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> How many people is it reasonable to let be killed/raped/etc because guilty people were kept alive?

You need to show a strong deterrent effect of the death penalty for this to be a reasonable line of argument. In addition, you'll find that almost all of the rich democratic world, except the US and Japan, have answered this with "nobody is allowed to be put to death by the state" as per the article.

There death penalty isn't about deterrent: bad people rarely consider punishment when making the decision to commit a crime.

The death penalty exists so the decent don't have to suffer the truly evil to live.

This is why arguments weighing pros and cons fall on deaf ears.

> There death penalty isn't about deterrent

This ^. I don't want to end someone's life because they did something bad. I want to end it because it's too much of a cose to keep them alive. Most importantly, the risk they will do something horrible again. If a given person has shown themself (grammar?) to be a severe risk to society, then ending that person may be the right solution.

So being alive is a privilege that can be taken away?

There is no such thing as absolute rights and privileges in nature. Just like any other laws or norms, they are a human invention, used as a tool for facilitating large group social organization.

Thus, it makes no sense to ask what is or is not a "privilege that can be taken away", since this is a question with no logical or scientific meaning.

The only thing you can ask is "given a specific set of criteria we are trying to optimize for, is it better or worse for this to be a privilege that can be taken away". Which, of course, depends on the criteria.

There is a code to living that cannot be violated. If we live in a civil society, we all have a personal mandate to be civil. Laws exist to act as a hedge against evil. They don't always work. There are some brands of evil that need to be purged. Everyone knows there are people who are so evil they need to go. The Mansons, Escobars, McVeighs, John Wayne Gacey (spelling?) and all those types.

A civil society breaks its pact with law abiding people people when it allows these people to go on living when they've not only broken the social compact, they've destroyed it by dint of murdering, raping, selling drugs, ruining the lives of others, some of whom were parents who have left a child parentless, sometimes orphans, who then become a burden on the state (albeit a worthy burden). Actions like these are grounds for state-sanctioned execution of the offender.

A civil society also breaks its pact when it commits the murder of an innocent person in the name of those law-abiding people. Further, the list of things that "ruin the lives of others" is pretty arbitrary---there are certainly people here who would debate the proper legal status of "selling drugs".

That's false, otherwise any activity which has a chance for an innocent person to die would be a violation of the social contract to that dead person regardless of the benefits to the public.

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