Mark Shea’s latest contribution in his debate with Dr Ed Feser over capital punishment is a long quote from Princeton’s Robert George, who, as a proponent of the New Natural Law Theory, rejects capital punishment as punishment. Dr George understands the Catechism and John Paul II’s teaching as allowing the killing of criminals who are reasonably judged to pose a future threat to others and whose threat can’t be contained. But he holds that they do not permit criminals to be executed as punishment. The death penalty, then, would be a form of self-defense but not a form of punishment. (On the one hand, the Catechism treats the subject in context of legitimate defense [CCC 2263-2267]. On the other hand, it also treats the subject in the context of the discussion of proportionate punishment for crime [CCC 2266-2267]. The treatment of capital punishment in this way has led to quite a lot of debate.)
Dr Feser has replied to Mark Shea and to Dr George here.
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