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The Contender
Con (against)
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Death penalty is never justified, under any circumstance

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/11/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,564 times Debate No: 52229
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (26)
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I thank wrirchcirw for agreeing to debate this resolution. This debate is mostly a culmination of some things I’ve been reading up on local news, and my reaction to them. For the purpose of the debate, I’ll be arguing that Death penalty is never justified.

Some definitions before we get started:

Death penalty- also referred to as capital punishment. Execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law of a criminal offense.

Justified- The concept of justice can be multi- pronged, and extremely debateable, but for the purpose of this debate- I’ll be arguing for a utilitarian conception of justice. It is derived from a basic standard of rightness and consequentionalism, what is right is what has the best consequences (usually measured by the total or average welfare caused). So, the proper principles of justice are those that tend to have the best consequences.

This will be a no scoring debate, please do not vote for one or the other.

First round for acceptace, no new arguments in round 4.



I thank cermank for challenging me to this debate. I do not think about the death penalty often, so I view this debate as an opportunity to explore the topic. I will note before the debate begins proper that cermank and I both discussed and acknowledged that this specific resolution places a very high burden of proof on PRO due to the use of absolute wording, i.e. "never justified, under any circumstance". This extremely strong wording stems from cermank's own beliefs on the topic.

I agree on the emphasis on practicality for this debate as noted by how "justified" is defined, and gladly accept.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank Con for accepting the debate. I am sure it would an interesting one.

Death penalty has been a ever present concept throughout our history. The justification for the same can be broadly covered under the desire for some of the crimes having no place in a civilised society. And society universally condemning those crimes through the most severe punishment they can possibly enforce.

I disagree with th epremise of the punishment, and during the course of the debate will point out exactly why I believe Death penalty has a regressive effect/ bearing on the society as a whole, and thus is unjust.

I’ll argue on two basic premises-

P1- There is no evidence to prove that death penalty lowers the crime rate.

The literature on the impact of death penalty on the deterrence rate has been consistently non conclusive. While most deterrence research has found that the death penalty has virtually the same effect as long-term imprisonment on homicide rates, in the mid-1970's economist Isaac Ehrlich reported that he had uncovered a significant deterrent effect. Although scholars, including a panel appointed by the National Academy of Sciences, strongly criticized Ehrlich's work for methodological and conceptual shortcomings, it still continues to be cited as a prominent advocacy work.

On April 2012, National Research Council was asked to assess whether the available evidence provides a scientific basis for answering questions of if and how the death penalty affects homicide rates. The committee examined studies that have been conducted on deterrence and the death penalty since the 1976 Supreme Court decision in Gregg vs. Georgia, which ended a four-year moratorium on executions.

It concluded that “that research to date is not informative about whether capital punishment decreases, increases, or has no effect on homicide rates.Therefore, these studies should not be used to inform deliberations requiring judgments about the effect of the death penalty on homicide. Claims that research demonstrates that capital punishment decreases or increases the homicide rate or has no effect on it should not influence policy judgments about capital punishment.” [1]

Thus, we have no evidence that death penalty lowers crime rate, or has a significant deterrence impact on crime rate.

P2 – The moral justifications of the concept of death penalty are not valid.

This quote in the ‘Introduction to the European Court of Justice” adequately summarises many of the arguments for death penalty.

"Punishment is the way in which society expresses its denunciation of wrong doing; and, in order to maintain respect for the law, it is essential that the punishment inflicted for grave crimes should adequately reflect the revulsion felt by the great majority of citizens for them. It is a mistake to consider the objects of punishments as being a deterrent or reformative or preventive and nothing else... The truth is that some crimes are so outrageous that society insists on adequate punishment, because the wrong doer deserves it, irrespective of whether it is a deterrent or not.”

It basis the justification on two principles, the crime must be outrageous enough to warrant death penalty, and that killing the guilty is the society’s way to express the denunciation.

Assume we have a person A who killed his wife, cut her into pieces and burnt them in a oven. [2] The crime is universally abhorrent, and the collective conscience condemns it. It’s so outrageous that the society believes that the perpetrator must be murdered in order to balance the wrongs done by him.

Futile- The question that arises, however- is what would killing him achieve? Will it numb the pain of the girl killed? Unfortunately not, for she’s dead. Perhaps it will bring peace to the family of the girl? By what arithmetic will it diminish someone’s pain? Can you really measure the quantum of pain, and the quantum of reduction? Can the death of the girls be recompensed by the death of the perpetrator delivered cold by a hangman? Is an instant death a punishment worse than being socially excluded, and forced to relive his crimes, day after day?

