A very common question is, "should there be a death sentence?" I was brought up to defend the opinion that the government cannot do something that it itself considers illegal, unlawful and immoral. Which makes perfect sense, until you put things in perspective.

What is the point of laws and rules in a society? Surely, to make that society functional. Now, with that in mind, wouldn't it be more effective to dispose of criminals of major offenses (For now, let's say, murder, multiple or not) once and for all, eliminating the danger of escape from correctional facilities, and reducing the need for space in said facilities, and so, the need for more staff, which in turn lessens the chance of said staff getting injured, possibly mortally, from said criminals?

Afterall, if you imagine a society where torture, murder and theft is the norm, wouldn't an act of goodwill be considered illegal?

So, with that in mind, the question I want to ask is, should we uphold what is ethical and morally right in our current society and what is accepted as the norm by the majority of the populace, or should we ignore ethical barriers (you can put the word barriers is quotation marks if you like) in favor of what "works best" and what would make society more effective and functional?

  • 1
    There's a lot of material here, but it is not really clear what you are asking. It appears to be a meta-ethical question, about the foundation of ethics from a legal perspective, but I'm not really certain if that's correct. – Michael Dorfman Dec 2 '11 at 16:17
  • Welcome! This is definitely interesting territory but perhaps a bit borderline as framed. Is there any chance we might persuade you to tell us a little bit more about your context and motivations? What might you be studying or reading that makes this an urgent or important theoretical concern? What might you have found out already? What might you be looking for in an explanation of the problem from someone here? – Joseph Weissman Dec 2 '11 at 18:38
  • 1
    MetaEd explains the question better than me :P He's got it – OddCore Dec 2 '11 at 21:17

I understand the question to be: when setting public policy on executions, should we only take into account the effect that executions have on our society's stability, or should we take community standards of morality into account as well?

This is a false dichotomy. If we violate community standards of morality when making public policy, there will be a destabilizing reaction. People will not accept the public policy. Therefore, even when setting public policy purely on the basis of social stability, we will be taking community standards of morality into account.

  • I guess if we lived in a utopian society where literally no one had morals, then it would work. But in modern society, you're right, it would cause an uproar, and defeat the point of trying to have an effective society backbone. – OddCore Dec 2 '11 at 21:26

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.