The Instigator
JustCallMeTarzan
Pro (for)
Losing
43 Points
The Contender
JBlake
Con (against)
Winning
55 Points

On the Death Penalty

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/2/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 8,414 times Debate No: 6122
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (17)
Votes (17)

 

JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

I contend that the death penalty is a just punishment for certain types of crimes. The reasoning for this is rooted in basic positive AND negative rights - namely the right to life, the right to defend oneself, and the right to redress of grievances for harm to oneself or one's companions.

I don't think anyone contests the notion that there is a basic right to live. In order to exercise this right, we must have a right to defend that life, either by incapacitation or fatality. Furthermore, grounded in this, we must also have the right to strike back when harmed. It makes little sense to state that the right to strike back is limited to a lesser extent than we were harmed.

In social contract theory, when one violates the rights of another, he negates what rights he DID have while in the contract and removes himself from those rights. However, he is still subject to the judgment and laws of the contract. Thus, society has a defensive right to exact the death penalty on those who would violate the rights of members of the society.

My opponent will no doubt argue that there are various problems with the system by which capital punishment is enforced in this country. Things like convicting an innocent man or the cost of keeping an inmate alive on death row will crop up. However, I remind the reader that these are problems with the SYSTEM, not the CONCEPT.

An ideal method of enforcing these punishments would be something like:

Judge: "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, have you reached a Verdict?"
Jury: "We have, Your Honor. We find the defendant guilty of premeditated murder and sexual assault with the death penalty approved."
Judge: "Very well. Baliff?"
Baliff: *Pulls out his pistol and shoots the defendant*
Judge: "Case closed."

Perhaps a bit crude, but certainly effective, unless you have the wrong person. This argues for better standards in capital punishment cases, not the restriction of capital punishment.

I'm going to close this brief opening round with the notion that I believe that murderers, rapists, and child molesters, and ESPECIALLY anyone who combines the three is deserving of the death penalty, and that this is an acceptable solution that presents the least burden to society.

AFFIRMED.
JBlake

Con

I will begin by thanking the eloquent young Tarzan for providing the opportunity to debate this oft-debated issue.

My young opponent grounds his argument on the claim that humans have the basic rights of life, defense, and the right to redress of grievances for harm to one's self or one's companions. For now I will not address the validity of these claims.

His second premise is that, based on the "social contract", society has the right to defend itself against criminals. This I will take as valid as well. However, I negate his claim that it follows that the death penalty is a suitable defense.

I am of the firm belief that Pro is not in favor of a system similar to the hypothetical situation he outlines, so I will refrain from pointing out its obvious absurdities.

-----------

My opponent states >>"I don't think anyone contests the notion that there is a basic right to live. In order to exercise this right, we must have a right to defend that life, either by incapacitation or fatality."<<

The right to defend oneself does not necessarily include the ability to kill someone who transgresses on his rights. A person does not have the lawful right to kill another for stealing a purse. Likewise, even if person A attempts to murder person B, person B only has the right to kill person A if he is in immediate danger. That means, if person A is unsuccessful in his attempt, person B cannot lawfully kill person A several days later.
Take the recent case against Joe Seals for instance. He claimed self defense when he shot Robert Ellis at point blank range. Mr. Ellis had no weapons and was not an immediate threat to Mr. Seals. Mr. Seals alleged that he felt he was in danger because he had seen Mr. Ellis attack other men with baseball bats and even choke them. He was found guilty of manslaughter.
(source: http://www.nytimes.com...)

Outcomes like this one are the norm because the right to self defense is legally defined to include only a proportionate response to the immediate danger. Simply stated, if a person is not in the immediate danger of being killed, that person does not have the right to kill an assailant. This is an important distinction, especially when addressing my opponents next claim.
(Note: I will accept this as common knowledge unless my opponent wishes to challenge this point.)

>>"Thus, society has a defensive right to exact the death penalty on those who would violate the rights of members of the society."<<

As has been shown, the right to self defense applies to the immediate danger of a situation. Society and the state are clearly not in immediate danger by the apprehended criminal, even "murderers, rapists, and child molesters." Society and the state have the power and the wherewithall to protect itself from such criminals merely by incarcerating them for the remainder of their life. To go beyond those means and kill the unarmed, helpless criminal would be to violate the legal definition of the right to self defense.

