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Reflections on the Contemporary Society and the Death Penalty

Free Essay Sample «Reflections on the Contemporary Society and the Death Penalty»

A person does not come to this world having answers to all questions. On the contrary, life is a travel among secrets. These secrets are laws of matter, and laws of souls, moral laws. We not always can strictly explain why things should be so, but deep in heart we can feel that love, justice, honesty, etc. attracts us, and we call them the "good" things. However, there are such human features, which we try to avoid and which are called the “bad” things. But we cannot always manage to avoid them, or, more precisely, no one can. Such “bad” things we name as errors. We understand that with such actions we spoil the life to ourselves and to other people. What we have to do when such someone acts become dangerous to other people? To save public order humanity has thought up laws, which find a respective punishment to each fault. Thus, when fault become an extremely big, as a consequence, it will be extremely big punishment. The biggest one is the death penalty. Mankind discusses till now, whether a person can deprive the life of the other person. However, the answer is intuitively clear to us: no, cannot, because a person should not feel himself like God.

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For objection against justice of execution of the death sentence, it is possible to put forward a number of arguments. The first and the most important consist in that the death penalty falls outside the allowed limits of a human. The first and the most important consists in that that the death penalty falls outside the limits allowed for the person since his authority cannot be extended on life of other people. A person can intuitively feel borders of applicability of his logic and laws. Life is not own merit of a human, but always a gift. Therefore, in this dilemma an essential part of mankind choose to be against the death penalty. The latter humiliates advantage of a person as does not recognize behind him possibility of repentance. One more problem is that human court is not faultless. Therefore, the condemned should have the right to revision of a decision. However, condemned on the death penalty have no such possibility, and then what we have to do if he is innocence? Finally, one more argument against the capital punishment is possible to call as the statement about immorality of execution: How could a moral society condemn immoral actions of a person by immoral methods? Mankind should not interfere with affairs of God. Otherwise, it will cause just a new immorality and unfairness.

Those who protect death penalty are guided by following rules: “The moral justification of punishment is not vengeance but desert“(Bedau, p. 57), and “The retributivists holds three positions: (1) that all the guilty deserve to be punished (2) that only the guilty deserve to be punished (3) that the guilty deserve to be punished in proportion to the severity of their crime” (Bedau, p. 56). One can easily make the conclusion that these citations are actually just paraphrasing of Old Testament Law: an eye for an eye, in which they see the unique formula of the fair judging. This law in essence is very natural, and, probably, it is one of those which operate in a person at subconsciousness level. Those who refuse to use this law often should expel it from their mnd with great efforts of will. Though it transforms the person on the heartless judge, however it can be the practical way to keep social order and morality. Notable problem of such approach of judging is that mercy cannot be permitted. However, it is difficult to name as ideal one that society where there is no revenge, but mercy is not also allowed. However, such way of judging is supported also by adherents of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is an ethical conception which claims that only those actions should be done which lead to the greatest well-being. Since someone's death undoubtedly can be the way of achievement of this purpose, the death penalty for utilitarians is quite admissible punishment. Their logic is following: If any person is dangerous to a society, the common good consist in his full isolation. But, as nobody can guarantee that he cannot escape a prison, thus the most reliable way to keep this person away from a society is the deadly execution. Besides, from utilitarians point of view death the latter has also a preventive value in intimidation of potential criminals. Thus, at first sight it can seem that to the number of those who support the death penalty it is possible to accept only cruel, malicious and heartless people, who probably would be criminals as well if they were not kept by fear to be punished. However, as it was proved, they are people with a philosophical sight at a problem, which are motivated by logic reasons, instead of the veiled inclination to cruelty.

When someone is talking about the contemporary society, he usually means the society where inculcation of humanism, care and defense of human rights are the most important priorities. Such interests are considered as necessary conditions for transition of a human civilization to the higher step of society's development where there is no violence, wars, and famines. However, is it indeed so? We need to ask ourselves whether our representation of the modern society is completely correct. Is it really the case that value of human life and human rights determine a direction of evolutionary processes, which transforms society into more humaneness and more perfect community? No, this is just a myth. The real situation is completely different. The contemporary society is the capitalistic one. That is why its main priority is not a humaneness but financial enrichment.  Money is the greatest value and the main goal which a human being a part of the society is trying to reach up. Having made the wrong conclusions from scientific and technical revolution of the last century, mankind has fallen into a precipice of moral relativity. Ugly totalitarian systems and awful wars were just a consequence of that degradation. Since that time and till now, with dominating of consumer ideology, mankind is lapsing, because it is the community of consumers for which the prime task is to search for material benefits to satisfy their increasing requirements. Therefore, in behavior of many people it is possible to see unscrupulousness, egoism, and immorality. That is why a lot of them in the literal sense sell the belief, ideals, conscience, and it will be quite fairly to name this venality as soul prostitution. Terrible consequences of the cult of money can be demonstrated with the following example. Let us assume that we have a parson whiich is ill on a deadly-dangerous illness, but thanks to the medicine development this illness can be cured. Nevertheless, it will be the case only if this person will have enough money to pay for his/her curing. Otherwise, he/she will die. If a human life was really the highest value in our society, this person would not be lost, even if he/she does not have enough money for a medical treatment. Furthermore, one can ask the question: Is it possible to understand this situation as a version of the death penalty applied to an innocent person? It is also necessary to pay attention to another problem. The death penalty is a supreme punishment, which is used only in case of especially serious crimes. However, the latter, as well as other things in nature, has their own reasons of committal. In many cases in order to find these reasons we should investigate a criminal’s childhood.  Every society begins with family. The cult of money destroys family and causes great losses in humanity scale. Future and internal world of a child depends on upbringing which he/she receives from parents. Family is responsible for the formation of values system and character of a child. Its primary goal is to replenish a society with a new physically and psychically healthy person. Non-fulfillment of parental duties to give to a child love, care, attention, and kindness is a delayed-action bomb, which consequences can be catastrophic. At the same time, moral relativism of parents, as one more consequence of the cult of money, can be the reason of absence in the world outlook of their children of accurate criteria of estimation of correctness or incorrectness of acts, and can lead to destruction of family as well. Moral irresponsibility is the reason why family ceases to be one of the greatest human values, ceases to be a place of love, understanding, peace, trust, and instead of turns into something temporary and insignificant. Divorce of parents can be a source of complicated psychological traumas of their children with unforeseen consequences. Thus, despite that we have spoken about the modern society as about humane community with high ideals and rich historical experience, it nevertheless seems to be very far from ideal one, where the person and his life would be really the highest value. That is why it is not a savageness to speak about expediency or inexpediency of the death penalty today. On the contrary, this discussion shows how much the society is still imperfective. If society will be protect the death penalty as a necessary victim for achievement of the general good, we will live in an inhumane community.

Relation of mankind to the death penalty probably never will be unequivocal. Depth of a moral problem is so great that it leaves far beyond those problems where it is easily to find an agreement. Those who justify the death penalty will be further use utilitarianism as very favorable way to accept a necessary victim in purpose to achieve common happiness. Those who reject the death penalty will hope that it will be used by their opponents only in extreme cases because of complexity of the problem. Though with cancellation of the death sentence, humanity undoubtedly would win, because having learnt how to distinguish humans and Gods affairs, it will become wiser.

Free Essay Sample «Reflections on the Contemporary Society and the Death Penalty»


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