The Purgative Rationale for Capital Punishment

Matthew H. Kramer

in The Ethics of Capital Punishment

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199642182
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732188 | DOI:
The Purgative Rationale for Capital Punishment

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This pivotal chapter makes the positive case for the institution of capital punishment, after the preceding chapters have rejected all the standardly propounded rationales for that institution. The chapter presents a theory of evil, and it then presents a theory of defilement. It maintains that the continued existence of an especially heinous criminal can defile the whole community in which he or she abides. Capital punishment is salutary -- in a very limited range of cases -- as a means of purging the defilement from the community. Although this purgative rationale for capital punishment is saliently present in the Bible (and also in ancient Greek thought), this chapter's elaboration of it is unremittingly secular.

Keywords: evil; defilement; purgation; Bible; Greek thought

Chapter.  46504 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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