2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Capital Punishment, using ‘Ted Bundy’ and ‘The Life of David Gale’ to explore arguments for and against this form of punishment

Kate Murray, 2007, Stage 3

Territory: Capital Punishment using ‘Ted Bundy’ and ‘The Life of David Gale’ to explore arguments for and against this form of punishment. Personalised Content: The discussion of these films is supported by information that has appeared in the media after the execution of Saddam Hussein, which has brought capital punishment back into the society’s consciousness. I have noticed a change in attitudes towards capital punishment and a trend in the reasons why it has gathered support. The threat of terrorist attacks and the increase in violent crime in society has brought about increased support for the death penalty. Prior to 2001 it was generally found that people opposed the death penalty on moral grounds, however it is now gained the greatest amount of support in recent history. The increase of support surrounding the death penalty has brought about further ethical implications, including discussion of methods used and debate over whether criminals should be allowed to die with dignity. Philosophical Content: I was interested in considering how certain ethical theories would link with capital punishment, in particular the theories put forward by Kant and Mill. I wished to link the films used to one of the theories in order to gauge whether they assisted in supporting or rejecting the particular standpoint. I linked ‘The Life of David Gale’ to Kant’s view outlined in his ‘Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals’ and found that the film just reinforced Kant’s view that it is acceptable to use capital punishment as a form of retribution. The argument in ‘David Gale’ is against capital punishment, but is so weakly constructed that it only assists in showing the strengths of Kant’s work. ‘Ted Bundy’ was linked to Utilitarianism as at the end of the film we see a celebration at the death of a serial killer, showing that at times capital punishment may produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number,

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