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Brief Reflections on Capital Punishment

tejretics
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11/13/2016 1:17:53 PM
Posted: 3 weeks ago
Nebraska, Oklahoma, and California all chose to back the death penalty when given an option to oppose it. Capital punishment isn't really the most important political issue facing the United States--considering the terrible economic problems that still plague the country, and the world (e.g. abject poverty, lack of proper education and healthcare, food insecurity)--but it still deserves comment. It deserves comment because capital punishment is similar to those very economic problems and their solutions in multiple ways, and provides important commentary on the political spectrum in general.

Capital punishment is grounded in the perverse reaction for vengeance that arises in multiple human beings; this perverse reaction is willing to compromise multiple political and economic objectives in order to fulfill the emotional end required in it. And there are people--especially on the Right--that manipulate this reaction to further advance both their political careers, and a particularly dangerous political philosophy. There are two types of people that mostly do this: (1) emotionally volatile individuals that face this perverse reaction themselves, or wish to use it to further their voter base; and (2) individuals thirsty for increased concentration of power. There are also honest individuals that believe that the death penalty deters crime, and that is an argument to have for later... this reflection is not about that view.

Rather, this is about what sort of power we want the government to have in a democracy. Democracy is fundamentally about distribution of political power. When it was created, the purpose was to act as a check on the power of government. To check power accumulating in a single body--which would then inevitably pursue its own ends--democracy was formulated, in an attempt to decentralize political power, and thus allow for all individuals to pursue their self interests while ensuring that other's interests were not entirely destroyed; a form of mutual cooperation. In a democracy, therefore, at every point when political power and the power to make choices is centralized, it ought to be decentralized to allow for economic and social liberty (only insofar as the fundamental rights of individuals are preserved by government; e.g. education, healthcare, food, shelter, among others).

The death penalty is fundamentally undemocratic because it gives the government the power to take life. Often, the life that is taken is innocent life... people who were in the wrong place in the wrong time. In other words, our governments have the ability to--inadvertently--kill innocent people as an extension of the criminal "justice" system. That's not justice. That's a manipulation of individual desire for vengeance in order to achieve the pleasure of having power concentrated within yourself. The state is the ultimate coercive entity, and the only reason it exists is to preserve the basic dignity of the individual by upholding their rights (i.e. the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, etc.). When that coercive entity is given the power to take the life of its citizens with no legitimate reason (i.e. when there are other more effective ways of preventing harm to society), it becomes an authoritarian locus of concentrated power.

The right to life is higher than state power. State power cannot infringe on the right to life unless there is strong reason to believe that there is a necessary balancing of the lives of other individuals. In the case of the death penalty, given the sophistication of modern prisons in many cases, that is absolutely not needed--leaving it a mere quest to gain power, and giving the state the power over our lives. It utterly puzzles me, therefore, when conservatives, in the same breath, berate Obamacare for being "too much government involvement in the lives of citizens" while supporting the death penalty as "necessary retribution." That is obviously nonsensical. There are legitimate reasons for supporting the death penalty (e.g. deterrence) but those are being put to the test--while conservatives who value power when it is convenient for them continue to support it for perverse reasons.
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
Hayd
Posts: 4,022
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11/17/2016 2:52:44 AM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/13/2016 1:17:53 PM, tejretics wrote:
Nebraska, Oklahoma, and California all chose to back the death penalty when given an option to oppose it. Capital punishment isn't really the most important political issue facing the United States--considering the terrible economic problems that still plague the country, and the world (e.g. abject poverty, lack of proper education and healthcare, food insecurity)--but it still deserves comment. It deserves comment because capital punishment is similar to those very economic problems and their solutions in multiple ways, and provides important commentary on the political spectrum in general.

Very true, abolishing the death penalty isn't terribly important given how few people it ends up affecting. Although, from an economic standpoint, it could be substantial. I just went and glanced at the statistics again and we could save $5 billion in 20 years if we abolished, which could save millions of lives if all donated to charity. But if not, still a substantial amount of money.

