April+17+-+19 - Current Moral Problems Lecture April 17 -...

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Current Moral Problems Lecture April 17 - 19 The Death Penalty Introduction Is the Death Penalty Ethically Justified in Some Cases? A Retributivist Defense of the Death Penalty Igor Primoratz: “A Life for a Life” Primoratz Defends Capital Punishment Against 6 Objections A right to life objection A contradiction objection Two “lack of proportionality” objections An unpreventable error objection A bias and prejudice objection The Right to Life Objection The Objection Capital punishment is ethically wrong because it violates the right to life of the person who is executed. Primoratz’s Response Rights generally, and the right to life in particular, are not absolute. Recognized exceptions: Killing in self-defense and a just war Primoratz’s reciprocity analysis of rights: I have a right to life or property only if I recognize that others also have these rights. Ergo: “If I am a murderer, I have no right to live” (SE, p. 127). Analysis of Primoratz’s Response Is the right to life not absolute? Is there a problem with the reciprocity analysis of rights? What about individuals who lack a capacity to recognize rights? If I steal a DVD, do I no longer have a right to my DVDs, computer, car, etc.? Is the right to life unconditional (Nathanson)? The Contradiction Objection The Objection A legal system that includes capital punishment is contradictory. 1
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Whereas the government prohibits murder, it commits murder when it executes convicted criminals. Primoratz’s Response This criticism begs the question. It assumes that when the government executes a convicted criminal, it is “murder” or unjustified killing . But the question under consideration is whether the death penalty is justified or unjustified killing. Analysis of Primoratz’s Response Does the objection beg the question? Does it assume that capital punishment is
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course PHIL 130 taught by Professor Ernanimaghalhaes during the Fall '08 term at WVU.

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April+17+-+19 - Current Moral Problems Lecture April 17 -...

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