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Utilitarianism And The Death Penalty

The utilitarian is a theory of whether human actions are right or wrong

depending on if the action delivers positive or negative consequences for the

people that are affected by it. The issue of capital punishment is one that is

highly debated. People all over the world constantly examine whether or not

this action is morally just. It is extremely difficult to produce an opinion on the

matter unless you look at every aspect of the practice. The utilitarian attempts

to look for an outcome that would be most positive for everyone involved.

The fact is though, utilitarianism is the greatest overall positive consequences.

this could mean that someone may not have favorable consequences:

"Since the greatest good for the greatest number is described in aggregate terms, that good may be achieved under conditions that are harmful to some, so long as that harm is balanced by a greater good." (Kay, 1997)

In one aspect, the utilitarian would not oppose the death penalty, if it is looked

at in a certain way. If a man is convicted of a savage murder of two children,

brother and sister, the family of the children would possibly pursue the death

penalty. If this was the case, it would likely give the family a positive resolution

to the situation. Although it would be harmful to the murderer, a greater good

would, in fact, balance the consequences. However, some believe that it is

extremely difficult to determine how a situation will turn out in the future and it

is possible that the consequences may not be as positive as first believed:

"It is not always clear what the outcome of an action will be, nor is it always possible to determine who will be affected by it. Judging an action by the outcome is therefore hard to do beforehand." (Kay, 1997)

Although in this situation, the outcome is inevitable, it is hard to predict who

will be affected, and the utlitarian will l

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