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Argument: Public calls for capital punishment must be met to uphold justice

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Extended argument and supporting evidence

In societies that will capital punishment in cases of murder, that to rule contrary to this public will is to undermine the public's sense of justice being served, and that this is Deontologically "wrong": This is a Deontological "virtue" argument that assumes that is based on the assumption that a particular society believes that the death penalty is righteous. Indeed, a majority in some publics, such as the American public, do support capital punishment as "just" in cases of murder. Because publics do have a say in determing the meaning of "justice" in their own societies and laws, many argue that a public that wills capital punishment in a certain circumstance, but that is dissapointed by a lesser ruling, develops a sense that justice has not been served. The Deontological "virtue" argument is that a social feeling of such judicial frustration is "wrong" by nature, making capital punishment "right" in circumstances where the public wills it.[1]

  • This also leads to a utilitarian argument presented in a later section that posits that, in such circumstances where a public feels justice has not been served, that the public may feel it is necessary to take justice into their own hands, that a form of vigilante justice and anarchy may ensue, and that this is a reason to enforce capital punishment in societies where the public wills it.

Some argue that if society does not believe that due punishment is given to criminal offenders, through such means as capital punishment, the public may feel obliged to carry out its own forms of vigilante justice:

  • Justice Potter Stewart[2] - "In part, capital punishment is an expression of society's moral outrage at particularly offensive conduct. This function may be unappealing to many, but it is essential in an ordered society that asks its citizens to rely on legal processes rather than self-help to vindicate their wrongs...When people begin to believe that organized society is unwilling or unable to impose upon criminal offenders the punishment they 'deserve,' then there are sown the seeds of anarchy - of self-help, vigilante justice and lynch law."

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