Camus on Capital Punishment

by Richard on September 22, 2011

“But what then is capital punishment but the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal’s deed, however calculated it may be, can be compared? For there to be equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life.”

- Albert Camus, writer, philosopher, Nobel laureate (1913-1960)

With thanks to Virtual Methodist

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Kim 09.23.11 at 10:25 am

A quite capital quote, but it should be pointed out that Camus rejected capital punishment primarily on utilitarian grounds (i.e., it did not, in fact, act as the deterrent it is purported to be by its adovocates). Interestingly, he also suggested that in the heyday of faith, it actually made sense to execute people, because the ultimate purpose of the act was the salvation of the soul, while in a post-Christian world, execution is simply a nihilistic expression of vengeance and despair.

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