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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys the landscape of deontological or categorical objections to the practice of capital punishment. The sketch of the various possible approaches fills the vacuum left by the frequent ceding of the moral field by nonreligious opponents of capital punishment. The central requirements of retributivism are that punishment be deserved and proportional to an offender's wrongdoing. Although Kant assumed that death is always a deserved and proportional punishment for the crime of murder, this assumption is vulnerable to attack both at the level of individual culpability and at the level of systemic distribution of death sentences. The discussion also takes up deontological challenges to capital punishment that seem a bit further from retributivism's core commitments to desert and proportionality.

Keywords: capital punishment, morality, retributivism, murder, death sentences, deontological challenges, desert, Immanuel Kant

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