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Thesis One In principle a case can be made on moral grounds both supporting and opposing capital punishment Thesis two Concretely and in practice compelling arguments against capital punishment can be made on the basis of its actual administration in our society Two different cases can be made One is based on justice and the nature of a moral community This leads to a defense of capital punishment The second is based on love and the nature of an ideal spiritual community This leads to a rejection of capital punishment JUSTICE AND THE NATURE OF MORAL COMMUNITYA central principle of a just society is that every person has an equal right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness Within that framework an argument for capital punishment can be formulated along the following lines some acts are so vile and so destructive of community that they invalidate the right of the perpetrator to membership and even to life A community founded on moral principles has certain requirements The right to belong to a community is not unconditional The privilege of living and pursuing the good life in society is not absolute It may be negated by behavior that undermines the nature of a moral community The essential basis on which community is built requires each citizen to honor the rightful claims of others The utter and deliberate denial of life and opportunity to others forfeits ones own claim to continued membership in the community whose standards have been so flagrantly violated The preservation of moral community demands that the shattering of the foundation of its existence must be taken with utmost seriousness The preciousness of life in a moral community must be so highly honored that those who do not honor the life of others make null and void their own right to membership Those who violate the personhood of others especially if this is done persistently as a habit must pay the ultimate penalty
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