The Morality of the Death Penalty
Webcast Q&A: 22 January 2012, Question 2
I answered a question on the morality of the death penalty on 22 January 2012. You can listen to or download the podcast of just this question below – or check out the whole episode of Philosophy in Action Radio.
Is the death penalty moral? I understand why people are opposed to the death penalty when there might be genuine doubt as to whether the accused person really committed the crime. Certainly, we've seen cases where DNA evidence has exonerated someone who was convicted several years ago for a crime they didn't actually commit. But if someone confesses to first degree murder and if there's incontrovertible physical evidence to confirm their guilt, is the death penalty then appropriate?
My Answer, In Brief: To impose the death penalty for murder (and perhaps other heinous crimes) is morally proper, if the possibility of error in the criminal conviction can be eliminated. To eliminate not just "reasonable doubt" but also any "residual doubt" can be used to distinguish cases in which such errors have been excluded.
- Duration: 29:55
- Download: MP3 Segment (10.3 MB)
To save the file to your computer, right-click and save the link above. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
- "What is the Objectivist stand on capital punishment?" by Nathaniel Branden, The Objectivist Newsletter, January 1963
- Ayn Rand's Theory of Rights: The Moral Foundation of a Free Society by Craig Biddle, Footnote 46
- NoodleFood: Principled Punishment and the Death Penalty by Greg Perkins
- Philosophy in Action: Police Lying to Suspects
- Innocence Project
- A (Genuinely) Modest Proposal Concerning the Death Penalty by Craig M. Bradley, Indiana Law Journal
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.
From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.
My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.
I can be reached via e-mail to email@example.com.