Return to the topic you chose in the week three assignment. Articulate a specific dilemma in a situation faced by a particular person based on that topic. The situation can be real or fictional.
Revise and rewrite based on any feedback you received in your previous draft (week three). Reference and discuss any professional code of ethics relevant to your topic such as the AMA code for doctors, the ANA code for nurses, etc. State whether and how your chosen topic involves any conflicts between professional and familial duties or conflicts between loyalty to self and loyalty to a community or nation.
What in your view is the most moral thing for that person to do in that dilemma? Why is that the most moral thing? Use moral values and logical reasoning to justify your answer
Next, apply the following:
Which of those three theories works best ethically speaking? Why that one?
Why do the other two not work or not work as well?
Is it the same as what you said is the most moral thing earlier? Why or why not?
Use the 5 articles from your annotated bibliography to support your answers. (Additional academic scholarly research from the past 5 years can be included as well.)
Include a reference page at the end of your assignment in APA format that includes your bibliography with the annotations removed and any other sources used in your final assignment.
Writing Requirements (APA format)
Running head: MORAL CONTROVERSY 1
Moral Controversy: Capital Punishment
ETCH445N- Principles of Ethics
Professor Daniel Henke
MORAL CONTROVERSY 2
The death penalty, commonly known as capital punishment, is the execution of a criminal
based on his/her criminal act. In many countries the death penalty is legal, but many others
oppose the idea and consider it inhuman. Capital punishment is a high-ranked punishment, and it
is reserved for crimes that are extremely disturbing and serious, for instance, murder, drug
dealing, mass murder, and terrorist attacks. This topic is a sizzler; it is unsurprising that both
proponents and opponents of capital punishment have large followings. The proponents suggest
that the death penalty has advantages because it can be used to deter criminals by inculcating
dread in their hearts, causing them to quit committing crimes. They believe that taking a person’s
life is an eye for an eye situation; it should be met with the loss of the offenders life. With the
opponents, however, most studies conclude that the death sentence is ineffective because a
substitute punishment can be suggested without acting inhumanly, possible innocence, and even
the financial side of determining if the crime is worth the punishment through trial. A study done
in North Carlina shows that it costs $2.16 million more to sentence someone to execution that it
does for them to serve life in prison (Walter, 2019). Two theories that have extreme viewpoints
about capital punishment are ethical egoist theory and social contract theory. Based on their
proposed arguments, both theories consider the subject through a different lens.
Ethical egoism is about the satisfaction of one's ego through the agents of moral acts. In
its most extreme form, ethical egoism asserts that one acts properly if and only if it benefits
oneself. The obligation related to ethical egoism is moral, unlike in psychological egoist theory
which is truly self-centered. There are few basic arguments the ethical egoist would present
related to capital punishment. Firstly, it is defended based on the protection of citizens as a moral
obligation. People's safety and welfare are the moral obligations of any nation and society, and
protection of that requires punishments. Putting criminals to death can create a sense of fear
MORAL CONTROVERSY 3
among people and can stop them from committing a crime. If they know that in response to the
killing, they will get killed, they will not kill others in order to protect their life. Secondly, ethical
egoist believes in universal balance. The balance between evil and good can be brought through
capital punishment because it can help to deter crime and violence in society (Skyrms, 2014).
Thirdly, giving justice to the person who is murdered can only be provided by sentencing
the criminal to death. Justice means to treat everyone with equal rights and respect. If a person
gets murdered, the only equal justice for him would be blood. Capital punishment is for the
protection of people and the reduction of crimes. For instance, a criminal involved in drugs and
drug dealing is a serious crime. This can make people addicted, and taking it on a regular basis
can drastically harm their physical and mental health (Rachels, 2018). Ruining so many lives
through drugs and hanging one evil person does not even balance the equation, yet a lot of
people consider it against human rights.
Based on the ethical egoism approach, capital punishment is the right way to create a
balance between evil and good. The welfare and safety of society is the moral obligation of all.
Criminals and murderers can disturb the balance in society. Besides this, capital punishment is
necessary to bring justice to society. The death penalty is a source of teaching to criminals who
will think before committing a crime if they know the consequences. In a better case, it is also
possible that criminals will leave work that has nothing to offer but pain. Providing protection
and safety to the community requires making harsh decisions.