--------

With the right to self defense proven to not include the state-sponsered murder of a criminal, my opponent will likely attempt to activate the third right he claims for the state - the right to redress of grievances. However, redress of grievances does not give a victim the right to enact a full campaign of vengence. The victim does not have the right to define his own limits. Obviously a husband whose wife has been murdered does not have the right to kill her murderer. Similarly, the victim of a drunk driving accident does cannot redress his grievance by stabbing the drunk driver in the kidney. Without limits, chaos would ensue. The same concept applies to society and the state. Clearly revenge and redress have their limits.

CONCLUSION

My opponent's case rests on the flimsy basis that murderers, rapists, and child molesters deserve the death penalty because the state and society have the rights to delf defense and the right to redress of grievances. I have shown that these rights have limits.

I very much look forward to an exciting second round of debate.
Debate Round No. 1
JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

My old opponent has somewhat mischaracterized my argument, but I shall forgive him for this, because he does so quite eloquently, and I can see where his confusion arises.

Jblake has already conceded that society has a defensive right against criminals ("This I will take as valid."). He contests the scope of the right to defense, the scope of the right to redress of grievances, and the notion of 3rd part defense. I shall, however, address his other points first and then move to these three.

And as for the "absurdity" of my court model... I think a version of that could be defended, yes... you certainly wouldn't shoot the criminal right there on the stand, but especially in cases where the criminal has confessed, there's no excuse for keeping them alive for lengthy times at taxpayer expense.

*********************

My opponent is correct in his notion that the right to self defense stops when one's life is no longer threatened. However, this right DOES include lethal force if necessary. Since this is not entirely pertinent to the argument, I will move on, because it is indeed common knowledge - Self defense includes the right to use lethal force, but only when necessary. Otherwise, it is a violation of the attacker's rights (which I know sounds a little strange, but is indeed the case).

Apprehended murderers, rapists, and child molesters are not a danger to society, no. However, their crime does carry the weight of having broken the social contract in a way that has taken the most fundamental right of another person. Once they have abridged this right in another, they lack the same right themselves. This is not to say that the rapist should be raped, and the molester molested. This is to say that some actions are indeed so heinous that the perpetrator no longer deserves to live.

My opponent uses the criminal's right to self defense as a reason for why capital punishment is wrong. However, in violating another's right to self-defense and their right to life, the criminal has negated his own claim to this right. He also points to incarceration for life as a viable alternative. However, the problem with this is that the very same entity that the criminal has transgressed against (society) is supporting him while in prison. In other words, the man whose daughter was raped and murdered is paying for the man who raped and killed her to eat.

That's disgusting.

It is the topic of the right to redress of grievances that my opponent mischaracterizes. He is under the impression that this is a person-to-person right. However, this is not the case. The right to the redress of grievances enables a third party to obtain remuneration for actions on another's behalf, much in the same way the parents of a murdered victim may appear in court on their behalf. This right is for the state (or social contract, if you will) to exercise on behalf of the citizens to address the actions of criminals.

An argument under this right might follow:
1) You (the criminal) have forcibly removed Joe from the SC.
2) You are clearly guilty of murder (1).
3) The just punishment is to permanently remove you from the SC.
4) The just, and only way to do this is by death.

Obviously the right of redress of grievances is limited - this is why one cannot kill a man AND his father because that man murdered one person. The redress of grievances must be in the form of equal remuneration (or renumeration, whichever...), or else it is inherently unjust for one party or the other.

My opponent will no doubt begin asking questions about rehabilitation. However, the fact that someone is truly repentant for an action does not change the fact that the action a) took place, b) was heinously immoral, and c) still carries a punishment for the action.

******************************

My opponent claims that the rights to life, self defense, and redress of grievances are "flimsy" without showing a good case for why a basic understanding of these rights would not limit one from seeking the death penalty. A perfectly equitable right to redress of grievances would still not prohibit the use of capital punishment.

A caveat - for the three criminal acts I propose (murderers, rapists, and child molesters)... they are not part of the resolution, merely a personal preference. However, if my opponent would like to debate them, the only one that makes sense in the framework of the argument so far is the action of murder...

************************

Some acts are so heinous that the actor responsible for them does not deserve to live.
A perfectly equitable right to redress of grievances would still not prohibit the use of capital punishment.
Sometimes, the best way to protect society (for the un-rehabilitatible) is to kill the offender.

************************

AFFIRMED.
JBlake

Con

I must begin by apologizing to Pro for mischaracterizing him as 'young'. Though, he must concede that he does appear to be younger in his photograph.
-----

My opponent holds that the governmenrt has the right to take the life of a criminal in some cases as both a defense of society and as redress of grievances on behalf of the victim's family. He bases this right on the Social Contract Theory, despite there being no real consensus among social contract philosophers on a government's right to do so. I will address this below.