Devalues life- Let’s look at it from another perspective. Assume another person B was killed in a car accident caused because the other person was drunk. The society does not find this universally abhorrent, because its not rare. There’s no death penalty demanded in this case- because the death is run of the mill one. Is the pain of death for B’s family less than that of A? Given that both A’s and B’s murderers committed actions that lead to a death, doesn’t selectively unequal punishment for both of them a violation of *justice*? More on this later.

Slippery slope – Finally, when the penalty is subject to contingencies as subjective as the public conscience- there is a extremely high probability of a slippery slope. In India, for example- the latest war-cry is death penalty to the rapists- something that has been legalised in 2013, and the first DP has already been handed out to 3 rapists [3]. In China, for example, it is legal to prosecute people in charge of corruption. Both of the punishments are acceptable because the society that awards them feels that the crimes deserve death. A state sponsored death. The severity of the crime that warrants a death penalty has reduced, because people are alright with killing people over some arbitrarily decided social standard. Because it is accepted that killing people is a justified punishment , anything that our collective conscience reprimands, becomes a murder- warranting crime.

Tying together the framework, [a] we don’t know the deterrence impact of death penalty. Any argument stemming from the justification of it leading to fewer crimes in future is not based on empirical conclusions. For people who not care about empirical conclusions- it usually becomes about *punishing* a person who commits a crime so heinous that it violates the social conduct, the collective social conscience. [b] The problem with that, however, is that it devalues life of the people whose murderers/ violators do not deserve this punishment- *based on the recurrence of the crime in the society/ immunity of the society*. If we argue that it makes the people happy, or helps them come to peace with the death- the argument is flawed because the people then need therapy- not a medieval tooth for tooth philosophy followed by the state. And the same line of reasoning can lead to a lot of crimes coming under death penalty crimes- as evidenced by examples in India and China.

The consequence of such a punishment is regressive for the well being of the society. There is no evidence it leads to lesser crimes, it devalues life, has a tendency to cater to the blood thirsty society and is ultimately futile for the people dealing with the brunt of the crime, given that the crime has already taken place. Death penalty as a punishment, therefore, is unjust.

The resolution is affirmed.






I thank PRO for an interesting case, and for providing a good amount of material to work with. I will first focus upon why the death penalty exists, and then proffer hypotheticals that demonstrate the necessity for a death penalty in extremely rare cases.

Why does the death penalty exist?

PRO posits that it is due to "some of the crimes having no place in a civilised society," but this is highly inaccurate. All crimes have no place in a civilized society, which is why we have laws that punish all crimes, whether that punishment comes in the form of a small fine, prison time, exile, or death.

We can thus explore the "why" to reach a more accurate answer. I will posit several plausible reasons derived from PRO's arguments; due to the wording of the resolution, these reasons only have to be POSSIBLE for me to meet the burden of proof. They do not have to be true in all situations, but only in some situations, as even one valid situation would mean that the death penalty is justifiable in SOME circumstances. If the audience is convinced of the validity of one case in a quadrillion, then the resolution is negated. My burden is thus extremely light, whereas burden for PRO is extremely heavy.

I will reserve the right to address later PRO's points about deterrence, and will for now instead focus entirely on what PRO quoted from the "European Court of Justice" (which is actually attributed to Lord Justice Denning (

"The truth is that some crimes are so outrageous that society insists on adequate punishment, because the wrong doer deserves it"

PRO attempts to diffuse this justification by 1) citing the futility of the death penalty as any form of solace, 2) how it devalues life, and 3) how it can possibly lead to a slippery slope in the specific case of Naini Sahina, a victim of a jealous husband who sought to dispose of his murdered wife's remains in a tandoor oven.

However, none of PRO's arguments actually address the quote by Denning. Here we have an outrageous crime, sure, but the crime could easily be far more outrageous. Sahina' murderer committed a crime of passion and acted out of desperation - we can relate to some degree with his actions, as we have all attempted to cover up wrong-doing done in "the heat of the moment" and we all know that such acts do not condemn a person. Of course, such impulsiveness does not cause us to murder people close to us...but, is such a crime deserving of the death penalty? Was it "outrageous" enough? Let's assume not.

What if the murderer re-married and committed the same crime? What if, upon conviction, the murderer was set free, and then began a mass killing spree involving hundreds if not thousands of chopped up women and tandoor ovens? At what point does his crime become "so outrageous that society insists upon adequate punishment?" 100 murders? 1,000? 10,000?

At some point, such a criminal is beyond redemption and risks not only destroying societal cohesion, but may very well risk destroying ALL of the people that constitute society itself. If one man threatened to kill every single other living person on the face of the earth for whatever reason, was already in the process of carrying out his threat, and was able to escape from even the most secure and isolated prison cells, would this man deserve the death penalty? Is society left with any other choice? Given that society has no other option, to condone the death penalty is anything BUT futile.

