Evaluate capital punishment on ethical grounds. (200 words)

Evaluate capital punishment on ethical grounds. (200 words)


  • Introduce with meaning of capital punishment.
  • Arguments why capital punishment is seen as ethical
  • Arguments why capital punishment is seen as unethical
  • Conclude accordingly
Model Answer :

Capital punishment or the death penalty is a practice whereby a person is put to death by the force of law as a punishment for a crime. This method of punishment is being followed since a long time. While some states like China and Saudi Arabia use it regularly, others like Nepal and most European countries have completely banned it.

Capital punishment as ethical:

Those who favour the death penalty argue that those who commit heinous crimes like killing a human, forfeit their right to live. Philosophers like Thomas Aquinas have advocated that killing a criminal is a good act because it provides justice to the person killed and as the criminal has already forfeited his natural worthiness to live by killing a person. The death penalty is supported as it is retributive in nature and acts as a deterrence against crimes.

  • Religious sanction facilitates capital punishment on ethical grounds, as seen in countries like Saudi Arabia.
  • In societies like India, capital punishment is seen as ethical and has wide sanction for heinous crimes like rape and terrorism but the law sanctions it only in the rarest of rare cases. It is seen as retributive justice It will act as deterrence and prevent the serious offences in future.

Capital punishment as unethical:

Those who are against the death penalty argue that human life have intrinsic value and everyone have inalienable right to live. The deterrence is the wrong concept, it undermines human dignity, and has a scope of unfair application. In Gandhiji’s words, an eye for an eye can makes the whole world blind. Instead of inflicting suffering on human beings for a crime, the punishment should reformatory.

  • Religions like Buddhism and Jainism place great emphasis on non-violence and compassion for all life, and deem capital punishment as unethical.
  • In Europe, there is wide acceptance in society that a man cannot take away the life of another man and capital punishment is unethical.
  • In 2012 UN voting, 110 countries voted in favor of abolition of death penalty, which depicts wide acceptance of capital punishment as unethical.

The view of capital punishment as ethical or unethical varies from society to society. But, with delayed executions seen as violative of the human rights and excessive retribution, there is an increasing opinion towards seeing this method of punishment gone.

Subjects : Ethics – Essence