Beyond the Death Penalty Debate

The debate on capital punishment boils down to an exchange of conflicting ethical and utilitarian views. But, given the prevalence of state-sponsored wars, massacre, and starvation, not to mention prison conditions that often drive inmates to suicide, opponents of the death penalty should not regard its abolition as an end in itself.

China’s decision to execute the head of its drug regulatory agency has rekindled international debate about capital punishment. It is an age-old question, one that harks back to Plato, who in his “Laws” saw the need to punish by death those who commit egregious crimes.