Death Penalty: The Utilitarianism Ethical Theory

Implementation of the death penalty is an ethical issue charged with controversies due to conflicting ethical theories, with some supporting that it is effective in deterring crime while others perceive it to be inhumane. Many arguments against the death penalty pivot on lack of deterrent effect, humanity, and irreversibility, while proponents of the death penalty view it as a form of retribution, enhancing morality, and deterring crime for the benefit of society. I support death penalty for capital offenses since it is an effective way of retribution, deterrence, and preventing re-offending of crime, drawing from utilitarianism theory. The utilitarian ethical theory supports the death penalty since it eliminates crime for the more significant benefit of the majority in society. Utilitarianism theory of morality advocates for actions aimed at the betterment of society and objects to actions that inflict harm or unhappiness on society (Uduodom et al., 2019). Hard criminals are difficult to rehabilitate or commit a capital felony such as treason, murder, or espionage, posing a threat to the safety and welfare of society. The death penalty is, therefore, necessary to discontinue hard criminals for social interest. In some cases, such as murder, equal justice should be served for the offended; hence death penalty is the most authentic form of retribution. With respect to the offender’s autonomy, capital offenders should be sentenced to the death penalty because they deserve it since they choose how to act (Uduodom et al., 2019). Recidivism is also a significant issue alienating society and influencing the cost of rehabilitation that can be practically dealt with using the capital penalty. Utilitarianism gives moral justification for the death penalty as long as it promotes society’s total well-being, approval, and happiness. I support capital punishment as an avenue of justice for the benefit of the majority and retribution.


Udoudom, M. D., Bassey, S. A., Okpe, T. A., & Adie, T. (2019). Kantian and utilitarian ethics on capital punishment. Budapest International Research and Critics Institute (BIRCI-Journal): Humanities and Social Sciences, 2(2), 28-35. Web.