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Single Idea 19809

[catalogued under 25. Society / C. Social Justice / 5. Right to Punish / a. Right to punish]

Full Idea

Whoever wills the end also wills the means. ...The death penalty inflicted on criminals can be viewed from more or less this point of view. It is in order to avoid being the victim of an assassin that a person consents to die, were he to become one.

Gist of Idea

We accept the death penalty to prevent assassinations, so we must submit to it if necessary


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762], II.05)

A Reaction

This seems to be roughly the spirit in which Socrates submitted to his death. I doubt whether many criminals agree with harsh punishments dished out to other criminals who get caught.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.159