Regardless, the death penalty is my favorite debate topic since it incorporates so many different subjects. Morality, philosophy, economics, statistics, and theory are all weighed against eachother. Morality being governments place in killing someone, philosophy in deterrence vs. killing someone (utilitarianism vs. deontology), statistics of deterrence studies, theory of rational action, and others. It's interesting, most interesting of the interesting subject of criminal justice. Political philosophy is awesome

Capital punishment is grounded in the perverse reaction for vengeance that arises in multiple human beings; this perverse reaction is willing to compromise multiple political and economic objectives in order to fulfill the emotional end required in it. And there are people--especially on the Right--that manipulate this reaction to further advance both their political careers, and a particularly dangerous political philosophy. There are two types of people that mostly do this: (1) emotionally volatile individuals that face this perverse reaction themselves, or wish to use it to further their voter base; and (2) individuals thirsty for increased concentration of power. There are also honest individuals that believe that the death penalty deters crime, and that is an argument to have for later... this reflection is not about that view.

Rather, this is about what sort of power we want the government to have in a democracy. Democracy is fundamentally about distribution of political power. When it was created, the purpose was to act as a check on the power of government. To check power accumulating in a single body--which would then inevitably pursue its own ends--democracy was formulated, in an attempt to decentralize political power, and thus allow for all individuals to pursue their self interests while ensuring that other's interests were not entirely destroyed; a form of mutual cooperation.

I suppose so, but this is more of a positive reason for having it, an effect. But I think the more important and fundamental reason for democracy is based on the nature of government itself. The Dec. of Indep. says it exactly, based on the nature of government the only just way to perpetuate a government is through democracy since a government is made up of people with the consent of the subjucated people in order to protect their rights (rather than state of nature). Without the consent of the governed the purpose of having a government disappears, and thus is unjust. Democracy (or a Republic) is essential to representing the people's consent.

Preventing against a centralized government is a good effect of democracy, the fundamental, intrinsic reasoning for it is that. The nature of government philosophically, in state of nature vs. subjegation for protected rights.

In a democracy, therefore, at every point when political power and the power to make choices is centralized, it ought to be decentralized to allow for economic and social liberty (only insofar as the fundamental rights of individuals are preserved by government; e.g. education, healthcare, food, shelter, among others).

The death penalty is fundamentally undemocratic because it gives the government the power to take life. Often, the life that is taken is innocent life... people who were in the wrong place in the wrong time. In other words, our governments have the ability to--inadvertently--kill innocent people as an extension of the criminal "justice" system. That's not justice.

I disagree with this as well. Innocent people are killed by the death penalty, but it is not a significant amount. The *vast* majority of people taken by the death penalty are guilty. Regardless, if we are talking merely about the concept rather than the current US, the DP could be amended to be to people proven beyond a doubt that they did the crime. For example, there is a video showing them doing it and pleaded guilty.

Although I suppose slippery slope would work here, but that's such a speculative impact.

That's a manipulation of individual desire for vengeance in order to achieve the pleasure of having power concentrated within yourself. The state is the ultimate coercive entity, and the only reason it exists is to preserve the basic dignity of the individual by upholding their rights (i.e. the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, etc.). When that coercive entity is given the power to take the life of its citizens with no legitimate reason (i.e. when there are other more effective ways of preventing harm to society), it becomes an authoritarian locus of concentrated power.

The right to life is higher than state power. State power cannot infringe on the right to life unless there is strong reason to believe that there is a necessary balancing of the lives of other individuals. In the case of the death penalty, given the sophistication of modern prisons in many cases, that is absolutely not needed--leaving it a mere quest to gain power, and giving the state the power over our lives. It utterly puzzles me, therefore, when conservatives, in the same breath, berate Obamacare for being "too much government involvement in the lives of citizens" while supporting the death penalty as "necessary retribution." That is obviously nonsensical. There are legitimate reasons for supporting the death penalty (e.g. deterrence) but those are being put to the test--while conservatives who value power when it is convenient for them continue to support it for perverse reasons.

Agreed
Stymie13
Posts: 2,162
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11/17/2016 3:25:20 AM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
Op, it isn't the government authorizing the taking of life by the death penalty.

The jury must convict and authorize that. So look to your peers, not the government.

Maybe that was overlooked but it cannot be dismissed.
Robkwoods
Posts: 570
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11/17/2016 4:57:46 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
I find it no different than self defense. Especially in the case of Murder or Rape.

Given equal ground in either scenario, had the person had the ability to defend themselves there would be no court case.
RookieApologist
Posts: 469
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11/17/2016 5:17:40 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
I'm not necessarily against capital punishment, but I am certainly against the current form it takes. As Hayd said, it costs an incredible amount of money, and usually the offender spends decades in prison before they are finally put to death. I'm also fine with replacing the death penalty with LWOP sentences.