I will note that Pro has conceded that the government can no longer invoke the right to self defense when a criminal is incarcerated, thus no longer a threat to society ("Otherwise, it is a violation of the attacker's rights...My opponent is correct in his notion that the right to self defense stops when one's life is no longer threatened."). Therefore, the remainder of our debate will address the redress of grievances concept in the social contract theory.

Finally, he employs the appeal to emotion fallacy to attack life-term for prisoners, characterizing it as "disgusting" that tax payers must pay for the continued existence of someone who has violated the social contract to such extreme proportions (i.e. murderers, rapists, &ct.). This is a debate about the death penalty, therefore I am not concerned with my worthy opponent's opinion as to what constitutes "disgusting."

----------------------------------

Pro's case can be summed up in just one sentence, "...in violating another's right to self-defense and their right to life, the criminal has negated his own claim to this right."

He seems to take it for granted that Social Contract Theorists have come to an overall aggreement on this issue. This is despite the fact that few early theorists included this concept in their versions of social contract. Additionally, this ignores the soial contract theory known as the 'di law code theory'. This theory states that two law codes exist. The first set is the natural rights enjoyed by every human for merely existing. The second set is a state's law code. A state can only take away rights that it gives to its citizens. Therefore, natural right can never be taken away or violated by the government, no matter what a person does. Of course, this includes the right to life and liberty.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

An early version of this can be found in Rousseau's social contract. He states that " on the violation of the social compact, each regains his original rights and resumes his natural liberty, while losing the conventional liberty in favour of which he renounced it."
(http://www.fordham.edu... Paragraph 27)
As to what should be done with them on such a violation he states: "These clauses, properly understood, may be reduced to one -- the total alienation of each associate, together with all his rights, to the whole community."
(Paragraph 28)

In other words, the transgressor retains all of his natural rights, but is removed from society. In the modern era, we have characterized prison terms as a proper place to remove those dangerous to society; and those violating either set of rights of another citizen.

"An argument under this right might follow:
1) You (the criminal) have forcibly removed Joe from the SC.
2) You are clearly guilty of murder (1).
3) The just punishment is to permanently remove you from the SC.
4) The just, and only way to do this is by death."
Therefore, this hypothetical situation employed by my opponent woudl be an example of a government violating someone's natural rights. This is itself a violation of some versions of the social contract theory. A more just scenario may look like this:

1) You (the criminal) have forcibly removed Joe from the SC.
2) You are clearly guilty of murder.
3) The just punishment is to permanently remove you from the SC.
4) The just, and only way to do this is by incarcerating you for the remainder of your life.

My opponent concludes that:
"Some acts are so heinous that the actor responsible for them does not deserve to live."

However, this interpretation is based on opinion. Who gets to define what crimes are 'heinous'? In this debate, Pro defines it as murder, rape, and child molestation. But what if someone else were to define 'heinous' as adultery or for being raped like the girl in the following article was in Somalia?
(http://www.nytimes.com...)

It is dangerous to permit a government, or anyone for that matter, to violate the natural rights of some citizens based on standards they get to define.

CONCLUSION
A criminal retains his natural rights even when he violates the rights of another. A government only has the right to redress of grievances so long as it does not transgress on the natural rights of the criminal.
Debate Round No. 2
JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

I will accept my opponent's apologies, and assure him that I am well aware that I have been cursed with a babyface...

I'm going to start with my opponent's conclusion, because that delves straight to the point of the argument. He purports: "A criminal retains his natural rights even when he violates the rights of another. A government only has the right to redress of grievances so long as it does not transgress on the natural rights of the criminal."

Thus, it is a necessary requirement for the criminal to HAVE rights if the state is to transgress upon them. It makes no more sense to say that the state has transgressed upon rights that the criminal does not have than to say Susie has broken Jeff's toy, which does not exist.

****************************

It is no more an appeal to emotion than to justice to characterize an individual paying for their child's murderer "disgusting." My opponent tries to dismiss this as a mere appeal to emotion while ignoring the fact that it is egregiously unjust. If I am of the opinion that unjustice is disgusting, so be it. The fact remains that it is unjust.

