House, Ron (2007) The death penalty and the principle of goodness. In: The 2007 Conference of the Australasian Association of Philosophy (AAP 2007), 1-6 July 2007, Armidale, NSW, Australia.
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Official URL: http://www.une.edu.au/philosophy/AAP07/
[Abstract]: This paper examines the death penalty question from the perspective of the new ethical theory, the Principle of Goodness. At first sight, the Principle seems to be a strictly tighter moral principle than Kant’s categorical imperative; yet we find that the application diverges from the recommendations of Kant in this case. Unlike many discussions of this question, which often argue either no, or yes with a discussion of which crimes are ‘bad enough’ to deserve the penalty, we find that the ethical guidance from this Principle allows one to either argue for no death penalty, or for a death penalty, the conditions for its application being remarkably clear compared with much contemporary and historical argument. It will be assumed that the reader is familiar with a range of existing argument on the topic, and the paper will develop its own theme with contrast where necessary against Kant’s principles and utilitarian-style arguments.
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