The Death Penalty: A Debate

By Ernest Van Den Haag; John P. Conrad | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
Popular Arguments

ERNEST VAN DEN HAAG

Consider now some perpetually popular arguments against the death penalty.


Barbarization

The argument concerning barbarization received its most incisive formulation from Cesare Bonesana, Marchese di Beccaria, in his Dei Delitti e delle Pene ("Of Crimes and Punishments," 1764), a short but influential treatise to which, when it was translated into French, Voltaire added a commentary.

Beccaria wrote: "Laws which punish homicide ... commit murder themselves" by imposing the death penalty. The laws thereby give "an example of barbarity." Beccaria advocated life imprisonment (which meant lifelong imprisonment then) for murder because "the death of a criminal is ... a less efficacious method of deterring others than the continued example of man ... as a beast of burden [in] perpetual slavery ... in chains and fetters, in an iron cage..." These conditions of imprisonment would not be tolerated today. It is hard to see wherein Beccaria's life imprisonment would be less barbaric than the death penalty. I should think it more so. At any rate, Beccaria's argument that lifelong imprisonment is more deterrent than execution is ignored today.

However, Beccaria's objection to the death penalty as "murder" still is repeated by abolitionists, who like to refer to execution as "legalized murder." That phrase is oxymoronic (the adjective contradicts the noun it qualifies). Murder is the unlawful taking of an innocent life. Executions, being

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The Death Penalty: A Debate
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Foreword v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents xiii
  • Introduction - Before the Killing Stopped 1
  • Introduction - Death but Not Torture 13
  • Chapter 1 - The Retributivist's Case against Capital Punishment 17
  • John P. Conrad 17
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 28
  • John P. Conrad 36
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 43
  • John P. Conrad 45
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 52
  • Chapter 2 - The Purpose of Punishment 53
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 53
  • John P. Conrad 57
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 61
  • John P. Conrad 62
  • Chapter 3 - The Deterrent Effect of the Death Penalty 63
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 63
  • John P. Conrad 66
  • Chapter 4 - More on the Deterrent Effect of the Death Penalty 67
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 67
  • John P. Conrad 70
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 75
  • John P. Conrad 77
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 81
  • John P. Conrad 82
  • Chapter 5 - Does Deterrence Need Capital Punishment? 83
  • John P. Conrad 83
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 95
  • John P. Conrad 102
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 109
  • John P. Conrad 117
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 127
  • Appendix to - Chapter 5 131
  • Chapter 6 - Deterrence, the Death Penalty, and the Data 133
  • John P. Conrad 133
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 142
  • John P. Conrad 144
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 153
  • John P. Conrad 154
  • Chapter 7 - The Constitutional Question 157
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 157
  • John P. Conrad 162
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 180
  • John P. Conrad 184
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 190
  • John P. Conrad 191
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 193
  • John P. Conrad 195
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 198
  • John P. Conrad 199
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 200
  • Appendix to - Chapter 7 201
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 201
  • John P. Conrad 201
  • Chapter 8 - Discrimination and Justice 203
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 203
  • John P. Conrad 207
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 213
  • John P. Conrad 218
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 222
  • Chapter 9 - Justice and Equality 223
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 223
  • John P. Conrad 226
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 229
  • John P. Conrad 230
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 230
  • John P. Conrad 231
  • Chapter 10 - Special Cases 233
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 233
  • John P. Conrad 235
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 240
  • Chapter 11 - Popular Arguments 241
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 241
  • John P. Conrad 248
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 251
  • Chapter 12 - Crimes of Passion 253
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 253
  • John P. Conrad 256
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 256
  • Chapter 13 - Death, Rehabilitation, the Bible, and Human Dignity 257
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 257
  • John P. Conrad 263
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 268
  • John P. Conrad 270
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 271
  • Chapter 14 - The Symbolic Meaning of the Death Penalty 273
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 273
  • John P. Conrad 278
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 281
  • John P. Conrad 282
  • Ernest Van Den Haag 282
  • Appendix to - Chapter 14 283
  • Chapter 15 - The Abolitionist Rests 289
  • Chapter 16 - The Advocate Advocates 297
  • Index 301
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