Posts Tagged ‘empathy’

Two ethicists consider Gov. Rick Perry, the audience at the Republican debate, and the death penalty

September 13, 2011


Jack Marshall raises an interesting ethics issue here, as he does so often in his Ethics Alarms. This time it’s the conflict between empathy and justice. He explains how the Golden Rule can get us into some uncomfortable ethical conflicts. He writes,

‘Empathy is considered an ethical virtue for good reason: it is at the core of the Golden Rule. A person without empathy is less likely to put himself or herself in the other person’s place. The criminal justice process, however, is not a good fit for the Golden Rule. In the place of a guilty criminal, I would still probably want to be pardoned, set free, and given a second—or third, or fourth—chance to be law-abiding.”

Marshall defends Gov. Rick Perry’s answer at last Wednesday’s Republican debate to moderator Brian Williams’s question whether Perry was troubled by the idea that there might have been some innocents among the 234 people executed while Perry was Governor. After the audience cheered the grisly tally, Perry answered:

“No, sir. I’ve never struggled with that at all. The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place of which — when someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, (more…)


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