The theory of social contract says that the people that are living in the society
cooperatively are obedient to an argument that indicates the political rules of behavior. Living in
society requires basic rules and contracts that are socially accepted, which provides the
MORAL CONTROVERSY 4
realization that coordination is important for living in a society and its welfare. In the case of the
death penalty, social contract theory clearly states that if a rule is to break, the rulebreaker gets
punishments for it, but the punishment is not specified. The argument that social contract ethics
provide about capital punishment is that society has no right to take human life; instead, it is a
moral obligation to protect them. If an alternative for the death penalty exists, then why should
one increase the suffering and pain through the death penalty. Less severe alternatives like life
sentences exist then why put a soul through suffering instead of opting for the best possible
option (Morris, 2016).
Secondly, there is no evidence that the death penalty is stopping people from crimes like
murder. There is no valid reason how death sentences can be better than life imprisonment.
Studies have shown that the murder rate is not related to death penalty enforcement. There are
many cases where murders and serious crimes have been done with the enforced capital
punishment law. Taking another life through capital punishment means adding people to the
death list without bringing a positive change in society. Thirdly, the Death penalty is against
nature. Humans have no right to takes lives. Life and death are in the hands of nature, going
against nature means disturbing the cosmic balance. Furthermore, the death penalty is imposed to
bring balance and welfare to the society. Unfortunately, capital punishment has no such effect on
welfare and crime rate. It is a waste of human resources. Many of the criminals who have been
sentenced if provided with habitation turn out to be socially productive. It is possible that a
person feels remorse and sorry for his deeds and wants to do good, but the jury decides to hang
him/her (Van den Haag & Conrad, 2013). The possible positive act that he intended to do if not
sentenced will be demolished if capital punishment is imposed. Along with this, there are so
MORAL CONTROVERSY 5
many cases where people are found guilty at first and are sentenced to death and later found
innocent. Innocuous lives are taken in such cases which cannot be reciprocated.
As for the American Medical Association, they believe that a person can have their own
opinion on capital punishment, that being their own personal moral decision. This is disregarded
when you are in a profession that is dedicated to preserving life, stating that a medical
professional is not to participate in a legally authorized execution, including determining the
competence of a prisoner to be executed, monitoring vital signs, starting intravenous lines as a
port for the injection, consulting or supervising the injection team, attending the executing,
and/or certifying the death. Anything pertaining to helping out with capital punishment is pretty
much a no, showing their ethical stance on capital punishment to be on the opposing side
(American Medical Association, 2021). This is the same for the American Nurses Association.
They are opposed to capital punishment and any nurses participation in it as well (ANA Center
for Ethics and Human Rights, 2016).
To conclude, there are many different sides to this ethical issue that has been around for
quite some time. Some believe it is just because it will sway criminals from committing crimes,
while others believe that we have no right, as humans, to take the life of another into our own
hands. Being in the medical field, I have dedicated my life to helping others and could not stand
by and be a part of it. But who is to say that until they are dealt this hand, and their family is the
one that has suffered at the hands of another? Would your ethical viewpoints change in regards
to a choice between your professional and familial duties? This is a question that I believe cannot
be answered until you are faced with that situation.
MORAL CONTROVERSY 6
American Medical Association. (2021). Capital punishment: Code of Medical Ethics Opinion
9.7.3. American Medical Association. Retrieved September 20, 2021, from
ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights. (2016). Capital punishment and nurses' participation
in capital punishment – ana position statement. American Nurses Association.
Morris, L. (2016). How to Get Away with Murder: An Analysis of the Moral Philosophies of
Niccoló Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes. Samford Undergraduate Research Journal,
Rachels, J. (2018). The Elements of Moral Philosophy (9th Edition). McGraw-Hill Higher
Education (US). https://ambassadored.vitalsource.com/books/9781260213003
Skyrms, B. (2014). Evolution of the social contract. Cambridge University Press.
Van den Haag, E., & Conrad, J. P. (2013). The death penalty: A debate. Springer Science &
Walter, L. (2019). The Death Penalty: Going Beyond Moral Arguments. Carolina Justice Policy
The Golden Mean and Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics
A key ethical approach originated with the Greek philosophers of ancient times. Twenty-three centuries ago, Athens was alive with great teachers whose lives overlapped. Socrates was teaching about good character even as he was tried and executed for perceived manipulation of young minds. His trial was witnessed and documented by Plato. Plato learned from Socrates' trial that good moral character is essential for justice to prevail. Plato proposed a list of four cardinal virtues: wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice. Aristotle later expanded the list. Their shared emphasis is that virtue consists of habits of character so that a virtuous person matures to live an ethical life.
Virtue ethics concern ideal traits and what those traits look like in practice, why a specific moral ideal applies in a situation, how to express that moral ideal there, etc.
These virtues of character are not natural in origin; they are developed as habits through intentional and repeated practice. Moreover, they are never perfected, but only approximated, and they always remain elusive and vulnerable to loss.
