The Morality of the Death Penalty
Webcast Q&A: Sunday, 22 January 2012, Question 2
In the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on 22 January 2012, I answered a question on the morality of the death penalty.
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.
- Download: MP3 Segment
- Duration: 29:55
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- "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 Radio
I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My dissertation defended moral responsibility and moral judgment against the doubts raised by Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."
My radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer four meaty questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Wednesday evenings, I interview an expert guest about a topic of practical importance.
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