A Question for Ethicists

From Wikipedia: Ethics is the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles and seeks to resolve questions of human morality by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. An ethicist is one whose judgment on ethics and ethical codes has come to be trusted by a specific community, and (importantly) is expressed in some way that makes it possible for others to mimic or approximate that judgment.

Here’s my question for an ethicist: If one opposes abortion based on “sanctity of life” and/or “advocacy on behalf of the innocent” moral principles, can one ethically support capital punishment when either (or perhaps both) principles can be applied to those convicted of crime? 

The Governor of Alabama released a statement on May 15th, 2019, after signing into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, which said: “To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.” On May 16th, the day after the Act was signed, Alabama executed a convicted murderer.

It seems apparent that legislative actions being taken across the country are going to require us in the near future to re-consider our moral principles concerning life and death; perhaps re-visiting our moral contradictions would be of benefit as well. 

5 thoughts on “A Question for Ethicists

  1. Excellent point. This contradiction has always troubled me, even more so because so many on death row have been exonerated. Thought-provoking post, as usual!

    1. Thanks Charlotte! I find it hard to justify that we can legislate for these issues as though there is no connection between the morality of arguments in defense of either.

  2. Interesting. I am not a supporter of abortions ( there are exceptions) . I feel that a fetus is a stage of human development , just as newborn, infant, toddler, child, teenager, adult , and senior are stages of life. When considering an abortion it is not just the body of the mother that ought to be considered, but another human body growing inside her.
    I also do not believe in capital punishment or war either. So I think I am true to my moral compass. But I do understand your point. You always have interesting thoughts, Sally!
    You keep our minds thinking!

  3. Obviously the death penalty violates dedication to the sanctity of each human life. Are there people who are not pro-life even though they are pro-choice ? Issues such as abortion or the death penalty do not fit simple slogans. Those who are pro-choice most likely do not support abortion the day before a baby is due. The unfair allocation of the death penalty raises all sorts of issues about its use. What about thinking instead of mouthing simplistic language?

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