While there may be no concrete consensus among social contract theorists, that does not mean that I cannot assert my opinion on the matter. My opinion is that a murderer has negated his right to life by taking that right from another. My opponent states that very few social contract theorists incorporate my reasoning into their theory. However, Locke, one of the most recognized SC theorists defends capital punishment in his Second Treatise on Government (forgive my lack of citation - I don't have the book with me, but I can add it as a comment). Also, I'd like to point out that the same source my opponent used states, in the section titled "Violations of the Contract" that "if the people make unreasonable, irrational choices, then the people can lose their rights." (http://en.wikipedia.org...).

In purporting that his source defends his conclusion, my opponent completely ignores the fact that his source also undermines his conclusion.

My opponent also attempts to use Rousseau's conception of the social contract (compact) to defend the idea that capital punishment is an inappropriate solution. However, Rousseau's concept of the social compact ignores common sense. Why would the thief retain a right to property? The slaver a right to freedom? The murderer a right to life? This sort of retaining of rights flys in the face of appropriate punishment and remuneration for transgressions. Rousseau's social compact seems to suggest that one would mete out punishment disproportionate to the crime - or in other words, take back from the thief only 90% of what he stole.

My opponent argues that incarceration fulfills Rousseau's mandate for removal from the social compact. However, incarceration in no way "totally alienates" the criminal "to the whole community." The community is responsible for SUPPORTING the criminal!

Additionally, my opponent appeals to cultural relativism as reasoning for why the classification of murder, rape, and child molestation should not be classified as heinous. Since I presume my opponent is not of the opinion that none of these are heinous, I'll leave this argument alone, as it was stipulated in the last round that the particulars of the crimes other than murder (which isn't culturally relative) are unimportant to the resolution.

***********************************

My opponent's entire argument rests on the notion that it is wrong to violate the rights of a citizen based on some standard.

However, if an individual enters into a social contract where it is understood that certain egregious violations like murder carry a penalty of death, the individual has given his right of self-determination on that subject area to the government. This is the same notion as if I agree that if I hit Paul, Peter is allowed to hit me.

Also, when an individual forcibly abridges another's right to life, is basically stating, "I don't believe that the right to life is sufficient reason to prevent one person from killing another." Thus, by his own "admission," the criminal has stated that his right to life is not sufficient reason to prevent the state from killing him. Thus, the reasoning must be based in some other standard.

However, the specifics of this other standard are not for this debate, as there is only one round left, and not enough time for us to debate their merits and demerits.

I have shown that an individual, by virtue of being a member in society, and forcibly abridging the rights of others in that society, has not only agreed to be punished by the manner that society sees fit, but has also given up his own right to life in cases of murder. As stated above, whether or not the cases where this is true include rape and child molestation is at the purview of the reader... however, please remember that this is not a poll on rapists and child molesters.

Murderers have negated their right to life, and thus, the death penalty is an appropriate punishment.

AFFIRMED.
JBlake

Con

I would like to thank my very able and eloquent, and most certainly NOT young opponent for an interesting and thought-provoking debate. I will sum up his argument below.

Claims:
1. Criminals lose their rights when they break the social contract.
2. It is unjust for a victim's family to have to pay for the continued existence of the person who murdered their family member.
3. Admits there is no concensus on Social Contract Theorists, but that it is his opinion that ciminals negate their rights when they break the social contract.
4. The source I stated contradicts my argument.
5. Roussou "ignores common sense". <<"Why would the thief retain a right to property? The slaver a right to freedom? The murderer a right to life? This sort of retaining of rights flys in the face of appropriate punishment and remuneration for transgressions.">>
6. <<"if an individual enters into a social contract where it is understood that certain egregious violations like murder carry a penalty of death, the individual has given his right of self-determination on that subject area to the government.">>

Rebuttals:
1. Pro claims that, based on the Social Contract, a criminal loses his natural rights. He then goes on to contradict himself when he admits there is no consensus on this point among Social Contract Theorists. Therefore, this point is null.

2. The amount paid by one taxpayer for the incarceration of a murderer is so miniscule as to go wholly unnoticed.
This is a problem that could have a solution. This is a single problem and not indicative of a need to exclude life incarceration as a sentence. The cost paid by the immediate family for the murderer's incarceration (through taxes) could be calculated. They could be reimbursed from the murderer's estate.