This is what Lord Denning was referring to when he talked about how "some crimes are so outrageous that society insists on adequate punishment." At some point, somewhere, a crime fits this bill, and the adequate punishment must be death, if not worse.


Does this punishment devalue life? Perhaps the better question is, "does allowing such a criminal to run free devalue life even more"? I would thus argue that contra PRO's assertion, "The consequence of such a punishment is [NOT] regressive for the well being of the society," but in fact seeks to prevent further regression.


What about the slippery slope? On a prior debate Cermank had on this subject, my RFD involved scoring arguments against her due to the other side convincingly arguing the slippery slope. I've since changed my mind on this particular form of argumentation.

All slopes are slippery. No matter what position you take, you risk establishing a trend, the "slippery slope." It could be brushing your teeth in the morning, skipping breakfast, going to the pub after work, or kissing your kids good night before tucking them into bed. All of these are slippery slopes.

So yes, the death penalty risks becoming a slippery slope of its own. So does abolishing the death penalty. The slope is slippery no matter what you do, so this form of argumentation is simply not valid for either PRO/CON.


Lord Denning was right - "some crimes are so outrageous that society insists on adequate punishment." For the purposes of this debate, I simply ask that audiences imagine the most heinous crime imaginable, and then do whatever it takes to make it even more heinous...and then to do this ad infinitum. At some point, enough is enough. At some point, the death penalty is justifiable.

I have refuted PRO's case and have provided burden for my own. I have demonstrated that

1) The death penalty is not futile in extreme cases.
2) The death penalty does not devalue life and instead seeks to prevent further regression of such devaluation in a society torn apart by the perpetrator's crimes.
3) All slopes are slippery, and is thus invalid for PRO/CON to argue over.

Naini Sahina's case is actually not all that heinous, as it is something we can actually relate to (in a very, very bad way); some may even consider the murderer to be redeemable. Other cases like the Night Stalker, where a man who had an indescribably torturous childhood, worshipped Satan, and killed without remorse scores of victims over several years before he himself went into the wrong neighborhood and was himself nearly killed is psychologically almost inexplicable due to the broken nature of such a mind. This man was convicted of 13 death sentences, but was never executed. (

Take this "Night Stalker" and imagine someone one million times worse. If that is not enough, make it one million times more severe than that, etc. At some point, enough is enough.
Debate Round No. 2


"The truth is that some crimes are so outrageous that society insists on adequate punishment, because the wrong doer deserves it"

PRO attempts to diffuse this justification by 1) citing the futility of the death penalty as any form of solace, 2) how it devalues life, and 3) how it can possibly lead to a slippery slope in the specific case of Naini Sahina, a victim of a jealous husband who sought to dispose of his murdered wife's remains in a tandoor oven.


An interesting response, thanks.

I agree that the BOP is larger on me here, and if Con can posit even a single case where death penalty is warranted, he wins this debate by default. I’ll start with the rebuttals.

Con began by trying to find the limit of the tolerance level of the ‘society’ in a sense. In a sort of balance sheet approach, he contends that even if we set the liability of a death penalty extremely high- there MUST be a level of attrocity that reaches and surpasses this liability making the punishment relavant.

However, this mischaracterizes the nature of the punishment. The punishment is handed out as a form of retributive justice, rather than restorative justice ( which focusses on the issues and needs of the victims and the offenders) rather than merely punishing the offender. This balance sheet apprach do not work in a restorative justice framework because the ‘punishment’ that is meted out does not focus on the cause of the crime- something that is imperative if we are to lower the incidence of the said crime in future.

So, taking the improvised outrageous condition outlined by Con, suppose we catch the killer at time t- when he has already killed 1000 people. We can kill him, or imprison and study him, say. The concept sometimes isn't that easy to articulate, so here's a table you might want to go through before going through the defence argument.

There is always a cause for someone being the way he is. And there's always a solution to that, be it medical, or psychological. I'm not arguing to release a deranged killer into the wild, restorative justice system *allows* to address the cause of this disorder. Even in an extreme case, where we are nowhere close to developing a tool to address a specific psychological disorder- we have a specimen that can help us understand the condition better right there with us. Why would we want to kill him, if we can use him to further our understanding of the problem? We can keep him in the prison for the entirety of his lifetime, as a fair punishment for all the deaths that he caused, while using him to lessen the cost of those deaths on the society.

There is no reason to kill the guilty, he’s going to die anyway.What we CAN do is extract all we can from him, to lessen the pain of his existence.

This is where Lord Danning’s proposition over some crimes having no place in a civilised society come forth. Someone steals, you give back the money and enforce a time out to the robber. The victim is ‘right-ed’ again. You don’t right the victim when you kill the guilty even though you CAN right the victim through an alternate punishment.

