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essay_1_sample - Busse 1 Joshua Busse Professor Gideon...

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Busse, Joshua Busse Professor Gideon Yaffe Philosophy 140 Take Home Exam #1 10/08/07 Philosophy Take Home Exam #1 The landmark decision made during the Furman v. Georgia case ruled that the death penalty was both cruel and unusual due to the arbitrariness of its imposition at that time. In the following years, lawmakers changed the methods of handling capital punishment cases such that the Supreme Court deemed the death penalty acceptable once again. Philosophical arguments regarding the permissibility of the death penalty are numerous, though the views of these philosophers vary widely. One staunch supporter of the Death Penalty throughout all these changes has been a man named Ernest van den Haag. One of his critics is a man by the name of Stephen Nathanson. Both philosophers use retributive arguments in their cases for and against the death penalty, which focus on moral justification based on desert. In the following paragraphs I will discuss the argument that van den Haag is responding to, his method of response, as well as Nathanson’s response to van den Haag. Although the argument that van den Haag is responding to was touched upon lightly in the introduction, we will now take the time to pursue it in greater depth. In suspending the death penalty, the Supreme Court decided that because the final decision to execute was not completely objective that the death penalty could no longer be justly imposed. They decided that indeed, the death penalty was a violation of both the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. In other words, because irrelevant factors such as race and wealth may have played a role in the decisions to exact capital punishment, such punishment was deemed both cruel, unusual, and 1
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Busse, unequally administered. The process leading up to the imposition the death penalty had
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