INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy. Continuing to use this website is acceptance of these cookies.

Capital punishment and war

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
Post Reply
Message
Author
Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9294
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Capital punishment and war

#1 Post by Maria Mac » October 17th, 2007, 8:42 pm

If I am opposed to the restoration of the death penalty because of the possibility of wrongful conviction and someone innocent being executed, to be consistent should I also be opposed to all war because of the possibility of innocent people being killed?

It has been suggested elsewhere that I should be but I'm not sure.

User avatar
Alan C.
Posts: 10356
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 3:35 pm

#2 Post by Alan C. » October 17th, 2007, 9:27 pm

I can condone war as a self defence mechanism, if someone is trying to kill me I would try and kill them first. I can not condone the "pre-emptive strike" course of action. I think the Falklands war was justified, but not the current war in Iraq, or Afghanistan.
I am not against capitol punishment in certain cases, cases where there can be no doubt as to the guilt of the offender, (there are some.........dare I say plenty?).
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

User avatar
whitecraw
Banned
Posts: 233
Joined: July 10th, 2007, 12:18 am

#3 Post by whitecraw » October 17th, 2007, 11:25 pm

I'm agin the restoration of capital punishment because, as Dostoyevsky pointed out, 'hanging's too good for them'.

I'm also agin war. But... there you go... Shit happens.

Noggin
Posts: 497
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 11:48 am

#4 Post by Noggin » October 18th, 2007, 2:24 pm

If a war is a means to an end that benefits many, such as defending a country from invaders, the liberation of a country from an oppressive regime, or to find wmds before they can be deployed then the war is (arguably) justifiable because even though lives will be lost, a far greater number of lives will be saved or freedom will be preserved/regained.

I don't see any justification for capital punishment beyond, well, punishment.
It is the still and silent sea that drowns a man. -- Old Norse Proverb

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: Capital punishment and war

#5 Post by Nick » October 18th, 2007, 5:21 pm

Maria wrote:If I am opposed to the restoration of the death penalty because of the possibility of wrongful conviction and someone innocent being executed, to be consistent should I also be opposed to all war because of the possibility of innocent people being killed?

It has been suggested elsewhere that I should be but I'm not sure.
I am against capital punishment for a variety of moral and practical reasons. But there are occasions where warfare is (IMO) justified. It seems to me that the key difference is this:

Capital punishment occurs by deliberate act of the state. The prisoner is executed because it has been decided that s/he should be deprived of life. Warfare, on the other hand, occurs when there is no (perceived) way in which the dispute can be solved without physical force. Soldiers and civilians die as a result of that force and is always to be regretted, but the act of killing a prisoner and the act of killing in combat are distinct.

A direct comparison would be the treatment of prisoners of war. Under the Geneva Convention (as I understand it, from 'Colditz' and such like, so no expertise should be inferred), it is to kill a prisoner, even if he is know to have killed combatants. The exception occurs where he is deemed to be the instigator of the conflict itself, hence the executions following the Nuremberg trials.

User avatar
Curtains
Posts: 88
Joined: July 8th, 2007, 3:51 pm

Re: Capital punishment and war

#6 Post by Curtains » October 18th, 2007, 8:36 pm

I agree with your posts, Noggin and Nick.
Nick wrote: Under the Geneva Convention (as I understand it, from 'Colditz' and such like, so no expertise should be inferred), it is to kill a prisoner, even if he is know to have killed combatants. The exception occurs where he is deemed to be the instigator of the conflict itself, hence the executions following the Nuremberg trials.
What is the missing word? Illegal?

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

#7 Post by Nick » October 18th, 2007, 9:03 pm

Quite so, Curtains! I can't remember the precise word I had in mind, but the sense was " not permitted"

Hope that explains it :grin:

Lord Muck oGentry
Posts: 633
Joined: September 1st, 2007, 3:48 pm

Re: Capital punishment and war

#8 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » October 19th, 2007, 12:20 am

Maria wrote:If I am opposed to the restoration of the death penalty because of the possibility of wrongful conviction and someone innocent being executed, to be consistent should I also be opposed to all war because of the possibility of innocent people being killed?

It has been suggested elsewhere that I should be but I'm not sure.
I can't see how the argument that has been put to you is supposed to work, unless the discussion is confined to artificially crude moral thinking.