Interestingly, although this isn’t really a line of argument I was interested in going in the debate, but I have to mention it. Con mentioned, while developing the Naina Sahni case hypothetical–‘ What if, upon conviction, the murderer was set free, and then began a mass killing spree involving hundreds if not thousands of chopped up women and tandoor ovens?’

If a court cannot even sentence a person, i.e, the evidence of his guilt isn’t enough to impison him- it cannot, and should not, discuss death penalty for the person. The death of an innocent person by the state is a a risk that’s associated with death penalty contingent to the system. Something irreversible.

Moving on, Con argued that allowing such a criminal to run free devalues life even more. The problem with the argument is that the defence isn’t arguing for *freedom* of the killer. Its arguing to not kill him, he still needs an adequate punishment. Once we catch the killer- which is necessary to punish him, we imprison him. We subject him to the alternate justice system, we understand his motivations, bring about the relavant social changes to prevent further similar crimes- and force him to lessen the pain of his existence through the punishment. He mentioned the Night stalker case to strengthen the argument. The night stalker had emotional and psychological issues stemming from a traumatic childhood. At the time of his conviction, his reaction to the reporters was reported to be, “"Big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland.” Was death penalty really a punishment?

Hitler committed suicide. There are things scarier than death.
Killing guilty does not prevent further regression since the criminal is going to die with or without state sponsorship.

On the slippery slope, I guess I’d agree with Con. I forgot that debate, and we did argue over the fact that abolishing death penalty has a possibility of a slippery slope where we abolish life imprisonment too, as has been experienced in a lot of European countries. Coupled with the latest experiences in Asian countries, more specifically India and China, the death penalty could go either way, and probably depends on the way it is carried out and the contingencies of the social structure within which the policy is applied. We should still be wary of being too DP happy, because that’s what’s pushing India to make rape a capital offence fo rexample, the public demands it. This point is too area specific to discuss on this forum, however.

Summing up, in this round we went over the argument of ‘enough is enough’, which lead to a discussion of restorative justice and how it scores above retributional justice in terms of social benefits. Con doesn’t address the futility of death penalty as any form of solace, so that goes unrefuted. The argument of devaluing life was misinterpreted and I showed exactly how not hanging people doesn’t devalue any life, given that death is a natural end. And to many, its not even a punishment. (and again, a reference to how restorative justice would score better that retributional in this regard). Finally, I dropped the slippery slope argument, because it can go either way, and there are too many variables to keep track of if one were to successfully isolate the impact of the policy to the expected future policy.

I look forward to the response by Con. And the addressal of the deterrance argument, which Con mentioned he would argue in the next round.

Over to you :)




Cermank has informed me that she will more than likely be unable to complete this debate. Nevertheless I will go ahead and post the round given that the weekend is around the corner and that she only has one round left to complete, lol, so maybe she may have a couple hours free to finish this one up.


R1) I must emphasize the extreme nature of the resolution. I find many of PRO's points to be centered around the typical PRO/CONs of the death penalty, how its current administration is flawed, and how an emphasis on rehabilitation is preferable over retribution. That's fine and all, and I may very well agree with PRO's assertions to that end...but that does not address the extreme cases that would question whether or not the death penalty is justifiable under ANY circumstance.

a) I've already brought up the case of the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez. Here we have a person who PRO would seek to redeem from his crimes, yet given Ramirez's beliefs, it's far more likely that he found redemption through his murder, rape, and torture of his victims. His childhood, where he suffered from epileptic seizures and was exposed to his brother's war stories and photographs involving raped and decapitated women, would easily point to causal elements as to how and why Ramirez developed the belief system he had (Satanism), where one of the creeds directs a Satanist to kill someone else simply because they bothered them (

Again, such a person probably found redemption through killing...after all, it was his religion. Rehabilitation of such an individual would then involve allowing him to practice his religious beliefs by killing more people...which obviously does not fit with societal goals. Forcing him to renounce his religion would run afoul of several conceptions of freedom, to include the American First Amendment. As PRO herself has stated, "there are things scarier [i.e. worse] than death"...and many people would view losing their religion to be one of those things. Better to just kill him off...he is beyond society's conception of redemption. The judge that ruled his case stated that Ramirez exhibited "cruelty, callousness, and viciousness beyond any human understanding." (

b) Again, we can go much further than the Night Stalker in extremity. Imagine if someone had just annihilated one million people in a city and threatened to do it again in another city. This person was captured by the authorities, escaped within the week, and then carried out his threat. This person then threatened a third city with the same fate, to be carried out within one year's time. The authorities did everything they could, and successfully captured him again. This mass killer escaped yet again, and within one year's time, annihilated the third city. This person makes yet another threat. 3 million people have already died. The authorities are able to capture this criminal, but cannot keep him in a prison for whatever reason. They know that by killing him, they will spare the deaths of one million more people. They know he is guilty. IMHO the question becomes, why didn't the authorities kill him the moment they captured him the first time?

