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Arguments Against the Capital Punishment are Weak

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/22/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,792 times Debate No: 32751
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Thank you for reading this debate. I'm a first-timer here, and I am going to argue that popular arguments against the capital punishment are weak and cannot be truly defended. Some popular arguments I shall dismantle include:

1) That the capital punishment results in the death of the innocent. This is true. Even if our judicial system is 99.999999999% accurate (given the improvement in science and forensic studies, I don't think this is far off the truth but let's just assume this really is the number), if everyone on the planet goes to trial, we have 6 innocent lives taken away by the gallows.

But, based on a utilitarian stand, we can and have already accepted the loss of innocent lives for the greater benefit of the rest of society.

Like how capital punishment may result in the loss of innocent lives in some countries like Singapore and Malaysia, the use of fire all over the world would open up the real risk of fire accidents that result in deaths every year - deaths of innocent people. But we do not ban fire, showing how we have implicitly or deliberately evasively accepted the loss of innocent lives for the greater benefit.

2) That human life has an intrinsic intangible value, a certain dignity that we must respect. All these are affections or religious assertions. Can the opposition provide other sources that can be defended logically?

Even if human life has a special X value that cannot be replaced by economic benefits, can't it be replaced by other X values from other human life? For instance, would you rather spend the money keeping people in jail instead of executing them to ostensibly respect human dignity? That money can be spent on healthcare or education for further generation. It can better the lives of many other human beings and maybe even save their lives (such as using the money on cancer research). The number of lives saved would outweigh the loss of innocent lives, wouldn't it?

(And any other arguments the opposition can think of)


I am against Capital punishment, but I am also against the jail system. I believe that we need to abolish capital punishment, and also fix the jail system.

You compared fire with the death penalty, but there is a big difference.
Fire brings a great benefit to the whole world, and if you are going to use fire as an example, you could use anything. Like driving, the benefits are great and you use it at your own risk of dying. But the thing is, these two things are totally different, with fire and driving, the benefits are undeniable. With the death penalty, the benefits are highly questionable.
You said it"s for a greater good, but what IS that greater good? It"s not like the people that would have been sentenced for Capital punishment would be set free into the world, at least not immediately. What harm could they possibly do, besides taking tax payers" money?
If you can save some people from death row by reformation, I think it is worth it, even if it costs me and others.
There aren"t many people who get executed (in first world countries anyway).
If we"re arguing about money, I think there should be a bigger investment in reformation and Jail systems, which can also save lives for the greater good.

Unfortunately with Today"s Jail system, it is more likely they would get life sentence without a chance for redemption.
If Jails were created better and things like jobs were incorporated into them, where you can work off your time, no matter what sentence, and also earn money by manual labour, it would be much better for this type of thing.
I remember there being a great prison in Switzerland which did just this. There were some people who took advantage of the system as a free place to stay, but there we also significantly less crimes and instances where the person committed another crime once released.
I think everyone deserves a second chance and if you give those opportunities to everybody I think there will be a positive outcome. Even if the person is guilty, it doesn't mean they can't be changed, and IF they can't be changed then they may stay in a cell or hospital.

It is true that some innocent people may be mistakenly executed, and you say it is for the greater good (did I say that already)- But even if there is only a small amount of innocent people being wrongly trialed, who"s to say the guilty ones can't be reformed? There are also people with mental disabilities who need help and haven't got it who might be sentenced.

If anything, I say atheism is a reason to abolish capital punishment. If you believe in no afterlife then doesn't that mean every life is precious even more so, and we shouldn"t let someone waste it.

I am tired here so excuse me if I didn"t make much sense and I may have been quite repetitive, or misunderstood some of your points, well, see you in round 2
Debate Round No. 1


Hi, thank you for replying.

I shall start by saying that I will not respond to your being 'against the jail system... and fix the jail system'. My focus is on the controversies surrounding the capital punishment, not reforms on our incarceration institutions. I urge you to stick close to the sole subject matter too. You seem to be okay with the fact that innocent people are prosecuted wrongly, so I'm moving forward from that contention.

Your main issue seems to be the 'questionable' benefits of death penalty and who/what is the 'greater good'.
You said, 'But the thing is, these two things are totally different, with fire and driving, the benefits are undeniable. With the death penalty, the benefits are highly questionable. You said it's for a greater good, but what IS that greater good?'

In your consideration of the benefits of fire, you suggest that as long as I can prove that the benefits of death penalty is comparable to that of the use of fire, I would prove my point that the capital punishment is desirable. Like allowing the use of fire, the retention of death penalty would bring vast social and economic benefits to society. The use of fire helps in cooking, freeing up land for commerce (through deforestation) and for fuel production. All these are economic and social benefits.

This is similar to the death penalty. I do not know why you belittle the 'taking (of) tax payers money'. In Singapore, the cost of keeping an inmate is about SGD100 a day. This includes food, lodging, land use, amenities, healthcare, even educational opportunities. This translates to SGD36,500 a year. Multiplied across the globe, the total cost is more than SGD160 million each year. The actual figure need not be accurate; the important thing is that this amount equates to massive opportunities costs. The money can be better spent on bettering education or healthcare for other citizens, even saving lives for example if used for cancer research or financial aid to the poor. It can also be used to save dwindling economies such as in America or Europe, saving the economies from collapsing and destroying the financial livelihood for numerous families. Why should we spend the money on, instead, keeping convicted murderers, rapists and drug traffickers alive in prison?

From another perspective, if Mr. X killed and raped your son, why should you, through taxation, fund X's accommodation, food and counselling expenses in jail? Would that be fair to you? To push this even further, what if you suffered from an illness and require expensive healthcare. You are now downgrading the healthcare you receive and lowering your survival chances for the murderer of your son.

I have proved that the benefits of the death penalty are not questionable. On both utilitarian or 'just desserts' considerations, the death penalty can be seriously defended.


missteranonymous forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


To add on, you argued that an atheist would see a higher value of human life, and because of that arguments against the capital punishment are not weak.

This is at best an incomplete assertion, not a logical argument.

I look forward to your response to my points from round 2. Thank you.


missteranonymous forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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