One possible reply is:

1. In a purely defensive war, I have the right to preserve my life by the only means possible, even if in so doing I endanger innocents other than myself, and

2. I oppose the death penalty because it endangers innocents without being the only means by which I can preserve my life.


No inconsistency there, as far as I can see.

User avatar
jaywhat
Posts: 15807
Joined: July 5th, 2007, 5:53 pm

#9 Post by jaywhat » October 19th, 2007, 6:50 am

Capital punishment is wrong because it is the deliberate killing of a person and this is merely following the biblical 'eye for an eye' stuff. It also ignores the possibility that they did not do it. It also degrades humanity and makes me ashamed to be a member of the human race.

I am also against war - but I guess you could in theory have a war in which no one got killed.

Anyway, if we do not want anyone to get killed we should make roads and vehicles and playgrounds and streams and beaches and mountains and sport and peanuts and small toys and scissors and fish bones illegal.

Toohey
Posts: 44
Joined: October 10th, 2007, 9:44 am

#10 Post by Toohey » October 22nd, 2007, 8:28 am

I'm oppossed to war, all wars. As a member of the working class I have truck with any other members of the working class no matter where they reside. Marx said "workers of the world unite" & not to wage war against each other.

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9294
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

#11 Post by Maria Mac » October 23rd, 2007, 11:27 am

I've split subsequent posts off to a new thread: Just war. Sorry, I should have moved Toohey's post too but it's too late now.

I am quoting that part Ted Harvey's post which is relevant to this thread. The whole of his post has been moved to the other thread.
Ted Harvey wrote: Therefore, returning to what I said was a very worthwhile discussion… Maria I think I’m agreeing with several of the posters when I say that the original question is really one of ethics and ethical conduct in addition to a moral one.

As pointed out by someone above, the heinous act of capital punishment is a state (sometimes community) imposed sanction. The state or community takes it upon itself to ‘voluntarily’ impose capital punishment as a ‘solution’… yet, the state or community cannot 100% ensure that innocents will not be killed. In fact I have listened to judicial-philosophical arguments that you cannot ever 100% ‘prove’ a person was guilty of anything for certain… a further (albeit very obtuse) argument against capital punishment?

So, the State takes it upon itself to accept that innocents will die because of a system that it and it alone imposes voluntarily - moreover they will die because of mistakes on the part of the State sponsored system.

On the other hand, a war of survival, say an unprovoked attack on you by another State or community, can mean that a military response is the only option; unless you can consider annihilation for you, your family and your entire community is a viable option. Some pacifists will accept that final option rather than war; that to me personally demonstrates the limits and failings of pacifism – it’s ultimately a charter for evil to triumph through immediate force.

In both cases, the issues of ethics and ethical conduct need to come into to play - how can you adopt values and set up and operate policies, procedures etc. that minimize the extent to which your ‘needlessly ‘ cause the death of innocents.

Again here I think that capital punishment losses. You are never in the position where killing a human being is the only option in a premeditated capital punishment system that you have ‘voluntarily’ introduced. In a war of survival, the ethics frame is already cast for you by the aggressor; you can seek to minimize innocent casualties, but they will inevitable occur because of the scenario created for you by an aggressor State.

But of course this is not a charter for justifying all war. Anything short of a war of survival has to be almost certain to fail any test of morality or ethics; in the real hard world we live in I support the attempts to construct the ‘Just War’ frameworks. I do this not to actually ‘justify’ wars so much as to outlaw the unjust ones (i.e. almost every one there has been in modern times).
Thanks, everyone, for your helpful responses. I hope to return to this thread when I have a bit more time.

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9294
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

#12 Post by Maria Mac » October 25th, 2007, 11:03 am

Actually there's not much more to say except that, as a result of your posts, I am convinced that I don't need to oppose all war to be consistent. I like the way Ted puts it.
You are never in the position where killing a human being is the only option in a premeditated capital punishment system that you have ‘voluntarily’ introduced. In a war of survival, the ethics frame is already cast for you by the aggressor; you can seek to minimize innocent casualties, but they will inevitable occur because of the scenario created for you by an aggressor State.
I think jaywhat's point that to avoid loss of innocent life we'd have to be opposed to virtually everything aptly demonstrates the absurdity of the notion that opposing the death penalty means opposing war in every circumstance.

Thanks again.

Post Reply