Aristotle's list of virtues included eleven items and another list of personal vices to be overcome through similar practice and development of habit. Seeing both the good and the bad in virtues, Aristotle developed The Doctrine of the Mean, a kind of schematic of virtues to be contrasted with an excess of the chosen virtue and the deficiency of it.
It is easy to misunderstand what is meant by "excess" and "deficiency." These are not quantitative words to imply too much or too little of a virtue. Excess and deficiency indicate aberrations of the virtue, something about the virtue as a distortion. The most common and classic example is courage. The excess is foolhardiness and the deficiency is cowardice. Both foolhardiness and cowardice can get you killed in situations of confrontation or danger. Most importantly, they are extremes of the concept of Courage calling upon reason to bring them back to the Mean, the center of the virtue. Thus, life is a constant struggle to find the mean, develop practiced habits toward achieving the mean, and always remain close to the mean with any given virtue.
The Doctrine of the Mean is best read in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Being an ancient scheme of understanding, Aristotle's virtue ethics fell out of favor among rational theories in recent centuries, but it is resurging. This resurgence is now most commonly found in character development literature for the corporate world, in the ethical standards of professional societies, and in the core values statements of organizations.
Aristotle regards the virtues—like justice, courage, and temperance—as complex rational, emotional and social skills. You have to strive for a happy medium rather than becoming a workaholic…. remember to intersperse fun with work… equal it out…enjoy your family and instill in yourself a solid work ethic.
If you remember nothing else about this lesson, remember this: ethics come from the virtues and from learning to apply the virtues evenly and calmly.
Health Care ethics is an arena where being virtuous can be important. Informed consent verifies that the patient has knowledge of and agrees to treatment. It is also a way to document possible results of a procedure or operation prior to it being performed. One cannot condone something if they are not cognizant of worst-case scenarios. This issue most often arises in the relationship between a patient and his/her doctor. The doctor will detail for a patient the pros and cons of what is being offered medically. The patient often may have to sign a form indicating that they are consciously and deliberating acquiescing to a procedure. Informed consent is not a matter of the virtue of generosity, but rather a proper respect of our rights
The patient though must decide. The patient must be of right mind and capable of making his/her own decision. They must be responsible for themselves. In this way, the patient must have autonomy (the ability to decide and to give oneself the law—a rule for operating). Their autonomy must also be respected. We should not make decisions for other adults. Children are not yet considered autonomous beings. They are not of the right mind and responsible for themselves. Their parents decide for them. Respecting personal autonomy and giving patients control is part of the virtue of compassion.
Even with proper precautions, best intentions, and skilled technicians, things might still go awry. Sometimes health care workers make mistakes. If a patient is injured during a procedure (whether deliberately or accidentally), that patient can sue the health care worker, medical institution, and others involved. It is often difficult (if not impossible) to determine intent. A health care worker may have wanted to cure a patient. However, that doctor or nurse for instance may have forgotten something or made an error. If they did so out of being tired, they may make themselves and the institution they work for become liable for the damage done to the patient. It may not feel right to be held liable for something done by mistake; however, even if one can argue ethically for a lack of fairness in such a circumstance, legally that idea might not hold. Not committing errors is a matter of integrity, a key virtue.
Patients want to control what is done to them. They do not want doctors to attempt anything experimental unless the patient has authorized such an approach. Patients feel more comfortable with health care matters when they feel like they are deciding what will be done. Patients also want to know that their decisions are private. They expect health care workers not to share anything about their decisions, health status, or results with anyone else. A requirement to protect privacy might also be something that follows from treating others with integrity. A right to privacy might be enshrined in law.
We can also ask if one has a right to protection from disease. On the one hand, one might think it is the patient's personal duty to protect him/herself by practicing good hygiene and maintaining a proper diet and physical state. One might also argue that undergoing all needed vaccines is also a personal responsibility of the patient. For example, in October or November, one would expect each person to choose of their own free will to have the flu vaccine administered to them. However, we cannot always expect each individual to take care of their own health even if it is in their own self-interest to do so. Often due to misinformation, religious views, or other factors, people do not take steps on their own to prevent themselves from becoming diseased and thus spreading it to others. In such cases, if we have a right to protection from disease, then is it morally correct to force everyone to become vaccinated as is the general requirement to attend public elementary schools in the US? Are vaccinations and protection of disease a matter of the virtue of prudence or perhaps respect or something else?