I do find it somewhat interesting that most pro-choice folks are also anti-capital punishment. Honestly not really sure why, as I'm aware they aren't the same, but does seem slightly hypocritical.
RookieApologist
Posts: 469
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11/17/2016 5:18:44 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
I also agree that it's just not that big of an issue, at least to me, and it seems like to most of the country.
Stymie13
Posts: 2,162
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11/17/2016 5:36:32 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/17/2016 5:17:40 PM, RookieApologist wrote:
I'm not necessarily against capital punishment, but I am certainly against the current form it takes. As Hayd said, it costs an incredible amount of money, and usually the offender spends decades in prison before they are finally put to death. I'm also fine with replacing the death penalty with LWOP sentences.

I do find it somewhat interesting that most pro-choice folks are also anti-capital punishment. Honestly not really sure why, as I'm aware they aren't the same, but does seem slightly hypocritical.

Not most but many. Just like many, not most, pro life are for capital punishment. Bottom line is the supposition is wrong: it takes a jury to convict and agree to cap punishment. The gov can only ask for it.
zmikecuber
Posts: 4,082
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11/17/2016 5:38:30 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/13/2016 1:17:53 PM, tejretics wrote:
Nebraska, Oklahoma, and California all chose to back the death penalty when given an option to oppose it. Capital punishment isn't really the most important political issue facing the United States--considering the terrible economic problems that still plague the country, and the world (e.g. abject poverty, lack of proper education and healthcare, food insecurity)--but it still deserves comment. It deserves comment because capital punishment is similar to those very economic problems and their solutions in multiple ways, and provides important commentary on the political spectrum in general.

Capital punishment is grounded in the perverse reaction for vengeance that arises in multiple human beings;

I stopped reading here.

this perverse reaction is willing to compromise multiple political and economic objectives in order to fulfill the emotional end required in it. And there are people--especially on the Right--that manipulate this reaction to further advance both their political careers, and a particularly dangerous political philosophy. There are two types of people that mostly do this: (1) emotionally volatile individuals that face this perverse reaction themselves, or wish to use it to further their voter base; and (2) individuals thirsty for increased concentration of power. There are also honest individuals that believe that the death penalty deters crime, and that is an argument to have for later... this reflection is not about that view.

Rather, this is about what sort of power we want the government to have in a democracy. Democracy is fundamentally about distribution of political power. When it was created, the purpose was to act as a check on the power of government. To check power accumulating in a single body--which would then inevitably pursue its own ends--democracy was formulated, in an attempt to decentralize political power, and thus allow for all individuals to pursue their self interests while ensuring that other's interests were not entirely destroyed; a form of mutual cooperation. In a democracy, therefore, at every point when political power and the power to make choices is centralized, it ought to be decentralized to allow for economic and social liberty (only insofar as the fundamental rights of individuals are preserved by government; e.g. education, healthcare, food, shelter, among others).

The death penalty is fundamentally undemocratic because it gives the government the power to take life. Often, the life that is taken is innocent life... people who were in the wrong place in the wrong time. In other words, our governments have the ability to--inadvertently--kill innocent people as an extension of the criminal "justice" system. That's not justice. That's a manipulation of individual desire for vengeance in order to achieve the pleasure of having power concentrated within yourself. The state is the ultimate coercive entity, and the only reason it exists is to preserve the basic dignity of the individual by upholding their rights (i.e. the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, etc.). When that coercive entity is given the power to take the life of its citizens with no legitimate reason (i.e. when there are other more effective ways of preventing harm to society), it becomes an authoritarian locus of concentrated power.

The right to life is higher than state power. State power cannot infringe on the right to life unless there is strong reason to believe that there is a necessary balancing of the lives of other individuals. In the case of the death penalty, given the sophistication of modern prisons in many cases, that is absolutely not needed--leaving it a mere quest to gain power, and giving the state the power over our lives. It utterly puzzles me, therefore, when conservatives, in the same breath, berate Obamacare for being "too much government involvement in the lives of citizens" while supporting the death penalty as "necessary retribution." That is obviously nonsensical. There are legitimate reasons for supporting the death penalty (e.g. deterrence) but those are being put to the test--while conservatives who value power when it is convenient for them continue to support it for perverse reasons.
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tejretics
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11/20/2016 5:08:18 AM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/17/2016 2:52:44 AM, Hayd wrote:
I just went and glanced at the statistics again and we could save $5 billion in 20 years if we abolished, which could save millions of lives if all donated to charity.

