Debate on Capital Punishment

My most prolific student, Gennady Stolyarov II (who incidentally just had an article on, wrote a piece advocating the death penalty for those anti-cartoon Muslims. I then wrote this response, to which GS wrote this. My quick response:

(1) GS has still just asserted that someone forfeits his right to life when he murders another. I still maintain that I don't find this assertion compelling. GS adds a little bit I suppose with the non-contradiction stuff, but I can walk around thinking, "I don't have any mass." Nonetheless I do. By the same token, even if by his actions a murderer shows that he doesn't believe people have the right to life, nonetheless they do.

(2) GS hasn't taken up my cases of torture or a blind man blinding a sighted man. Does he think "two teeth for a tooth" applies there too? E.g. if someone tortures another, do we have not only the right but the moral duty to torture him back?

(3) GS oddly says that the aggrieved party, Y, can take any goods that "as judged by Y" are of "equivalent" value to the television set. Isn't this a bit dangerous? What if Y thinks the SUV in the driveway is equivalent?

(4) GS incredibly argues that I don't have the right to prescribe mercy for my murderers, because someone who kills me isn't just harming me, but GS himself (since *blush* I'm his favorite economics teacher). It seems that this ignores the basic libertarian point that people don't have property rights in conditions, but in things. For example, even though in a sense I harm my competitor if I open a business next door, I haven't trampled his rights. In the same way, if someone kills me, under libertarian theory my rights have been violated, but not those of my friends (who are now deprived of my razor sharp wit and stunning good looks).


  1. This post is an interesting discussion of an alternative system of implementing the death penalty. It doesn't discuss methods (lethal injection, etc.) but it does discuss why and when it should be used.

  2. Unfortunately I had a really hard time reading it because of the background colors...

  3. Dr. Murphy,

    Thank you for your comments. I have responded at

    I am
    G. Stolyarov II