The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Should the death penalty be legal

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/14/2017 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 834 times Debate No: 105026
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (0)




I wish to start my argument off by saying that I will do three different points, the first on morality, the second on the cost of the death penalty and the third on closer for the family that has been wronged. I also wish to say that will link all my sources in the third round. With that out the way, let's begin.

We reserve the death penalty in the world for the most heinous murders and the most brutal and conscienceless murderers. This is not, as some critics argue, a kind of world-run lottery that randomly chooses an unlucky few for the ultimate penalty from among all those convicted of murder. Rather, the capital punishment system is a filter that selects the worst of the worst. To put in other words, to sentence killers like those described above to less than death would fail to do justice because the penalty - presumably a long period in prison - would be grossly disproportionate to the heinousness of the crime. Prosecutors, jurors, and the loved ones of murder victims understand this essential point. Perhaps most importantly, in its supreme gravity it (being the death penalty) promotes belief in and respect for the majesty of the moral order and for the system of human law that both derives from and supports that moral order.


Given Pro hasn't set forth any framework, I'll make two assumptions - first, that I'll be taking the stance that the death penalty not be legal, second, that I'll put forth only two arguments this round.

I see further that I only have 5000 words, so I'll restrict myself to one point this round and no rebuttal without the right of reply in the final round. My points in this debate will be:

  1. The state's monopoly on force, not morality
  2. The lack of a conceivably effective protocol to determine the death penalty beyond not only a reasonable doubt but beyond any doubt which is necessary for a moral justice system to determine
  3. The excessive power this gives to the state
  4. The necessary focus on rehabilitative justice versus punitive justice and the lack of deterrent offered by the death penalty
First, rebuttal.

Pro's contention on the nature of the death penalty
Pro's essential claim throughout this thread of their argument, such that I can determine it to be is that the death penalty is a very rare punishment - and it seems as if they're right, with only 1450 people [1] being executed since 1976. However, the point being offered here is moot, given that the essential nature of this debate isn't really about whether the death penalty is used frequently or not, it's about two things - first, the morality of the death penalty (with regards to the state, not some misguided understanding of "justice for the victim"), second, the effectiveness of the death penalty with regards to preventing further crime. Therefore, this point is meaningless

Pro's contention on the lack of severity of current sentencing
I find this, as I'm sure the judges of this debate will, entirely meaningless. It's platudinous in the extreme, with nothing guiding it more than a lack of understanding of how severe prisons essentially are, in their restriction of personal freedom to associate and freedom of movement - the core freedoms upon which society rests. More on this later.

Pro's contention on the "majesty of the moral order"
The thrust of this round's arguments will lie essentially on the understanding of the state as a device - to prevent coercive force being used upon others via coercive actions - being the police, the judiciary and the armed forces. Pro attempts to platitude their way into stating that some form of "moral justice is being served" by the use of the death penalty for severe crimes. Nonsense - the state's role is emphatically not as a moral arbitrator, and this is a very dangerous path to go down.

On to my substantative.

The understanding of the state with regards to both the Nozickian theory of a minimal state and social contract theory

The key contention behind the existence of the state is that individuals will voluntarily subject themselves to the rule of law in order to achieve desirable societal outcomes, like not being stabbed. The state then enforces this rule of law through the police, the judiciary and the armed forces. The point here being that it's clear that the state needs to have some form of infringing upon the personal rights of the citizens in order to enforce these laws.

We are then left with two questions here. First, is the state to determine morality? Second, what form of force is proportionate - after all, the state is permitted to use deadly force in the police force.

In answer to the first question, I'd contend that given that citizens willingly subject themselves to inconveniences like taxation in order for the state to enforce the rule of law, and given that those citizens each have different understandings of morality, it's immoral for a state to enforce the opinion of a majority upon a minority and as such the state is not an arbitrator of morality. Therefore, it's immoral for the state to enforce the majority opinion upon a minority based upon nothing more than a mistaken understanding of "moral" behaviour and a point at which morality is so completely violated that it warrants the death penalty.

Furthermore, the state isn't some abstract body - it's people, and people are fallible and as such it's immoral to enforce a non-absolute understanding of morality. More on this later.

Second, we must understand any actions by the state in the context of proportionate force - it's clear that the state is not a moral arbitrator and therefore the state cannot make the distinction between a simple murder and multiple murders, or murders of family members - because no matter how morally repugnant those actions are to us the state cannot make a distinction between those acts and as such has no recourse but to either levy the death penalty upon all murderers (again, more on without a doubt later) - or not levy the death penalty at all. Therefore, it's clear the only logical course of action is to have a state without the death penalty.

Next round I'll talk about the legal issues with this decision and also the possible misuse of state power in this way. Over to Pro.

Debate Round No. 1
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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by PointyDelta 3 years ago
Posted by PointyDelta 3 years ago
Posted by Cute_Pirate 3 years ago
Posted by canis 3 years ago
In the US 5 - xx % of the people put to death commited no crime... And they are tortured to death.. ( can take houres before they can be declared dead).
Posted by NDECD1441 3 years ago
Hear hear. I agree.
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