Sunday, May 10

thoughts on killing people

Many practical objections to the death penalty for particularly heinous actions might be answered if the authorities and the general public alike could know with certainty that the accused were guilty. In practical terms, this is insufficient. Even a single justified execution might well be too costly, because it offers a precedent for and legitimation of the state's option to kill. Every state is corruptible, fallible, and subject to countless perverse incentives.

Practices which depend for their acceptability on the legitimacy of the power of the state should be subject to intense scrutiny. None more so than the execution of the death penalty and the prosecution of war.

Those who profess to favor both the death penalty and limited government as a general principle are usually expressing a contradiction.

It's possible to believe honestly and without contradiction that punitive killings should be encouraged outside of a framework like the rule of law. It's not especially easy to defend this view as a universal principle on historical grounds.