3. I admit that Pro indeed has a right to express his opinion on the matter. However, in debate we are not interested solely in the opinion of those involved. We are looking for verifiable evidence. To back up his opinion on this point Pro has used the Social Contract Theory. Unfortunately, as we have seen and as Pro has readily admitted, there is no consensus on this point. Theorists do not agree on if criminals retain or negate their natural rights when they break the contract.
I would like to note here that my point on dual sets of rights was not refuted by Pro and thus follows through to this final round unchallenged.

4. Yes, the source, wikipedia, both agrees with and contradicts my argument. That is the point, there is no consensus among Social Contract Theorists.

5. To say Roussou ignores common sense is clearly an opinion. So I hope that this wording does not sway the readers. Pro asks some relevent questions along with this point, which deserve addressing:

<<"Why would the thief retain a right to property? The slaver a right to freedom? The murderer a right to life? This sort of retaining of rights flys in the face of appropriate punishment and remuneration for transgressions.">>

They retain these rights because they are the 'natural' rights often touted by philosophers. The term Natural implies that they have these rights at birth and retain them until they die. Therefore, a state based on the principle of respecting natural rights cannot justly take these rights from one of its citizens. As I argued in R2, the state can remove civil rights from a criminal because it is the state that grants these 'civil' rights. Therefore, a state (government) can take away a citizen's Civil rights if that citizen breaks the contract with that state, but it can never justly take away his/her Natural rights.

6. A person enters the social contract by birth. It would be abusrd to expect an infant to understand that by virtue of being born it accepts that if he commits an "egregious crime" like murder his punishment is death. Additionally, as I have shown in point 5, a person does not (and can not) give up his/her Natural rights to the government. Natural rights lie outside the jurisdiction of the government.

CONCLUSION
My opponent argues that it is "disgusting" for a victim's family to pay for the murderer to live. I have shown that this is not necessary.
He bases his case on the social contract theory, stating that criminals lose their rights when they commit a crime. Unfortunately, in the same post he admits that there is no consensus on whether or not this is true.
Therefore, I have negated his claim that, based on the Social Contract Theory, "the death penalty is a just punishment for certain types of crimes."
I urge you to vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Rodriguez47 7 years ago
Rodriguez47
I think that anyone who has premeditated a death and executed it should NOT have the Write to live...Or anything ASSOCIATED with hurting someone in a deep way. I say This through experience of a VERY SH*TTy Child hood of being bullied and hurt sooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Many times that the people responsible should Burn in HELL for all ETERNITY. Just wnated to get that out There.
Posted by jjmd280 7 years ago
jjmd280
As it is my opinion that no one should vote on their own debate, my points on conduct go to CON. SP/Gr tied- all other to Pro.
Posted by JBlake 8 years ago
JBlake
I brought it up to let people know why I voted on my own debate.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
Of course I did - in my opinion my arguments are better than yours. This shouldn't surprise anyone. I also find my own writing style easier to read than yours. This shouldn't surprise anyone either.

On the other hand, bringing it up like you did influences my opinion of who had better conduct.
Posted by JBlake 8 years ago
JBlake
My opponent has seen fit to vote for himself for 'convincing argument' and 'spelling/grammar.' I will do the same to negate his vote.
Posted by JBlake 8 years ago
JBlake
I highly doubt that more people have been killed by released, escaped prisoners...
Posted by JAEHYUK 8 years ago
JAEHYUK
Everybody would agree that principle of capital punishment is that certain murderers deserve nothing less than death as a just, proportionate and effective punishment. There are problems with the death penalty, but these are with its implementation rather than its principle. Murderers forgo their rights as humans at the moment when they take away the rights of another human. By wielding such a powerful punishment as the response to murder, society is affirming the value that is placed upon the right to life of the innocent person. Many more innocent people have been killed by released, paroled or escaped murderers than innocent people executed.
Posted by kara 8 years ago
kara
I think that Death Penatlies are a little harsh but at the same time some cruel people in this world deserve it.I heard on the news one time that a man was sentenced to death penalty and a moth after he was killed they proved he did not do the crime.I am for Death Penalties and then i am not so i am undecided.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
Wrongful killing is illegal in the United States. However in some states, killing via euthanasia was legal, and in other states, killing IS legal. Ergo, your country-wide argument fails on its face.

Second, since the killer has already killed and has negated his right to life, the killing of the killer is just.
Posted by d4l 8 years ago
d4l
my oppinion for this argument is very specific, in our country killing is illegal so why on earth would they turn around and kill someone who has killed someone. thats sounds very disgusting have you heard of forgive in forget the people who did it may not be sorry so you need to stop killing killers i may sound weird but YOUR KILLING TO
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