PHIL 212: INTRODUCITON TO ETHICS: Suggested Essay Topics
Your 4 to 5 page essay should be double-spaced, and it should follow the rules of Standard English. All citations of books or articles must be properly documented and formatted according to the Modern Language Association or Chicago style.
On the Ethics of Killing: Capital Punishment
The issue of capital punishment can be considered from the standpoint of dealing out a proportionate measure of justice for particular crimes as well as from an institutional standpoint. When, if at all, is capital punishment justified? Is it possible for society to humanely kill someone, or is every form of capital punishment “cruel and unusual”? If capital punishment by a certain means (e.g., lethal injection) passes the hurdle of humane killing, might the institution of capital punishment miscarry as a system or program? In other words, should society be concerned about the risk of errors? Can these concerns be adequately addressed by the criminal justice system? Read Hugo Bedau’s “Capital Punishment” and/or Helen Prejean, both of whom want to abolish the death penalty, and either Ernest van den Haag or Christopher Morris, both of whom defend the death penalty. These articles are in Chapter 5 of Boss.
***You may modify the above topics by limiting the scope of the questions involved in a particular issue. It’s a good idea to write a focused essay on a limited set of questions than to write a general and meandering essay on a broad topic. You should make an outline before you start writing.