Two distinguished social and political philosophers take opposing positions in this highly engaging work. Louis P. Pojman justifies the practice of execution by appealing to the principle of retribution: we deserve to be rewarded and punished according to the virtue or viciousness of our actions. He asserts that the death penalty does deter some potential murderers and that we risk the lives of innocent people who might otherwise live if we refuse to execute those deserving that punishment. Jeffrey Reiman argues that although the death penalty is a just punishment for murder, we are not morally obliged to execute murderers. Since we lack conclusive evidence that executing murderers is an effective deterrent and because we can foster the advance of civilization by demonstrating our intolerance for cruelty in our unwillingness to kill those who kill others, Reiman concludes that it is good in principle to avoid the death penalty, and bad in practice to impose it.
Jeffrey Reiman is William Fraser McDowell professor of philosophy at American University and the author of Critical Moral Liberalism (Rowman & Littlefield, 1997), The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, Justice and Modern Moral Philosophy, and In Defense of Political Philosophy. Louis P. Pojman is professor of philosophy at the United States Military Academy. He has been a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Copenhagen and is an active environmentalist. He is the author of several books, including The Logic of Subjectivity, Religious Belief and the Will; Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong, and Life and Death: Grappling with the Moral Dilemmas of Our Time.
Chapter 1 For the Death Penalty Chapter 2 Why the Death Penalty Should Be Abolished in America Chapter 3 Reply to Jeffrey Reiman Chapter 4 Reply to Louis P. Pojman Chapter 5 Index