 1991)  Pages:333-353
Author(s): S C Hicks
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 21
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article argues that capital punishment, in principle, is justified because living is an earned right premised upon humane social interactions with others.
Abstract: The morality of capital punishment rests upon the claim that the offender's death is proportionate to the offense, because ultimately death is no less sacred than life, and life is worth no more than death; they are both abstractions. It is not life, but living, that we value and use as a measure by which to judge all things; therefore, there can be no such thing as an absolute right to life. The value of life is the quality of the life lived and the works achieved. The worth of life is not inherent in breathing and biological existence, but in the social being who interacts with others and enriches what is experienced in the course of biological existence. It is the worth of our living our life's work that is evaluated by criminal justice when we break the law, and there is nothing sacred about "life" such that certain offenses can be said not to deserve its taking, because each person is responsible to the social whole for living. We identify our humanity and belonging through the example we each make of the worth of living a life. If by our example we deny the worth of that, then in principle we have risked our right to go on living. Society may justifiably take biological life on the basis of the retributive effects of an act proportionately to the inhumanity of that act. The author poses and answers counter-arguments for his principle.
Main Term(s): Capital punishment
Index Term(s): Cruel and unusual punishment
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