Does the extensive use of capital punishment for murder mean fewer homicides and violent crime in general? Has a murderer, by committing his crime, forfeited his own right to life? Is it possible for murderers to compensate their victims? These are some of the key questions tackled in this chapter. Here, as in others, we apply each of our three theories to capital punishment, seeing what role, if any, the aforementioned questions play in each theory. If capital punishment has a superior deterrent effect, it gains support from utilitarianism. Deontology recommends capital punishment in one (retributive) version and condemns it in another (Sanctity-of-Life) version, regardless of its deterrent effects. The moral rights theory does not support capital punishment, but according to the theory, people can contract and adopt capital punishment if they see a point in doing so.
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