Riley (2001) mentioned that the concept of death penalty is justified by one simple principle that the punishment must be roughly apportioned to the severity of the crime committed. He argued that the criminal system of the world is grounded on the principle. Despite the variation in legal systems, in different societies constituting differing punishment, the principle remains universal. Ending a person’s life for committing a crime a society deems heinous does not decrease the level of society into murders, because society is said to have the legitimate power to determine what behaviors are considered right and wrong. Society is also given the legitimate authority to constitute punishment to acts they consider unacceptable to societal standards. Society can establish its own rules and regulations because constitute to how the citizens interact within the sphere. The primary argument that retaliates the principle is that people may be victims of execution without committing any crimes. Some countries are still unstable in terms of justice system. Some of the people may lose their lives due to an erroneous verdict. It is uncommon for people to be proven guilty despite committing no actual crime because pieces of evidence can be manipulated and not mention good lawyers is hired depending the financial capability of the person. The subject of the death penalty is still subject to many moral debates due to the complexity of the topic, human rights of both the victim and the suspect are put into consideration. The justice system must be well established in order to assure that justice will be served the right way and that no person will die because of a wrong interpretation.
According to the article by Stephen Nathanson, the concept of death penalty lies in two basic arguments (1) it is the best deterrent of murders, therefore, saves people’s lives (2) it is the punishment that requires for murder. Nathanson argued that, in order for the death penalty to be consistent to justice, it must establish that people who were sentenced with it deserves to die. But he mentioned that the justice systems are unreliable, he even used the United States as an example. The concept of death penalty is linked with the influence of race in terms of sentencing. Another argument is that the death penalty is not in accordance with respect for the value of human life. Nathanson mentioned that the system can lead to two mistaken judgment. One, is that a person may receive a more severe punishment than another person who belongs to different racial and socioeconomic background. He pointed that the justice may be selective in some instance. Another reason he mentioned is that the access to legal services may also play a factor because innocent people may be charged guiltily because of the ability of his or her lawyer. The main argument that contradicts to the claim is that how can cases of murder or other heinous crimes stop if people have no punishment to fear. People are becoming bolder and braver in the crimes they are committing. If there is no law or punishment to serve as the government’s threat to people who desire to commit crimes, how can it be eradicated? Families of the victims will also be at the losing end because their family member is still dead while the perpetrator is still walking and breathing, and at times without remorse for what he or she has committed.
Peter Kreeft argues that life begins at conception, which is why he believes that an abortion is clear-cut evil. He mentioned that the personhood of the fetus is crucial in the ongoing debate regarding abortion. A fetus is a biological human and a genetically human. However, arguments regarding the claim that life begins at conception is the term being ‘human.’ An early product of conception, the zygote, does not possess the ability to perform activities that constitute to personhood such as reasoning, choosing and communicating. The zygote is a single cell and not a human being. However Kreeft argued that basing personhood on the sole basis of function is wrong because human development is both the product of his or her nature and society’s nurture. The baby does not come out of his or her mother’s womb with the distinct ability to speak; he or she needs time to learn how to communicate. Therefore, basing personhood to function is wrong because it limits the definition of a human being to mere functions that he or she can learn as time progresses.
According to Margaret Little, a woman is responsible for the existence of the fetus, but the circumstance regarding keeping the fetus is a different story. Abortion is said to be justified for medical cases, especially when the pregnancy may bring health problems to the mother. Another is that the abortion is also argued as a permissible option for rape victims, because the fetus may serve as a constant reminder to the mother as to what she traumatically experienced. It is also not good on the part of the child, because he or she is stigmatize as a product of a crime and an unwanted child. Little explains the concept of norms of responsible creation as it is irresponsible to have sex without birth controls when the parties involved are aware that they are highly fertile and that birth controls are accessible. But she argues that if a woman irresponsibly got pregnant, that does not tie her to the responsibility of giving birth. Little further forcing a woman to give birth is violating her values and ideals in life. Abortion is not a decision to destroy but the refusal to create. The argument regarding is that where does the sense of responsibility of people lies? If they have unprotected sex, is it not the decision of the individuals involved, and as a result, they must take responsibility for the product of their actions. Is it morally acceptable for an innocent life to pay the consequences of his or her parent’s actions? The answer maybe situation, but individuals must still possess a sense of responsibility; even if their body is their own they must understand the possible consequences of their drastic decisions.
Nathanson S, Why we should put death penalty to rest.
Kreeft P. Human Personhood starts at conception.
Little M. Abortion and the margins of personhood