Capital Punishment in 'Dead Man Walking'

Capital Punishment in
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The film “Dead Man Walking” depicts the appeal process faced by a convicted murderer, and how his crime, trial and acts on death row affect himself, a nun who is working with him on his appeal, and the families of the victims. It invokes some of the hardest and most troubling questions facing society today such as: does the state have the right to kill its own citizens?


Even more surprisingly, all three philosophers justify their defence of capital punishment through three amazingly different theoretical frameworks, all coming to the same conclusion through very different means. All three philosophers, however, have serious flaws in their arguments for capital punishment (especially when considered in today’s society) and strong arguments against capital punishment can still be made. This essay will critically examine cases such as those in the film “Dead Man Walking” through the lens of Kant, Mill’s and Aristotle’s ethical philosophies. This case can serve as something of a testing ground for when capital punishment would be the most justified. In “Dead Man Walking” the main character, Matthew Poncelet, murders two people in cold blood, with malicious intent, and for the vast majority of the film shows no measure of remorse. Furthermore, he is an unsympathetic character generally, espousing sexist opinions and seems generally just to be an evil, uncaring human being until the film’s final scene. ...
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