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Philosophy of Hugo Bedau and Ernest vd. Haag - Essay Example

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Philosophy of Hugo Bedau and Ernest vd. Haag

Soon he is called to pay for the sins of his nature.
The ultimate punishment for man's heinous crimes has continued to raise differing views in the civilized society. Hugo Bedau upholds the American Civil Liberties Union that "death penalty inherently violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantee of due process of law and the equal protection of the laws". This idea is based on the premise that the state should not usurp the power of taking the lives of human beings especially in a "premeditated and with ceremony" under the guise of law. The punishment of death for a capital offense is frowned upon as too "harsh, freaky and arbitrary" to be constitutionally acceptable. He believes that this form of punishment is still based on the early days of barbarism when other forms of corporal punishment were acceptable. The killing of a person has no place in a civil humane society because it wastes the resources of the courts, the legal counsels, juries and other correctional personnel. Executions impart to the society the unmistakable message that "human life no longer deserves respect and that homicide is legitimate when justified by pragmatic concerns." He has also added: "that threat of severe punishment cannot deter criminals especially ones who are in the drug trade. If however, long term imprisonment is severe enough to cause any rational person not to commit violent crimes.

Bedau also demonstrated that "death penalty violates the constitutional guarantee of the equal protection of the law" as it is applied randomly at best and discriminatorily at worst. He also added that "it is imposed disproportionately upon those whose victims are white, on offenders who are people of color and on the poor and uneducated". He based this argument on the misdistribution of the implementation of the punishment on criminals whose offenses were against white victims because statistics would show that in 2005, of the 60 inmates who were executed, 41 were white and only 19 were black.

Ernest van den Haag, for his part believes that capital punishment likely serves as a deterrent factor to the commission of a crime because of the common fear of death. Criminals, although not scientifically supported have a strong and palpable fear of the capital punishment on its severe form. There are murderers who are not hindered by the threat of imprisonment but death as a finality serves to inflict a sense of foreboding, knowing that after death there is only void. More so, "death penalty certainly deters the murderer who is executed".

He further argues that the abolition of this capital punishment "is prayed upon by pro-life activists like Bedau with the argument that there is misdistribution between the guilty and the innocent." He reasoned out that Bedau's argument of misdistribution of punishment is irrelevant to its justice or morality as "punishments are imposed on the person, not on racial or economic groups". In short, equality in the appropriation of the punishment is less important than justice. The long term imprisonment preferred by pro-life activists is a costly maintenance which cannot inflict the kind of fear that the possibility of death brings. There is a likely chance of escape in prison. In some third world countries, the despicable criminals quite enjoy being afforded food while being ...Show more


Man is by nature good as expressed by John Locke's Tabula Rasa Theory that: "the mind of an individual human being is born blank and that their identity is defined entirely by events after birth". Yet, as man journeys through self-discovery he begins to experience the desire to see the unexpected outcome of his deeds…
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Philosophy of Hugo Bedau and Ernest vd. Haag essay example
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