Capital Punishment

Outline and examine the religious and moral arguments used in the case for and against capital punishment.
In order to ensure justice prevails in society, rules or laws are created by the governing authorities so that individual members of society are aware of what is considered to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. To vindicate these rules, punishments are given. One of these types of punishment is retribution, i.e, capital punishment. Capital punishment is a legal process whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. Many states in America sill legalise the death penalty, and as a result, it is topic of much debate and criticism. Society is split between those who agree with the death penalty and those who think it is ethically immoral and wrong.
Wilcockson states that ‘The retributive arguments have a long and ancient history particularly in the West because of the support of biblical and Church traditions.’ Old Testament puts emphasis on revenge. “If anyone injures his neighbour whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured.’ This concept of les talionis was the common procedure in ancient criminal cases and was intended to limit punishment in that it prevented excessive punishment from being inflicted.   In other words the Bible provided the objective evidence to justify the lex talionis which lies at the heart of retribution. Wilcockson notes that ‘punishment is awarded on the grounds that because an offence has been committed, the just desert, religiously, morally and legally, is to act on behalf of God who demands satisfaction with the death of a sinner.’
As an alternative to the biblical objectivity, Kant’s philosophical argument was an attempt to provide a non-metaphysical but transcendental justification for the traditional retributive argument. Kant believed that if justice and righteousness perish, human life would...