Why wouldn't the death penalty apply in this case? Would you rather risk the destruction of society to uphold some lofty principle that "the death penalty is never justified, under any circumstance"? Who would be left to uphold this principle?

Complete destruction of the society that would seek to redeem such a person is simply far too great a risk to take, so you execute him. Given this scenario, I will redraw PRO's chart:

Incidentally, this scenario describes a war in which a society's way of life is at stake, threatened by an intractible and determined foe. Genocide is a common outcome in warfare. Wars are not all that uncommon. Enemy soldiers are executed all the time, many times without a trial. This is the death penalty under martial law.

This scenario is enough to refute the resolution. I've already made this point in the prior round, and PRO has chosen to ignore it.

R2) PRO makes a puzzling assertion, that "There is no reason to kill the guilty, he’s going to die anyway.What we CAN do is extract all we can from him, to lessen the pain of his existence."

The act of extracting information is conducted at the trial, not during a life sentence. You can extract all you can from the person, and then kill him.

R3) PRO argues that "[the criminal] still needs an adequate punishment." Does the death penalty necessarily need to deal with punishment? No. All that matters is that the death of the accused conveys a net benefit to society, and I have demonstrated at least one case of such with my revised chart.

R4) To go back to the point about deterrence, my chart demonstrates how the execution of someone who intends to destroy the society that seeks to judge it deters the accused from destroying the society. That is enough to justify the death need not serve as a deterrent to would-be society-killing aspirants.

R5) The focus on the possibility of executing the innocent must be weighed through a cost-benefit analysis, without which this point has no validity. If one innocent out of one million guilty is wrongly executed, then this can be judged as a successful policy, as it would have achieved a 99.9999% effectiveness rate, which is better than most standards of quality in any field, profession, or occupation. Nothing is perfect, and I'm fairly certain that PRO acknowledges that we all die, it's just a matter of when.

R6) PRO says that "Con doesn’t address the futility of death penalty as any form of solace, so that goes unrefuted," but PRO doesn't realize that if there's no one around to feel solace (because they've all been killed by the criminal), then her point simply does not matter.

R7) PRO does not explain the assertion in her chart, how a killer can "undo[] some of the wrongs done by him" while in jail. This doesn't make any sense, and PRO does not elaborate what she means here.


- I find that much of PRO's case deals with conventional arguments surrounding the death penalty, but this is not a conventional resolution. It seeks to question the extreme cases, and to ask in those cases whether or not the death penalty is justifiable. I've met burden by demonstrating "yes".

- I'll note again that determining cause for the criminal's actions is irrelevant to the death penalty - it is relevant to the trial.

- PRO has her own case, and I've demonstrated how most if not all of it is irrelevant to the extreme cases I've brought forth:

1) Some people find "redemption" in perpetrating their crimes, not in atoning for them.
2) Some people are such a risk to society alive that matters such as deterring would-be-aspirants, punishing the accused, and providing solace to victims becomes irrelevant to the administration of the death penalty. Survival comes first.
3) All that matters is whether or not the death of the accused benefits society. In extreme cases it does, as it prevents the accused from causing even more harm to society, or even destroying it outright. I've consistently made this point throughout this debate, and PRO's conventional argumentation does not address it.
Debate Round No. 3


So, the last round. I’ll first go over why my argument already addressed the concerns raised by Con and then summarize what went down in the debate and why my argument stands.

Before I begin, as I understand it- the critical difference between me and Con on the issue is our perspective towards the murderer and its impact on society. For him, the murderer was born exogenous to the societal dynamics, the only impact his birth has is when he decides to murder people. For me, the murderer was born *because* of societal dynamics. The murderer developed his murder instincts *because* of something , something that we might or might not know at the present time. Killing him gets us rid of him, but it isn’t the solution- for the situations/ dynamics that gave birth to the murderer might infest again and lead to the birth of another murderer.Its merely a question of time. We can kill the person, sure, but killing him is merely a short term bandaid solution to a problem that we haven’t quite addressed, sometimes a problem we haven’t even detected. THAT is what my solution aims at addressing. You don’t just kill- you try to understand and solve, not because you feel a shread of sympathy for the murderer, but because you owe that to the society.

