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 Post subject: Capital Punishment Purposes
PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 6:26 pm 
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Paladin
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Can capital punishment be assigned purposes in a hierarchy like marriage? The result would be thatt the secondary purposes are subordinate to the primary purpose.

It is commonly mentioned that it’s purposes are to fulfill justice and protect society – but, can one say it’s primary purpose is to serve justice (or conversely protect society)?

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 Post subject: Re: Capital Punishment Purposes
PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:31 am 
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Feser argues, I think rightly, that capital punishment is first and foremost about retribution. Whether or not it is necessary to protect society from dangerous people (and if it were, then that would be another grounds on which to accept it as just), the more fundamental question is whether or not punishment itself is warranted. For if it is not, then capital punishment, being the highest form, would be wrong. But if it is, then it would be immediately obvious that any licit punishment must also fit its crime. And so the murder of a human, being a sin against that human, against the society of which he is a part, against humanity itself, and against God Himself, requires the highest punishment.

I would further point out that punishment by nature is retributive. That's what makes it punishment. Corrective punishment isn't really "punishment" at all. Corrective "punishment" is utilitarian in nature, and as such, "the punishment must fit the crime" isn't at all obvious. As with anything of any kind utilitarian, the real question here would be about efficiency. So if capital punishment were about correction, or even I suggest the protection of society, the most important matter wouldn't be its fitting the crime but rather whether or not the corrective (or protective) measure was the most efficient way to achieve the desired end. That's not at all the case when it comes to retribution, because sometimes, defending or restoring honor is anything but efficient. That's just a general principle of life and is one of the reasons honor is so highly prized.

So to directly answer your question, in my own analysis, I think that the primary end of capital punishment is retributive--that is, it is the service of justice. Subordinate ends would be things like deterrence, protection of society from the same criminal's future activity, saving money against life time sentences (assuming you didn't have the endless appeals processes we do), etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital Punishment Purposes
PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:24 pm 
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Okay, thank you.

I started to think some more, and it seems that if it satisfies justice then this type of justice must be at the very least a pat of natural law. So, if a heinous crime is satisfied by capital punishment, then that demand for satisfaction must come from natural law? If so, then in a clear situation the state must issue a capital punishment because natural law's retributive justice demands it.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital Punishment Purposes
PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:50 pm 
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Yes, I think natural law demands capital punishment. Again, I see that for two reasons:

1. First, I think that natural law demands the very concept of punishment. For those who don't think so, I'd ask if natural law demands justice, and I think that is an obvious yes. So if justice, then punishment seems to easily and obviously follow. And if punishment, then it seems equally obvious that a punishment must fit a crime. So a murderer must be executed (by the state, not an individual, which, again, I think is derived from natural law).

2. Second, I think human beings have a basic need to feel dignified and honored. Therefore, a good and justice society is one that takes seriously dignity and honor (in fact, think of the natural consequences that follow when a society refuses to uphold human dignity or honor as a basic reality). How, then, do we respond--as a society--when someone is dishonored or the most extreme manner? When you murder someone, you are stealing from them their very life as if it were your own. You are claiming an absolute right over them, such that you are now saying that they lack any and all dignity, any and all honor. Murder claims the victim is a mere object to be disposed of at one's own pleasure. How, then, should society respond to such an affront on its honor, on the dignity of one of its own? It's not enough to just reprimand the murderer. If honor or dignity means anything at all, it really does mean that to transgress that honor has real consequences. So to transgress the dignity of life must mean the forfeiture of life. Blood demands blood. To say otherwise is to deny the very meaningfulness (in my opinion) of the notion of "human dignity" or the sacredness of human life. And this is all before we take into account that mankind is created in the image of God.

Having said all that, what I'm unsure about is whether or not capital punishment can be--at least in American society--justly and equitably dispensed. Because it isn't enough for the punishment to be good. It's application has to be good as well. That, to me, is a much thornier question.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital Punishment Purposes
PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 10:25 pm 
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This is what I was thinking as well, I just made logical conclusions based on the existence of justice and then subsequently punishment. There’s some Catholics who are thinking capital punishment is *not* intrinsically evil, but still argue that it is no longer necessary – which to me is even more bizarre then trying to argue it’s flat out intrinsically evil.

theJack wrote:
Yes, I think natural law demands capital punishment. Again, I see that for two reasons:Having said all that, what I'm unsure about is whether or not capital punishment can be--at least in American society--justly and equitably dispensed. Because it isn't enough for the punishment to be good. It's application has to be good as well. That, to me, is a much thornier question.



It definitely seems legitimate to debate certain details in the context of our country. One ting I was thinking is that it would certainly be more prudent to give the criminal at least some time to repent; presenting the Gospel and the sacraments to them with considerable time before execution. I know time between judgment and execution isn't really a problem in this country, I am just adding this lest anyone thinks (not you) that I assume we should immediately execute people after a fair trial.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital Punishment Purposes
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:54 pm 
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Retributive justice is the primary end of all punishment, as even the CCC affirms.

The other ends are all secondary (deterrence, protection of society, medicinal) or even tertiary

One way of seeing the problem with exalting protection of society as the end and measure is an argument ad conclusionem that shows most don't really hold that, but just assert it to deny the death penalty or because confused notions of punishments. Say you have an expert thief, that can break out of any jail or prison within a week, The only way of stopping him and his damage to society is death or mutilation (if you paralyze him, cut off his limbs, what have you). Would it then be just? Most would say no, because those punishments are disproportionate. But if the end is protecting society, or worse the morally bankrupt notion of our society of incapacitation, then it is hard to see why it would not be.

A man was sentenced 50 years to life for stealing some VHS tapes for his daughter. Scalia authored the opinion upholding that wicked sentence. Why? Because of his absolutely perverse view of justice (three strikes and incapacitation) But his logic holds is retributive justice is not the measure, but preventing future crime.

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