Category Archives: Conceits

The Death Penalty, The Economic Argument

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This is the fourth (and final) part of a series, dealing with topics are normally informed by a religious point-of-view, but have somehow managed to leak into some secular world-views. They’ll be collected together under the arrogantly-titled ‘Conceits’ tag.

I’ve dealt with The Deterrence Effect in Part 1 and Part 2 of this sub-series, and I also laid out my Philosophical committments there too.

Now to build up the arguments in favour of the death penalty, we have to imagine a more-perfect world than the one we currently live in: a world with no false-positives. That is to say that no innocent people are wrongly convicted. Of coursethis is a fantasy world, that will never exist. The point here is to eliminate all the practical problems that pro-death folk handwave away when making their arguments. I’m prepared to grant all the handwaving, because they still don’t have a solid argument in favour of their position. This also means (and I apologise in advance) ignoring how the death penalty disproportionally affects people of colour. We are going to fantasy-land, where (somehow?) all of this has been resolved (because revenge-fantasies are always idealised, but hey, I’m not going to speculate on the psychology of people who put these arguments forward).

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The Death Penalty, Deterrence in Practice

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In Part 1 of this series, I dealt with the plausibility of the model in favour of Deterrence. But let’s forget all about that for a moment. Let’s put aside all the science behind our decision processes, how the human brain works, and all of that stuff. Like Deterrence-advocates, let’s pretend that science hasn’t moved since, I don’t know, the early 1900s.

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The Death Penalty, Deterrence in Principle

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This is going to be the first part of a four-part series on the death penalty, There are two main arguments trotted out in favour, both of which I feel fail to be convincing. I’ll get to them, but first I need to sketch out some philosophical/ethical commitments. It helps to get these out of the way, as if you disagree with these commitments, it helps identify where we diverge in the argument.

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