Certainly not the right on which the sovereignty and laws are founded.The laws, as I have said before, are only the sum of the smallest portions of the private liberty of each individual, and represent the general will which is the aggregate of that of each individual.It is therefore a war of a whole nation against a citizen, whose destruction they consider as necessary, or useful to the general good.
If I commit such a crime, says the spectator to himself, I shall be reduced to that miserable condition for the rest of my life.
This is a much more powerful preventive than the fear of death, which people always see in distant obscurity The terrors of death make so slight an impression that it does not have enough force to withstand our natural human forgetfulness, even in the most essential things and when assisted by the passions.
In these there can be no necessity for taking away the life of a subject.
Consider whether the experience of all ages is not sufficient to prove that the punishment of death has never prevented determined people from injuring society.
If the example of the Romans; if twenty years reign of Elizabeth, empress of Russia, in which she gave the fathers of their country an example more memorable than many conquests bought with blood.
If, I say, all this is not sufficient to persuade people, who always suspect the voice of reason and who chose rather to be led by authority, then let us consult human nature in proof of my assertion. CLASSIC PHILOSOPHERS ON THE DEATH PENALTY Beccaria, Mill, Kant On Crimes and Punishment (1764), which critiqued the ineffective and often brutal criminal justice system of his time. Racial Bias and Executing the Innocent: No Real Problem John Mc Adams #4. The death penalty, he argues, is more humane than imprisonment and that it improves society because of its deterrence value. In the second selection below, from a speech given before Parliament on April 21, 1868, he defends the death penalty in opposition to a proposed bill to ban capital punishment.From Applied Ethics: A Sourcebook James Fieser 10/3/2010 Contents 1. Death penalty critics argue that it is not effective in cases such as theft since criminals expected judges and jury members to show mercy.Classic Philosophers on the Death Penalty Beccaria, Mill, Kant 2. Mill concedes that if this starts to happen in cases such as theft, then the death penalty should be revoked.The useless profusion of punishments, which has never made people better, induces me to inquire whether punishment by death is really just or useful in a well-governed state.What right, I ask, do people have to cut the throats of their fellow-creatures?The death of a citizen cannot be necessary except in one case.This is when he is deprived of his liberty and yet still has enough power and connections to endanger the security of the nation, that is, when his existence may produce a dangerous revolution in the established form of government.