The events of September 11, 2001 changed America. Terrorism struck the United States on a larger scale than before. The events were the catalyst for a war in Afghanistan (that lasted more than 18 years) and a war in Iraq. However, war has its own rules. The Geneva Conventions (1949) were a set of protocols agreed to by the nations of the world for conducting war in an ethical manner. Part of those rules were that unarmed civilians would not be targeted deliberately and intentionally; terrorism, of course, does that. Terrorists and other bad actors use unarmed civilians as human shields. If the terrorist is trying to hurt unarmed civilians and hides behinds other unarmed civilians, is it moral to target those terrorists? After all, if one targets the terrorists, one will hurt the human shields even though one's intention is to only harm the terrorists and prevent harm to the unarmed that the terrorists are targeting. It is virtuous to protect others (we show courage). Many believe that terrorists are guilty of the vice of cowardice.
As you can see, terrorism raises ethical problems. Another one related to it is torture. Many feel that torture violates a basic right to dignity (think here of Kant's second formulation). Yet, many also think that torturing terrorists is morally justified if the terrorist to be tortured knows of a terrorist action about to be performed. They call such a terrorist with knowledge of an imminent attack a 'ticking bomb'. One might say the virtue of honesty would call on the terrorist to disclose the imminent attack. However, terrorists do not practice this virtue. The terrorist may say they are not totally lacking in virtue. Through a commitment to his cause, the terrorist might say they show diligence or perseverance. Can one show virtues when committing terrorism or enduring torture?
Many say that solitary confinement is torture. One justification for punishment in prisons has been that it will give prisoners time to reflect on their vices and how to in exchange develop virtuous activity. But does time isolated on one's own enable one to think about the nature of their vice? And, does reflecting on vice instruct one on its own about what it means to be virtuous? Solitary confinement can cause grave psychological damage. Even if prisons offered courses in the ethics of virtue, when one is confined on one's own, one has no ability to practice virtuous behavior in relation to another. For example, many say generosity is a virtue and shown via charity. No one can develop such a virtue if they do not have anything to give and none to give to.
Capital Punishment Annotated Bibliography
ETCH445N- Principles of Ethics
Professor Daniel Henke
Because of numerous opposing viewpoints, the death sentence is a prominent issue of moral discussion. When we look at this further, we can observe how a variety of personal and community circumstances influence its moral perspective. To begin with, we can see that there are still those who support the death sentence because they feel the offender deserves the death penalty for the offenses and crimes he or she has committed. The supporters and advocates of capital punishment argue that implementation of severe punishment can return the crimes and bring the ratio of crimes down. Therefore, it is considered a good tool for the police and prosecutors in a plea bargain to make sure that the convicted criminals can get capital punishment. In order to restrict them from offending again, usually, the death penalty for atrocious crimes, including serial killing, torture murders, or child murders, is pursued. Advocates of the death penalty claim that justice demands that the convicted criminals, especially those of heinous crimes, need to be sentenced to death as justice are when everyone is treated equally. It is an unjust gesture by the criminals who deliberately impose greater losses on the victims, and the victims or their families had to bear that loss. If the punishment given to the criminals is lower than those that the criminal has imposed on their victims, then it can be said that society is favorable to criminals. By giving them lighter punishments in contrast to the laws of victims would be unjust.
While on the other side, more individuals raise their voices against the death penalty is made law. Many people believe that it is an out-of-date rule and declare this type of punishment in the category of violence and anti-humanism; therefore, this law should be abandoned. They think that there is no one who deserves to be murdered or executed regardless of the acts that they have done. The counterargument made by the advocates of the elimination of the death penalty or capital punishment says that it is inhuman and can be categorized as murder. They also claim that there is no evidence that suggests that the implementation of capital punishment has any effect in reducing crime.
The major disagreement in response to death penalty is frequently advanced on the moral basis of the society which has the moral duty to protect the society instead of execution of the any human life even if he is a crime. The execution of human life should only be allowed if it is considered crucial so that we can attain a balance between good or evil. Considering the importance of human lives and the moral values of society it is necessary to respect the value of human beings. Therefore, it is necessary to reject the notion of capital punishment (Santa Clara University, 2015).
Through the lens of Kantian ethics, we can see how can and his followers would have seen it when we look at this sentence. Kant was one of the advocates and supporters of the death sentence because he believed that anybody who committed a crime, especially the heinous ones, should be met with equal punishment. In this way, they will achieve the results of their deliberate actions and will be set an example for others who have similar intentions. “Wrongdoers must be punished, and the punishment must fit the crime,” (Rachels, 2018). According to Kant, the capital punishment or death penalty is one of the most appropriate forms of punishment to be applicable to criminals because it is carried out with the intention of goodwill in mind. The main objective of the punishment is to make the criminals aware of their gestures and actions as wrong. Kant was a strong supporter of the death sentence, especially for the murders, as his views on the death penalty can be e understood in the paradigm of retributivism. In the days of Kant, capital punishments for ordinary throughout Europe and used for various crimes. But the viewpoints of Kant regarding capital punishment usually involve heinous crimes, e.g., murder. For example, in those days’ treason was considered a big crime for which there was no other punishment than and the death penalty. But Kant disagreed with these crimes because, according to him, no other crime is as big as murder; therefore, there should be other punishments as murder is the only crime for which the death penalty is considered as an appropriate punishment (Potter, 2012).