It wouldn't save that much money, and the problem with that statistic is that the cost of maintaining an individual in jail for around 30 years is not added to the cost of LWOP... the net cost of the death penalty is more, but not substantially.

I suppose so, but this is more of a positive reason for having it, an effect. But I think the more important and fundamental reason for democracy is based on the nature of government itself. The Dec. of Indep. says it exactly, based on the nature of government the only just way to perpetuate a government is through democracy since a government is made up of people with the consent of the subjucated people in order to protect their rights (rather than state of nature). Without the consent of the governed the purpose of having a government disappears, and thus is unjust. Democracy (or a Republic) is essential to representing the people's consent.

Why does the consent of the people matter? Because they can have autonomy or freedom... which is fundamentally a form of power.

Preventing against a centralized government is a good effect of democracy, the fundamental, intrinsic reasoning for it is that. The nature of government philosophically, in state of nature vs. subjegation for protected rights.

Protected rights exist simply to maximize the liberty of individuals... like, freedom is the reason democracy was created. Freedom or liberty is the same as power over oneself. When I use terms like "power" and "ownership" I use them interchangeably, but it all comes down to everyone having equal power and equal liberty.

I disagree with this as well. Innocent people are killed by the death penalty, but it is not a significant amount. The *vast* majority of people taken by the death penalty are guilty.

That's mostly irrelevant to the argument I'm making. I'm saying the government shouldn't have the power to take life when no net benefit results, especially if that life is innocent.

Although I suppose slippery slope would work here, but that's such a speculative impact.

You've completely misunderstood what I said... I didn't say it's a slippery slope to genocide or that it was a dangerous precedent. I said that at a deontological level it is undemocratic to give the government the power to take life.
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
Quadrunner
Posts: 1,083
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11/20/2016 6:02:45 AM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/17/2016 4:57:46 PM, Robkwoods wrote:
I find it no different than self defense. Especially in the case of Murder or Rape.

Given equal ground in either scenario, had the person had the ability to defend themselves there would be no court case.

Self Defense does not hold the intention of killing the other party....That wouldn't be defense, which only concerns the protection and preservation of your body, liberty, life and all that hoopla. If the intention to kill was proven, there are legal repercussions in my state. It just so happens that the best measure for self defense is still lethal at this time. Hopefully that will change some day soon.
Wisdom is found where the wise seek it.
Hayd
Posts: 4,022
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11/20/2016 5:02:29 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/20/2016 5:08:18 AM, tejretics wrote:
At 11/17/2016 2:52:44 AM, Hayd wrote:
I just went and glanced at the statistics again and we could save $5 billion in 20 years if we abolished, which could save millions of lives if all donated to charity.

It wouldn't save that much money, and the problem with that statistic is that the cost of maintaining an individual in jail for around 30 years is not added to the cost of LWOP... the net cost of the death penalty is more, but not substantially.

True, but I would argue that a couple million dollars is substantial.

I suppose so, but this is more of a positive reason for having it, an effect. But I think the more important and fundamental reason for democracy is based on the nature of government itself. The Dec. of Indep. says it exactly, based on the nature of government the only just way to perpetuate a government is through democracy since a government is made up of people with the consent of the subjucated people in order to protect their rights (rather than state of nature). Without the consent of the governed the purpose of having a government disappears, and thus is unjust. Democracy (or a Republic) is essential to representing the people's consent.

Why does the consent of the people matter? Because they can have autonomy or freedom... which is fundamentally a form of power.

Governments are created by the people and for the people. The best way in which to govern the people for the people is by the people's wishes (keeping in mind life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness as those cannot be violated by majority rule.) If a new law will affect me, I should have say in whether it passes or not because that is how best to represent my interests to the governing body and thus to govern for me. You seem to see democracy as the best way in which to divide up power for the public good, in order to preserve good things such as freedom. Its more fundamental than that.

Preventing against a centralized government is a good effect of democracy, the fundamental, intrinsic reasoning for it is that. The nature of government philosophically, in state of nature vs. subjegation for protected rights.

Protected rights exist simply to maximize the liberty of individuals... like, freedom is the reason democracy was created. Freedom or liberty is the same as power over oneself. When I use terms like "power" and "ownership" I use them interchangeably, but it all comes down to everyone having equal power and equal liberty.

Freedom is not the reason democracy was created. Democracy was created based on the fundamental nature of the government, being that it governs over people for their overrall good in order to preserve rights that would not be protected in a state of nature. The only way to justly do so is to have the consent of the governed.

