Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Peter,
> We can discuss any subject rationally if we agree on axioms, but the problem 
> is that 
> in matters of value, those axioms are ultimately arbitrary. I believe that 
> capital 
> punishment is wrong; not because it is not a good deterrent, or because it is 
> irreversible 
> if a mistake is made, but just because it's bad, evil. Other people do not 
> agree with me. 
> I can't convince them, they can't convince me, because we disagree on an 
> axiom. If 
> someone could show me that violent crime has consistently decreased in places 
> where 
> capital punishment has been introduced, and further demonstrated a causative 
> link, then 
> I might have to concede that I was wrong about my facts, but I would not 
> change my mind 
> about capital punishment being wrong, because in the *final* analysis every 
> ethical and 
> aesthetic belief has no logical or empirical justification.
> Stathis Papaioannou

That's consistent with my view that personal values that are incorrigble.  You 
hold an execution to have a very negative value.  So negative that you can't 
imagine any countervailing values.   But this may be a failure of imagination.  
Suppose it were shown that execution of a very few persons convicted of 
multiple torture/murders virtually eliminated that crime.  Or it would stop 
genocide, as in Darfur, Rawanda, Somalia,...

Or more generally, even though each value judgement in isolation is subjective 
and has no logical or empirical justification, one may argue for or against 
actions based on these values by showing conflicts between values.  This is 
implicitly the argument society presents to one contemplating a crime - you 
want to steal that car, but you don't want to go to jail.

Brent Meeker 

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