Now onto my opponents case- in R1, he mentions the Night Stalker case. He goes on to argue that Richard was a Satanist, and that he found redemption through killing. I agree. I further agree with the causal link he estabilished about his unhappy childhood and the views that he developed later in his life. My problem is when we argue that rather than killing the dynamics that cemented those beliefs, we should kill him. In an interview, he said- and I quote, ‘…hypocrites one and all. … those who kill for policy, clandestinely or openly, as do the governments of the world, which kill in the name of God and country or for whatever reason they deem appropriate. I don't need to hear all of society's rationalizations, I've heard them all before and the fact remains that what is, is." He was a product of his circumstances, circumstances that would not be unique to him. We owe it to the society to try and find out where we went wrong, and killing him robs us of a chance to do that. Looking at a murderer and going- ‘He’s crazy, we can’t help him. So we kill him.’ is a disdain to us, and to what we stand for. And a waste of the opportunity we have to address the dynamics of crime. We try getting through him, we try finding out how to stop him, we try finding where exactly the chemicals in his brain malfunctioned and we try developing a prevention to the malady, that’s what we owe to the society. And that’s what’ll actually help.

b) Here Con describes another scenerio, a scenerio describing a person killing a million people and escaping from the jail and killing another million. This again emphasizes on the difference in our approach. The question I’m interested in is *why*. Why does that person want to kill a million people? Because its not just him that’s the threat- the threat we have is the very reason he decided to kill the million. If we address THAT, we address the very root of the crime. We kill him, we just kill a killer, again, a band-aid solution. We can lock him up and stop him from commiting more crimes, addressing the major concern con has.

The problem of escaping from the prison isn’t something that big, given the wide range of physical and medical capital we have. We could very well stop any physical activity and work on his mental state using drugs/ physical restrains/ etc. In this scenario, I believe a much more important issue is to stop the escape of the prisoner, given that the threat of escape is still present in a death penalty- between the sentence and the execution- which can take an average of 15 years. [1] { Note that this is not a new argument, its merely a logical inference, if the state fails to constrict the prisoner, he can escape while waiting for death penalty too, a proper security is a prerequisite for a healthy working DP system}.

The soldiers killing is something I feel is quite outside the purview of the debate, merely because I have moral reservations with killing people for following state orders. I can’t think of many people who’d agree/ find those deaths warranted. But yeah, that’s a whole other can of worms, touching upon state, and the impact of killing soldiers on the health of the state- which I do not think is favorable in the long run, the justification of war and all that, given that I AM a pacifist. (bu word limit, eh)

R2) The extracting information here refers to understanding the reason he became what he was, and trying to understand the underlying cause of it- be it mental, societal or a mix of the two. Addressing the problem and trying to find a solution requires his presence, given that he’d be the guinea pig for the same, of sorts. Killing him hampers us from engaging in the long term study that'd help us solve him, in a sense.

R3 and R4) Pro contends that death penalty leads to the *death*of the accused, and that’s net benefit for the society given the chart- but, as already addressed in R1, its actually not as the threat of escape from prison is similar in DP AND restorative punishment, keeping a person in prison is a prerequisite for both the punishments. Thus, my initial chart stands, which implies Restorative punishment have a net benefit to the society.

R5) This stands, it was a mere reservation I have with DP, not really something that is relevant in this argument- given we are arguing for an extreme case.

R6) Again, on the 3 million killed after prisoner escapes argument- the situation stands even in a death penalty case, given the waiting time between sentence and execution. If a state cannot keep strong security, no punishment is enough/ safe and the people are never safe. A strong security is a prerequisite for any comparison. Comparison between a good death penalty and a bad restorative punishment isn’t really a fair comparison- contingency that the prisoner escapes *only* in the second case makes any valid comparison null.

R7) I'm sorry this wasm't clear. Basically, restorative punishment helps bring closure to a familyby faciliating positive interactions between the victim/ victim family and the guilty. This is within the framework of therapy and scientific/ medical help helping the guilty address the root of his criminal instinct. Note taht we are not arguing for *freedom* of the guilty, we are arguing for restoration of sanity of the guilty, which is a help to society in any case. Respecting the no new arguments in last round clause, I wont drop in studies reaffirming better psychological/ physical/ mental health of victims in a restorative punishment system, but anyone can PM me if they're interested.

Summarizing, we began the debate by making two contentions- the deterrence and the moral argument. The latter had three sub premises, focusing on how it is futile (since it brings no solace to the victims), it devalues life and the slippery slope (which I later dropped, because that was more of a geography specific problem). Con didn’t really address the deterrence impact, other than saying that it *would* lead to the death of the criminal. Which brought us to a cost- benefit analysis, which was the major theme in the third round. It was more of a static vs dynamic analysis, where I argued that even though death penalty DID lead to killing the guilty, that was more of a instant reaction to a problem rather than a solution. Killing him did not help us address the dynamics of his birth, which still prevailed undeterred and unresolved in the social consciousness. Restorative punishment actually addressed this problem, leading to resolution of the crime, rather than a slapdash answer to it. This helped us deter future crime, WHILE simultaneously removing him from the public- leading to a benefit OVER and above death penalty. Thus benefit to the society in a restorative punishment is greater than that of a death penalty, making the use of DP unjustified (going by the definition outlined in R1).

