Summary Of Igor Primoratz's The Ethical Life

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Russ Shafer-Landau provides us with two separate arguments about the death penalty in his academic book The Ethical Life, fundamental readings in ethics and moral problems. In the first argument, Justifying Legal Punishment, Igor Primoratz gives us substantive reasoning that opts favorably toward the necessity of the death penalty. Contrasting Primoratz, Stephen Nathanson, through An Eye for an Eye, provides us with an argument that hopes to show us that capital punishment, like murder, is also immoral and therefore, unjust. By the end of this essay, I intend to show that while capital punishment may not be the easy choice for a consequence and punishment to murder, it is, however, the necessary one. In the excerpt from his book Justifying …show more content…

Shafer-Landau explains to us ‘lex talionis’ as it is the principle that “tells us to treat criminals just as they treated their victims—an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Shafer-Landau 380). Nathanson states the eye for an eye view about capital punishment is not only immoral but illogical. Nathanson makes the argument “to justify using the ‘eye for an eye’ principle to answer our question about murder and the death penalty, we would first have to show that it worked for an entire range of cases; giving acceptable answers to questions about amounts of punishment” (382). According to Nathanson, if we followed the principle of ‘lex talionis,’ we must not only kill murderers, but we must also rape rapists, torture torturers, and kidnap kidnappers. It is argued in this reading that not only would lex talionis-grade punishments be immoral, they would also be illogical. Nathanson continues to argue against capital punishment by arguing not only against the equal punishment principle but also the proportional retributivism view. While Nathanson believes proportional retributivism plays an important role our determination of appropriate punishment for criminals, it does not, however, apply nor aide arguments in favor of the death …show more content…

I am not one to argue that capital punishment is without its flaws, nor am I one to argue that the death penalty is not inherently ugly in its entirety. I simply make the argument that the death penalty, or capital punishment, is a necessary evil. To accomplish this, I will begin by dissecting the arguments made by Stephen Nathanson in An Eye for an Eye. Nathanson states that for some crimes, it would not be considered morally acceptable to provide equal punishment to crimes committed. For example, I listed earlier that if we applied the equal punishment principle flatly across our justice system, it would require us to not only kill murderers, but also rape rapists, torture torturers, and kidnap kidnappers. While it would certainly appear to most of us that we cannot commit these actions upon those who committed them in the first place because it would be immoral, regardless of how Just it may appear. While this is certainly true, what law of morals states that we must apply the equal punishment principle across our entire justice system? Even after presenting this argument, one could still argue against capital punishment by stating that killing a killer is just as immoral as the initial killing. I believe this to be true, as I believe human life to be rather sacred and irreplaceable. However, I also believe in a system of necessary evils. A prime example of this being capital punishment. Providing the

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