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1 lostlakehiker  Feb 14, 2015 1:02:32pm
For it is characteristic of all punishments which depend on duration for their efficacy—all, therefore, which are not corporal or pecuniary—that they are more rigorous than they seem; while it is, on the contrary, one of the strongest recommendations a punishment can have, that it should seem more rigorous than it is; for its practical power depends far less on what it is than on what it seems. There is not, I should think, any human infliction which makes an impression on the imagination so entirely out of proportion to its real severity as the punishment of death. The punishment must be mild indeed which does not add more to the sum of human misery than is necessarily or directly added by the execution of a criminal. As my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr.Gilpin) has himself remarked, the most that human laws can do to anyone in the matter of death is to hasten it; the man would have died at any rate; not so very much later, and on the average, I fear, with a considerably greater amount of bodily suffering. Society is asked, then, to denude itself of an instrument of punishment which, in the grave cases to which alone it is suitable, effects its purposes at a less cost of human suffering than any other; which, while it inspires more terror, is less cruel in actual fact than any punishment that we should think of substituting for it. My hon. Friend says that it does not inspire terror, and that experience proves it to be a failure. But the influence of a punishment is not to be estimated by its effect on hardened criminals. Those whose habitual way of life keeps them, so to speak, at all times within sight of the gallows, do grow to care less about it; as, to compare good things with bad, an old soldier is not much affected by the chance of dying in battle. I can afford to admit all that is often said about the indifference of professional criminals to the gallows. Though of that indifference one-third is probably bravado and another third confidence that they shall have the luck to escape, it is quite probable that the remaining third is real. But the efficacy of a punishment which acts principally through the imagination, is chiefly to be measured by the impression it makes on those who are still innocent; by the horror with which it surrounds the first promptings of guilt; the restraining influence it exercises over the beginning of the thought which, if indulged, would become a temptation; the check which it exerts over the graded declension towards the state—never suddenly attained—in which crime no longer revolts, and punishment no longer terrifies. As for what is called the failure of death punishment, who is able to judge of that? We partly know who those are whom it has not deterred; but who is there who knows whom it has deterred, or how many human beings it has saved who would have lived to be murderers if that awful association had not been thrown round the idea of murder from their earliest infancy?

So, is John Stuart Mill an abomination? His thinking, intolerably hateful and vicious? I think not. I think he got it right.

2 b_sharp  Feb 14, 2015 1:16:05pm

It’s not like we can actual measure and analyse the efficacy of deterrents.

3 Backwoods_Sleuth  Feb 14, 2015 1:24:10pm

re: #2 b_sharp

It’s not like we can actual measure and analyse the efficacy of deterrents.

And those innocent folks on death row?
Merely necessary collateral damage to keep all those future possible murderers scared.

good freaking grief…

4 team_fukit  Feb 14, 2015 1:30:45pm

Plus all the racial, class, and gender bias in the current system…

And most studies say life in prison is cheaper because of the expense of the current appeals process and the oversight needed to actually execute someone. Plus you gotta pay for separate death row facilities and guards

5 Backwoods_Sleuth  Feb 14, 2015 1:32:58pm

re: #4 team_fukit

And prosecutors who like to clear cases quickly…especially if an election is coming up…

6 Prof. Backpfeifengesicht, PhD  Feb 14, 2015 1:59:13pm

re: #1 lostlakehiker

So, is John Stuart Mill an abomination? His thinking, intolerably hateful and vicious? I think not. I think he got it right.

We’ve already seen how many innocent people have been freed with the help of DNA-evidence. Sorry, you lose.

7 lostlakehiker  Feb 14, 2015 2:02:12pm

re: #3 Backwoods_Sleuth

And those innocent folks on death row?
Merely necessary collateral damage to keep all those future possible murderers scared.

good freaking grief…

Mill addresses that point. If, he writes, the chance of condemning an innocent man is substantial, then the death penalty ought not be used, and in practice will turn out not to be useable or useful. But if, as in England even in his day, the courts deem even a shadow of doubt sufficient reason not to impose the death penalty, then he reasons that the death penalty is appropriate. And this is why PA has decided on the moratorium—-its courts, and its whole government, are not noted for integrity. But Utah is another matter, which is why Utah has made its decision.

Thank you, thank you both, for downdinging the thinking of one of the greatest ethical minds of all time. It’s nice to have it out in the open.

8 b_sharp  Feb 14, 2015 2:04:55pm

re: #7 lostlakehiker

Mill addresses that point. If, he writes, the chance of condemning an innocent man is substantial, then the death penalty ought not be used, and in practice will turn out not to be useable or useful. But if, as in England even in his day, the courts deem even a shadow of doubt sufficient reason not to impose the death penalty, then he reasons that the death penalty is appropriate. And this is why PA has decided on the moratorium—-its courts, and its whole government, are not noted for integrity. But Utah is another matter, which is why Utah has made its decision.

Thank you, thank you both, for downdinging the thinking of one of the greatest ethical minds of all time. It’s nice to have it out in the open.

You got downdinged, not Mill. His words lose applicability through time as society changes.

9 Backwoods_Sleuth  Feb 14, 2015 2:27:54pm

re: #7 lostlakehiker

Mill addresses that point. If, he writes, the chance of condemning an innocent man is substantial, then the death penalty ought not be used, and in practice will turn out not to be useable or useful. But if, as in England even in his day, the courts deem even a shadow of doubt sufficient reason not to impose the death penalty, then he reasons that the death penalty is appropriate. And this is why PA has decided on the moratorium—-its courts, and its whole government, are not noted for integrity. But Utah is another matter, which is why Utah has made its decision.

Thank you, thank you both, for downdinging the thinking of one of the greatest ethical minds of all time. It’s nice to have it out in the open.

Excuse me????

10 Backwoods_Sleuth  Feb 14, 2015 2:29:33pm

re: #7 lostlakehiker

Mill addresses that point. If, he writes, the chance of condemning an innocent man is substantial, then the death penalty ought not be used, and in practice will turn out not to be useable or useful. But if, as in England even in his day, the courts deem even a shadow of doubt sufficient reason not to impose the death penalty, then he reasons that the death penalty is appropriate. And this is why PA has decided on the moratorium—-its courts, and its whole government, are not noted for integrity. But Utah is another matter, which is why Utah has made its decision.

Thank you, thank you both, for downdinging the thinking of one of the greatest ethical minds of all time. It’s nice to have it out in the open.

Have a downding for that steaming dump of misdirected self-righteousness.

11 JamesWI  Feb 14, 2015 6:56:58pm

re: #1 lostlakehiker

So, is John Stuart Mill an abomination? His thinking, intolerably hateful and vicious? I think not. I think he got it right.

“Innocent people won’t commit murder because they’ll be afraid of the death penalty.” ……. That argument is essentially an extension of the Christian favorite “Well, if we didn’t fear God’s punishment (in the form of burning in Hell for all eternity), we’d all go wild, killing and raping everything in sight!” Because the only thing keeping “innocent” people from turning into evil monsters is the fear of punishment.

In other words, total bullshit.

But since John Stuart Mill said it, it must be right! For he is infallible!

12 Prof. Backpfeifengesicht, PhD  Feb 15, 2015 4:05:32am

re: #7 lostlakehiker

Mill addresses that point. If, he writes, the chance of condemning an innocent man is substantial, then the death penalty ought not be used

And yet it is still used in such cases. Moreover, it will always be used in such cases. If you think about it, maybe you’ll understand.


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