My case strengthened this argument by testing it against the most severe case Con could think of, and I addressed why RP would be better than DP even in a 3 million killed case, most of which was explained in R1. I pointed out how we could still keep him away from the public WHILE simultaneously stopping such murderers from arising in the future. Also pointed out the kink in his logical argument, where he compared an ideal DP with a bad RP case, infusing the latter with a additional contingency not present in the first one- making the cost benefit analysis useless. Thus the initial Cost benefit chart stands, reaffirming my case even in Con’s scenario.

The resolution is affirmed.




This debate is silly. PRO makes various arguments without asking one very simple question - does she exist to ask these questions?

For example:

1) PRO states "The question I’m interested in is *why*." Does she exist to ask the question?

2) PRO states "Restorative punishment actually addressed this problem [of the dynamics that caused the birth of the killer" (PRO apparently believes we are all capable of reliving a second childhood, or having two lives instead of one). Does she exist to be able to address this problem?

I have been very clear as to where I stand with such an extreme resolution - the only question worth asking (and which I asked in the prior round) in regards to the resolution is "Who would be left to uphold this principle?" If no one is left, then this issue cannot be debated and the resolution cannot be upheld.

In cases where the entirety of society and humanity face extinction for whatever reason, and when the only solution is to summarily execute someone, the only question worth asking is "Is society left with any other choice than to summarily execute this person?" This question was inherent in my scenarios but apparently PRO thinks that I have reached some sort of limit when it comes to imagining the "most severe case Con could think of", even though I made it clear in my opening that "I simply ask that audiences imagine the most heinous crime imaginable, and then do whatever it takes to make it even more heinous...and then to do this ad infinitum."

For the purposes of this resolution, there is no limit to severity of the crime.

Threatened with human extinction for whatever reason, the only question to ask is "Is humanity's existence justifiable"? If the answer is yes, then we will kill anyone that threatens humanity's existence. Killing anyone, even without a trial, is the death penalty. Pertaining to the round #1 definition of "death penalty", one can be convicted in a "court" without a trial. One can be convicted of a "court" of one person with no audience.

All this debate entails is asking whether or not there is any reason that exists to justify killing a person. Go straight to the logical conclusion and ask "if humanity was faced with extinction, would you destroy the source of this threat if it was a human being?" The only possible way to answer this question "no" is if you thought that humanity should not exist.

PRO talks about trials, hearings, prisons, deterrence, restoration, etc...none of these are relevant to such cases. A case where summary execution without trial is required due to the exigencies of an extinction event will negate the resolution. I have stated this repeatedly in this debate, and PRO has chosen to ignore the existential question I have brought forth over, and over again.


Admittedly I may not have been as clear as I could have been, as I have brought up other cases that bear some token resemblance to PRO's arguments, but all I have done in this closing is to repeat the existential questions I have asked throughout this debate:

1) When it comes to the death penalty, ""Who would be left to uphold this principle?" (round #3) If no one is left due to failure to execute someone, then obviously executing that person would be preferable to extinction.

2) When "a criminal is beyond redemption and risks not only destroying societal cohesion, but may very well risk destroying ALL of the people that constitute society itself," when this criminal can escape any prison, cannot be interrogated and cannot be reasoned with, the only question worth asking when it comes to summary execution is "Is society left with any other choice?" (round #2)

3) "I simply ask that audiences imagine the most heinous crime imaginable, and then do whatever it takes to make it even more heinous...and then to do this ad infinitum." (round #2)


My case is very, very simple. Simply ask yourself: in the scenario where all of PRO's arguments could not occur, whether it be restoration, deterrence, interrogation, prison time, trials, sentencing, etc...if all of these could not occur and humanity was faced with extinction unless we killed someone, would we kill that person?

If you value life to any degree, the answer would have to be yes. If you don't value life, you would not be around to ask the question in the first place, so the resolution would still be negated.

All of this is within the parameters of this debate, as its extreme nature forces any argument to this kind of ridiculous logical conclusion.

I have thus negated the resolution. In the extreme circumstance that no one is around to debate the issue because humanity went extinct due to the failure of administering the death penalty, no one can uphold burden of proof for the resolution.

