The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

Is State Execution murder?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/13/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 976 times Debate No: 35569
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)




The execution of a criminal is murder.

It is premeditated, the victim is selected and unable to defend him or herself, and despite society agreeing to the murder, it is murder nonetheless.

First, let's be clear that I am not defining murder as "illegal killing according to state laws" since this is arbitrary.

Murder must mean, if it means anything, the killing of a person who need not be killed, but is still killed with intent.

Yes, this means people killed in war as "collateral damage" is murder.

This is not a legal argument and the legal argument will gain no purchase here since legalities are subject to the State.

So, is execution murder?


It is the willful and premeditated killing of a victim who, regardless of his or her actions, is unable to defend themselves.

The philosophical understanding of murder is (loosely) the wrongful premeditated killing of someone who need not be killed.

(I will accept there are exceptions, but we can address these on a case to case basis).

This means State sponsored execution is, philosophically, murder.
And, as murder it is wrong.

State execution is murder in the most philosophical, and therefore, vile way.


My opponent muts be a very deep thinker indeed. He has come up with an interesting, and rather thought-provoking, idea of murder. He claims that state executions are murder.

However, I aim to prove him wrong.

His explanation may seem airtight at first. If we were to leave out the fact that the state condones executions, then it would be murder.

He definies murder as "the killing of a person who need not be killed, but is still killed with intent".

The main reason why state executions are, in fact, still not to be considered murder (under this definition) is because criminals who recieve the death sentence have lost their status as "someone who need not be killed".

As soon as a criminal recieves the order for execution, his right to life is forfeit.

He was fully aware of the law. He committed a crime against that law. The law's punishment comes into effect. If the punishment states he must be killed, then he must be killed.

Therefore, state executions are not murder.

Thank you. Back to you, Pro.
Debate Round No. 1


I appreciate Con taking the time to chew on this.

In some countries it is legal to kill ones wife for cheating. In others this would be murder. We can see the State is not the optimal source to define murder, particularly when it comes to, what is universally deemed, an inalienable Right. We see that philosophically, there are classes in which different manners of killing fall. Self-defense, accidental, during war, premeditated, etc.

Con responds by saying the State can make the laws, but this is no different than saying it is right because the State says so. Is it right that a man can kill his cheating spouse?

Under the philosophical class of "killing a person who provides no further threat", or some similar class, once the State has removed the threat from society, there is nothing more the State is required to do, morally or actually.

Killing the, now, helpless victim is a violation of an intrinsic law of Life. True, he broke the law, but the law was determined arbitrarily.


Thank you to Pro for his speedy response.

If we take away the state's right to, through fair trial, convict someone of a heinous crime (and accordingly, provide a necessity for death), then we allow all killings to be labelled murder.

Self-defence, war, and legal retribution are the three instances where an intentional killing is justified.

States that abuse the right to define murder can be overthrown or corrected by their people or neighboring states. All governments must eventually answer to their citizens. This is not what we're arguing.

Anyone who commits a crime that the state considers worthy of legal retribution through death now bears the need to die. War criminals, enemy combatants, home intruders, and the like all can both not bear "immediate threat" and still posess the "need to die".

Criminals convicted of capital offenses are killed because of their danger to society, and a warning to those entertaining thoughts of the same course of action.

Their deaths are justified.
Debate Round No. 2


ooberman forfeited this round.


Forfeit :/ a shame.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by JustinAMoffatt 5 years ago
Why thank you :) that's very kind of you
Posted by Donjaundebater1212 5 years ago
Nailed it justin
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by donald.keller 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Between the two, I'd say Justin put up a better fight, I see the Pro agrees with me by R3.
Vote Placed by GOP 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF