A Defense of the Death Penalty
Louis P. Pojman
The death penalty serves as both a deterrent for would be murderers and a fitting punishment for those who intentionally and out of malice take the life of another human being.
It is sometimes argued that the death penalty serves as a form of revenge for the victims of heinous crimes. For those who argue from this stance, revenge is never the proper method for assigning punishment because it is done out of anger and with the intent of inflicting harm upon another human being. Vengeance itself is not the basis for designating the death penalty. Instead retribution is justification enough, although it may be accompanied by feelings of anger and hatred.
Retribution holds that only the guilty and only the guilty should be punished and that punishment should be in proportion to the crime committed. In this theory if one takes the life of another human being he or she loses the right to life and deserves to die. It is human instinct to exact revenge but with restraint we allow the legal system to bestow justice upon those violated by criminal actions. The death penalty serves as a reminder that there are consequences for our actions and if we commit a crime as evil as killing another the consequence will be as dire.
The death penalty is thought by some to serve as a good deterrent of would-be murderers actually following their impulses and taking the lives of innocent people. Empirical data is not conclusive enough the support both the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of the deterrent theory but based upon common sense there can be an argument made for its effectiveness. Many believe that long term prison sentences serve as a better deterrent but through the process of reasoning and the use of common knowledge we can see how the death penalty would serve as a deterrent.
In using the common sense argument to support deterrence we know that (1) things that are feared most will serve as a...