April+24+-+26 - Current Moral Problems Lecture April 24 26...

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Current Moral Problems Lecture April 24 - 26 A Deterrence Defense of the Death Penalty Louis Pojman: “Deterrence and the Death Penalty” Two Arguments for the Death Penalty Pojman supports the death penalty on deterrence grounds, but he concedes that there is no conclusive scientific evidence to demonstrate that it is a better deterrent than any prison sentence (e.g., life without parole). Nevertheless, he presents two deterrence-based arguments for the death penalty: The argument from common sense The best bet argument The Argument From Common Sense 1. What people (including potential criminals) fear more will have a greater deterrent effect on them. 2. People (including potential criminals) fear death more than they do any other humane punishment. 3. The death penalty is a humane punishment. 4. Therefore, people (including potential criminals) will be deterred more by the death penalty than by any other humane punishment. Commonsense and Anecdotal Evidence for Premises 1 and 2 “[T]hose who are condemned to death do everything in their power to get their sentences postponed or reduced to long-term prison sentences, in a way lifers do not...” (SE, p.141) A “professional burglar” reported never carrying a gun because of the threat of capital punishment. Some of Pojman’s friends from his youth in Cicero, Illinois pursued lives of crime, but deliberately “stopped short of killing in the act of robbery” at a time when they would stand a “reasonable chance of being electrocuted” if they were convicted of murder (SE, p. 142). The “Best Bet” Argument Since there is no conclusive evidence with respect to whether the death penalty is a better deterrent that any prison sentence, including life imprisonment, any decision with respect to the death penalty is a gamble between two choices. Choice #1: We implement the death penalty for murder. Choice #2: We do not implement the death penalty for murder.
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