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date: 20 May 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Understanding and justifying capital punishment need to proceed from within a larger framework that can be and often is left implicit. That framework consists of one's views about punishment generally; only within that context can one adequately face the narrower issues peculiar to understanding and justifying the death penalty. If punishment as such could not be justified, then a fortiori neither could the death penalty. If punishment generally serves certain purposes or functions, then presumably so does the death penalty. Not so conversely, however. The death penalty might not be justified, but that need not put in doubt the justification of punishment in general. The discussion in this article proceeds on two assumptions. First, the general features defining punishment within a legal system will be taken for granted. Secondly, the function and purposes of the death penalty will be assumed to be those shared by punishments generally.

Keywords: capital punishment, death penalty, justification of punishment, legal system, crime prevention, deterrence

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