The question of ethical behavior is an age-old conundrum. The prevailing issue with ethics is that it is extremely difficult to measure. A person’s moral fabric is largely based on their particular personality traits, as well as, their psychological state and environmental influences. Many believe that ethics are tied to a person’s conscience, and that good morals are often facilitated by a strong religious background. Furthermore, a person’s moral development can be linked to their economic situation and cultural differences. Interestingly, even while examining the status of one’s moral code is challenging; everyone seems to have their own unique array of ethics.
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No one should have to endure such needless suffering.
Capital punishment used to be a routine universal practice. The torrid history surrounding executions dates back thousands of years and includes the majority of civilizations around the world. Throughout history, the death penalty has been utilized as a tool to manage society. Hammurabi, a successful Babylonian king, established what many scholars thought to be the first code of laws. Charles F. Horne, author of “The Code of Hammurabi,” explains: “The code . . . regulates in clear and definite strokes the organization of society” and these “grim retaliatory punishments take no note of excuses or explanations, but only of the fact” (Horne Online). Obviously, Hammurabi was aware of the advantages of capital punishment and eagerly supports it! Furthermore, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, “In 1612, Virginia Governor Sir Thomas Dale enacted the Divine, Moral and Martial Laws, which provided the death penalty for even minor offenses such as stealing grapes, killing chickens, and trading with Indians” (DPIC Online). While capital punishment is clearly unnecessary for such trivial delinquencies, it is evident that this practice has been widely employed and passed down through the ages.
If someone were to survey the ethical issues associated with capital punishment, the sheer number of contentions would be astounding! However, the principle argument against the death penalty maintains that a human life is too valuable to execute. On the surface, this appears to be the appropriate ethical assessment, but is it? In the pure sense of the word, no, the act of deliberately taking another person’s life is not ethical; but, if one were to disregard the initial definition and avoid the superfluous, often, technical phrasing, then the ethical debate becomes more lucid. Enigmatically, the ethical concept is closely linked to emotion, and as sentiments and beliefs change, the moral compass of an individual is understandably altered. Quite often, in a case that is predominantly driven by emotion, there is an anomic shift in the morality of an individual and, sometimes, an entire society.
For instance, the latest high-profile and faithfully monitored trial, involving Casey Anthony, has sparked a great deal of controversy and civil unrest throughout the nation. For those that firmly advocate her guilt (ME!), there is a sense of bitterness and acrimony resulting from her acquittal. Unfortunately, when determining the proper sentencing in a capital court case, the notion of ethics and justice intertwine. When the boundaries between the two begin to merge, a person’s perception of apposite ethics becomes obscured by this emotional eclipse. The effects of this subsequent shift can, and frequently does, shake the very foundation of this seemingly finite word.
The convergence of justice and ethics tends to sway people away from the conventional definition in order to gratify an arcane...