This chapter examines the issue of death in relation to capital punishment in homicide cases. It argues that there are indeed good reasons to adopt a death-penalty system for homicide according to the most plausible version of retributive thinking. The chapter also explains that the death penalty can save the lives of potential victims, can spare some people from becoming murderers, and can save the lives of patients in vital need of organs. It furthermore compares the deterrent effect of the death penalty and long terms in prison.
Previous accounts of ‘causation’ in the law are flawed by their failure to appreciate that causal language is used to express different information about the world. Because causal terms have been used to communicate answers to different questions, any philosophical search for a free-standing account of causation is doomed. Lawyers require precision of terminology, so they should explicitly choose just one interrogation to underlie causal usage in law. It is argued that this interrogation should be chosen to serve the wide projects of the law. In these projects the law is interested to identify when a specified factor was ‘involved’ in the existence of a particular phenomenon, where the notion of ‘involvement’ identifies a contrast between the actual world and some specified hypothetical world from which we exclude (at least) that specified factor: this contrast being that, while in the former world the phenomenon exists, in the latter it does not. (Such contrasts of necessity can be generated in three ways, all of importance to the law.)