Ernest Van Den Haag Capital Punishment Analysis

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The death penalty is the most severe form of current legal punishment. The question that is hotly debated is if this form of legal punishment is just and necessary. Hugo Bedau argues that capital punishment is not ethically acceptable. On the other hand, Ernest Van Den Haag argues that this penalty is completely necessary. This paper will summarize both opinions and give two reasons why the death penalty should be abolished, both from a ethical point of view and from a practical perspective.

Van Den Haag argues in defense of the death penalty (Van Den Haag 325). His first defense is against claims that the penalty is not distributed equally (Van Den Haag 326). To answer this objection, he says that the maldistribution of justice does not make the punishment itself immoral. The death penalty itself is just while its distribution is not always fair. He then claims that even those who show statistics to prove racist faults in the distribution of capital punishment fail to present an argument that would warrant abolishing the penalty, since justice is
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Bedau starts by asking four questions. The first is whether the death penalty is a better deterrent than imprisonment. Bedau answers that no studies have shown that the death penalty is a better deterrent. His second question is whether or not the death penalty is racist. Bedau answers that the sentencing has been discriminatory, and therefore racist (Bedau 331). The third question is how many innocent people have been sentenced to death. Bedau concludes that it is impossible to tell; yet he argues that, there definitely have been cases. The fourth question Bedau asks concerns the risk that a convicted felon who is not executed will commit another crime. Bedau answers that this indeed may be a risk. Even if everyone agrees on these facts, however Bedau concludes that they will not agree on a proper policy based on them (Bedau

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