Aristotle & Mill on Capital Punishment

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Aristotle & Mill’s Opinion on Capital Punishment
Brianna Lelli
Hugh Miller
Paper #2
Topic #4
October 17th 2011

Capital Punishment is a moral controversy in today’s society. It is the judicial execution of criminals judged guilty of capital offenses by the state, or in other words, the death penalty. The first established death penalty laws can date back to the Eighteenth Century B.C. and the ethical debates towards this issue have existed just as long. There is a constant pro-con debate about this issue, and philosophers like Aristotle and Mill have their own take on this controversy as well. Aristotle is against capital punishment, while Mill believes it is morally permissible. Let me start off
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Mill has an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” standpoint. If a person commits a terrible crime, they are nowhere near reaching a desirable end, nor do they have capacity to be virtuous, as Aristotle would say. If somebody is guilty of murder, then life in jail is too mild of a punishment for the crime he committed. It goes the other way around too. If somebody is guilty of theft, then life in jail may be too hard of a punishment for that particular crime. Mill believes the only efficient punishment is one that is exactly equal to the crime. He doesn’t think a murderer should be allowed to live on with the potential to murder again. Another thing Mill focuses on is general responses among a society. He believes the only way to find desirable pleasure is to ask people and get a general response. So if you asked the family of a murder victim what they would like to see happen to the murderer, a probable general response would be to have him sentenced to death as well, and that is exactly what should happen. We know that Aristotle would
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