Thank you for reading this debate. Apologies to audiences and to PRO that it took so long for me to cite the ridiculousness of such an extreme resolution. I probably should have led with this closing, but as I said, I don't think about the death penalty very often.
Debate Round No. 4
26 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by rross 7 years ago
If they're being held indefinitely and forcibly experimented on, the unjustice continues, and society is complicit. I suppose that must have it's own consequences. I don't know that it's obviously preferable to the dp.
Posted by Cermank 7 years ago
@rross, no- any punishment decided upon by the judges would be on case by case basis, much like it is in the real world. The locking people up arg was basically a substitute for DP, so if you a have a person being given DP- rather than killing him, you imprison him, and use him to determine the medical/ psychological cause of his existence- and THEN come up with a solution to prevent similar cases.
Posted by wrichcirw 7 years ago
Just to elaborate - simple scenario:

"For instance, suppose someone killed a baby but then was really sorry and science proved she would never do again - should that affect her sentencing? Who cares, right? Because it will never happen."

Let's say the woman was convicted of negligent homicide for leaving her baby in the car on a hot day with the windows rolled up while she went shopping for groceries.

Let's say that science subsequently develops cars with automated climate control that would preclude this kind of death. The woman is thankful and remorseful.
Posted by wrichcirw 7 years ago
Hell, I could attempt to envision things that would happen 1 million years in the future, and if those things are POSSIBLE, then I negate the resolution.

That's how ridiculous the wording of the resolution is, IMHO.
Posted by wrichcirw 7 years ago
"Yes but this is a fantasy scenario. That's my whole point. Your fantasy is relying on certainties and absolutes that could never exist in real life."

Tell someone alive 100 years ago that man would be walking on the moon, and people would be saying the exact same thing you're saying now.

Obviously those people were proven wrong. Genetic analysis is advancing. What I am suggesting may very well happen. It is most certainly POSSIBLE, and that's all I need to talk about for this debate.


"For instance, suppose someone killed a baby but then was really sorry and science proved she would never do again - should that affect her sentencing? Who cares, right? Because it will never happen."

1) It may very well happen.
2) It should affect her sentencing, as it would demonstrate rehabilitation, which is part of what goes into a sentence.
Posted by rross 7 years ago
Yes but this is a fantasy scenario. That's my whole point. Your fantasy is relying on certainties and absolutes that could never exist in real life.

For instance, suppose someone killed a baby but then was really sorry and science proved she would never do again - should that affect her sentencing? Who cares, right? Because it will never happen.
Posted by wrichcirw 7 years ago
You may be interested in reading my debate with sdavio about the trolley dilemma (it was a great debate, IMHO):
Posted by wrichcirw 7 years ago
1. I'm not talking about morality, I'm talking about the practical feasibility of testing every baby in remote villages without nomadic war zones...especially once the word gets out that babies might be killed.

In a developed society, remote villages would be connected with roads and technology. Let's say post-post-modern wars were determined VERY quickly. Let's say that knowledge of biology changed how wars were waged, and humanity began to appreciate the use of prodigious data collection of ourselves, which would probably lead to far fewer wars.

None of this is hard to imagine, IMHO.


Let's say a baby made it out, and society sent out a warrant for this baby. Let's say that what subsequently happened affirmed the scientist's worst incurable epidemic broke out in that particular village. The next step would be to bomb or nuke that village, yes?

So, kill one baby, or nuke a village? This is the trolley dilemma all over again.
Posted by rross 7 years ago
1. I'm not talking about morality, I'm talking about the practical feasibility of testing every baby in remote villages without nomadic war zones...especially once the word gets out that babies might be killed.

2. What? Genetic diseases might be diagnosed in fetuses one day? You're proposing something rather different.
Posted by wrichcirw 7 years ago
"By predicting the future I mean that there's too many variables for even an imaginary all-wise and all-knowledgeable biologist to be sure what effect the baby will have on the rest of the world."

What if we were able to command enough knowledge of biology to make this happen? We are certainly not "all-wise and all knowledgeable" astronomers, but we can make predictions as to what a space mission will do for decades in advance.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by rross 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This was a very readable and interesting debate. I'm not sure who I'd vote for if it was scoring. I found con's final argument unconvincing because of the imagination aspect. What you can imagine and what's within the realm of possibility are two different things. You've used this line of argument in the past: if RAPING A CHILD could save the world then you'd have to do it! etc. But is such a scenario reasonable? I don't think so. For example I could defend the stockpiling of nuclear weapons because it's possible to imagine an invading army of aliens. In other words there has to be some element of likelihood assessment. About Pro's argument. I'm curious about this idea of locking people up for life so that they don't reoffend. Is this just? After all, we are all a danger to others and not all criminals reoffend. If we punish a person in relation to possible future crimes, and that likelihood is assessed statistically on the basis of a category (convicted once) ...comments

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