Igor Primoratz Death Penalty Analysis

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The death penalty is a controversial topic which receives a great deal of criticism from parties on both sides of the argument. Some suggest that it is morally sound on the basis of an eye-for-an-eye ideology, while others argue that its inherent hypocrisy makes the act illegitimate. By examining and analyzing Igor Primoratz’s A Life for a Life and its argument in support of the death penalty, I will attempt to both explain and discredit his argument on the grounds that murder ought not justify murder. Igor Primoratz’s central argument is that there is no equivalent punishment to murder, which is why in cases of murder, the death penalty is justified. Simply imprisoning someone who committed such a heinous crime as murder does not equate …show more content…
He does not respect the decisions of states in that regard, arguing that the death penalty ought to be a universally used punishment. He argues that this is true because murderers need to be punished for what they have done and the death penalty is the only way to adequately give them what they deserve. He argues that while some crimes receive a punishment equivalent to what they have done; petty theft and short-term imprisonment, for example, the top end of the spectrum when lacking the death penalty offers a disproportionately low punishment as compared to the rest of the punishments. That is to say, Primoratz argues, that murderers, relative to other criminals, receive less of a punishment which is not only less of a deterrent, but to some degree an active endorsement of the act as it is known that they will not receive an equally terrible punishment to the crime that they committed. It is morally illogical that murderers receive a lesser sentence than what they actually did when other crimes are not subject to the same …show more content…
For example, in exchange for murder, the criminal justice punishment could offer a life sentence in prison, or community service every day for life or whatever may be decided; but doesn’t need to be reciprocated with murder. Fellow philosopher of the morality of the death penalty Stephen Nathanson would agree with me due to his support of proportional retributivism rather than direct retributivism. This is additionally important and morally sound in that proportional retributivism would allow for different punishments within the framework of a crime; for example, not all murders are charged to the same degree, so rather than a death sentence for all murders, it would consider a lesser sentence for “lesser” murders. If Primoratz were to respond, I would expect him to suggest that, as he already noted, that leaves murder to be the only crime that does not have a sufficient punishment. While this is arguably true, this argument does not argue for the morality of the death penalty. The opposition to this argument is of course that while it may not be a duplicate of the crime, a relatively equivalent punishment is sufficient in both punishing the offender and deterring future criminal acts while concurrently advocating for the preservation of life and removes the contradictions inherent to

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