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The Making of Modern Liberalism$
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Alan Ryan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148403

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.001.0001

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The Right to Kill in Cold Blood

The Right to Kill in Cold Blood

Does the Death Penalty Violate Human Rights?

(p.139) 7 The Right to Kill in Cold Blood
The Making of Modern Liberalism

Alan Ryan

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines whether the death penalty violates human rights. It begins with a discussion of the argument that all punishment must be inflicted in cold blood; whatever damage we do to others not in cold blood is not punishment but self-defense or revenge. It asserts that we may inflict whatever punishment is necessary to deter wrongdoing and that the death penalty raises no questions of justice that are different in kind from those raised by other forms of punishment, but that death as contrasted with incarceration may be thought to raise questions about irreversibility that are different in degree. It also considers the claim that a failure of fairness in the criminal justice system makes all punishment suspect. Finally, it tackles the question of how we should discuss the penalty of death by drawing on the views of Joseph de Maistre.

Keywords:   death penalty, human rights, punishment, justice, incarceration, fairness, criminal justice system, Joseph de Maistre

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