Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 16, 1991

Thomas W. Satre
Pages 233-250

Human Dignity and Capital Punishment

This paper reviews the concept of human dignity as it has evolved in recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court, and the paper then sketches a “rights based” theory of human dignity. Among the principles of human dignity is a principle of compensation for mistakes in the treatment of any person. A broad concept of mistake is outlined, and, in terms of this concept and the principles of dignity, the practice of capital punishment is examined. An argument by Jeffrie Murphy against capital punishment is stated and criticized and a stronger argument against capital punishment is presented.