I disagree with this as well. Innocent people are killed by the death penalty, but it is not a significant amount. The *vast* majority of people taken by the death penalty are guilty.

That's mostly irrelevant to the argument I'm making. I'm saying the government shouldn't have the power to take life when no net benefit results, especially if that life is innocent.

Yes

Although I suppose slippery slope would work here, but that's such a speculative impact.

You've completely misunderstood what I said... I didn't say it's a slippery slope to genocide or that it was a dangerous precedent. I said that at a deontological level it is undemocratic to give the government the power to take life.

I was saying slippery slope to my own thing lol
tejretics
Posts: 6,086
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11/21/2016 10:28:12 AM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/20/2016 5:02:29 PM, Hayd wrote:
At 11/20/2016 5:08:18 AM, tejretics wrote:
At 11/17/2016 2:52:44 AM, Hayd wrote:
I just went and glanced at the statistics again and we could save $5 billion in 20 years if we abolished, which could save millions of lives if all donated to charity.

It wouldn't save that much money, and the problem with that statistic is that the cost of maintaining an individual in jail for around 30 years is not added to the cost of LWOP... the net cost of the death penalty is more, but not substantially.

True, but I would argue that a couple million dollars is substantial.

It's not a couple million dollars. In fact the difference is close to zero.

Governments are created by the people and for the people. The best way in which to govern the people for the people is by the people's wishes (keeping in mind life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness as those cannot be violated by majority rule.) If a new law will affect me, I should have say in whether it passes or not because that is how best to represent my interests to the governing body and thus to govern for me. You seem to see democracy as the best way in which to divide up power for the public good, in order to preserve good things such as freedom. Its more fundamental than that.

I would say that "freedom" is one such of "[your] interests." I think people need to have the ability to pursue their interests on their own and democracy is critical for that.

Freedom is not the reason democracy was created. Democracy was created based on the fundamental nature of the government, being that it governs over people for their overrall good in order to preserve rights that would not be protected in a state of nature. The only way to justly do so is to have the consent of the governed.

What "overall good"? The founders of democracy were hardly utilitarians.

Consent is about power itself... I don't think we disagree on much.
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
Hayd
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11/23/2016 5:58:15 PM
Posted: 1 week ago
At 11/21/2016 10:28:12 AM, tejretics wrote:
At 11/20/2016 5:02:29 PM, Hayd wrote:
At 11/20/2016 5:08:18 AM, tejretics wrote:
At 11/17/2016 2:52:44 AM, Hayd wrote:
I just went and glanced at the statistics again and we could save $5 billion in 20 years if we abolished, which could save millions of lives if all donated to charity.

It wouldn't save that much money, and the problem with that statistic is that the cost of maintaining an individual in jail for around 30 years is not added to the cost of LWOP... the net cost of the death penalty is more, but not substantially.

True, but I would argue that a couple million dollars is substantial.

It's not a couple million dollars. In fact the difference is close to zero.

Governments are created by the people and for the people. The best way in which to govern the people for the people is by the people's wishes (keeping in mind life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness as those cannot be violated by majority rule.) If a new law will affect me, I should have say in whether it passes or not because that is how best to represent my interests to the governing body and thus to govern for me. You seem to see democracy as the best way in which to divide up power for the public good, in order to preserve good things such as freedom. Its more fundamental than that.

I would say that "freedom" is one such of "[your] interests." I think people need to have the ability to pursue their interests on their own and democracy is critical for that.

Not necessarily. Conceptually the outcome of democracy is neutral. What if the population was generally against freedom for the promise of safety, for example after a terrorist attack like 9/11? They would vote to limit freedom. It is only in the status quo that democracy promotes freedom, but that's not of the nature of democracy since, conceptually, democracy outcome is a neutral value. Who's to say that a monarch believing in freedom goes against the public's wish to limit freedom? The point is that democracy is a neutral value.

Although, you could argue that freedom is an objectively and intrinsically desirable good and thus the public will always lean towards promoting freedom, or that in the alternative (for example a monarchy) would be more inclined to become corrupt and excercise excessive power and limit freedom because of the high concentration of power. But you didn't argue for either yet

Freedom is not the reason democracy was created. Democracy was created based on the fundamental nature of the government, being that it governs over people for their overrall good in order to preserve rights that would not be protected in a state of nature. The only way to justly do so is to have the consent of the governed.

What "overall good"? The founders of democracy were hardly utilitarians.

Consent is about power itself... I don't think we disagree on much.

ikr