Dezhbakhsh, H., & Shepherd, J. M. (2006). The deterrent effect of capital punishment: Evidence from a "judicial experiment." Economic Inquiry, 44(3), 512-535.
In this study, authors Dezhbakhsh & Shepherd (2006) explore the death sentence as an effective crime deterrent. To investigate the deterrent impact of capital punishment, panel data from 50 states were accumulated from the period of 1960 to 2000 through the process of judicial experiment. To continue this study, differences recording the timing and duration of Moratorium were examined in order to identify the murder rate before and after the changes in death penalty statutes. The findings of this study have revealed that capital punishment has a deterrent impact, and execution has the unique fact that adds to the deterrent effect free introducing the death penalty. According to the author of this article, there is no proof that capital punishment lowers or deters crime. This study discovered that increasing the death penalty has resulted in an increased ratio of crime. This article contributes to the research as it contains the crucial fact that the research is demonstrating that the implementation of capital punishment does not affect the crime ratio.
Barrile, L. G. (2015). I forgive you, but you must die: Murder victim family members, the death penalty, and restorative justice. Victims & Offenders, 10(3), 239-269.
In this article, the author Barrile (2015) stated that the survivors of Murder victims and their families discuss how they choose to forgive their killers while still supporting their execution. The study's author included 52 participants who were the survivors of the murder victims and their families to find out how they felt about the death penalty to the accused. Regardless of the perpetrator's remorse, the author believes the victim's campaign for the death sentence out of concern that they would do it again. The results of this study indicated that most of the survivors supported the death penalty and rejected the remorse. At the same time, a few of them decided to forgive the offender and empathize with their friend’s family or short the signs of ambivalence regarding the death penalty. The findings suggested that the ‘forgive but die’ sentiment became the most common narrative of the survivors, which helped them to overcome their negative feelings. I think this article will help because it goes to explains the point I started in my previous paper; who can give their view on capital punishment until they have been faced with the situation. While few do believe in remorse, most would accepting of the death of another that caused them so much pain.
Howe, S. W. (2020). Atoning for Dred Scott and Plessy While Substantially Abolishing the Death Penalty. Wash. L. Rev., 95, 737.
This study is significant because it highlights the need to eliminate the death penalty due to its discriminatory nature. This thesis is compelling, and it clearly identifies the racial prejudice linked with the death sentences among the accused. The findings of this study state that the courts have failed to protect minorities, especially the rights of African Americans. Just like the stereotypical approach utilized by common people, the court also views the African Americans as second-class citizens and usually backs white Supremacy showing discrimination. This study is valuable since it discusses the failure of the courts to recognize the equality and rights of African Americans. It also shows different past mistakes which the courts had made in this manner. This study achieves its goals by giving arguments against the death penalty and declaring it to be discriminatory. When compared to incarceration, the author of the study claims that capital punishment has minimal benefits. This study is possessive since it backs up its assertion with pertinent cited material. In this article, the examination and Thoreau literature review of different secondary sources, including journals and court records, has been done, which backs up the present real-life examples of systemic racism and capital punishment.
Cassell, P. G. (2000). We’re Not Executing the Innocent.”. Wall Street Journal, 16.
The author of this article gives arguments in favor of the death sentence, which is evident from the title that we are not executing the innocent. It depicts that the execution is for the criminals who have done things that deviate from the norms and laws of our society. For the run of this article, the author has made arguments by refuting the allegations made by the opponents of capital punishment that innocent people are executed unjustly. The author explains the reasons by citing proper statistics as to why the convicted murderers should be executed or should go through capital punishment. The statistical citation provides the numbers of previously convicted converts who are presently serving time for homicide. In this article, the author also quoted the examples of Supreme Court Judges and their feelings regarding the implementation of death sentences and their legal status in all states. This article will be very helpful in making an argument regarding the implementation of capital punishment, and it can be used to refute and the death penalty allegations of unfair executions. This article will be beneficial to the agreeing side of the argument, while the opposing side is scared of killing innocent people.
Ehrenfreund, M. (2014, April 30). There’s still no evidence that executions deter criminals. The Washington Post. Why Hire Safehomework.com writers to do your paper?