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Issues Surrounding Punishment

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Punishing individuals for wrongdoing is an ethical issue that is still current in modern day society. It can be argued that we need punishment for various different reasons. Without punishment, crimes would not be illegal and it would be hard to differ between what is right and what is morally wrong. Punishment highlights the need to focus on the consequences of our actions and show us what could happen if we go against the law. Punishment has the ability to make criminals better individuals through deterrence and rehabilitation. It also allows people to have better social cohesion and benefits society as a whole. Many philosophers, including Hobbes and Mill share these views. Within Leviathan, Hobbes defines punishment as An evil inflicted…show more content…
It does not seem fair to punish someone for something that was out of his or her control. If the suspect did not intend to commit the crime, they can be regarded as innocent. The suspect could have lived a perfectly good, moral life, where they attended church and regularly gave to charity, but one-day luck was not on their side. Life is unpredictable and we never know what is around the corner. In cases like this, it seems unnecessary to punish individuals for wrongdoing. Additionally, there are many ethical issues surrounding punishment. Various people may question whether it is morally correct for the government to use the law to inflict punishment on its citizens. This is the case for abolitionist theories, which believe we should aim to replace punishment with restorative justice rather than justify it or reform it. The majority of ethical issues surrounding punishment come from the use of the death penalty. Professor Roger Hood proposes four main objections to the use of capital punishment: (1) Capital punishment violates the fundamental right to life; (2) capital punishment is not a unique deterrent; (3) the administration of the death penalty, even in developed legal systems, is inherently and irredeemably flawed; and (4) its effect is counter-productive in that it gives out very confused moral messages. (Hodgkinson and Schabas, 2009,
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