People We Hire as Executioners: Who Are They? Who Are We?

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    Christopher Bennett has introduced a new inquiry into the capital punishment debate by looking at whether the role of executioner is one in which it is possible and proper to take pride. He argues that this will depend on the kind of justifications that an executioner can offer in defense of his role and takes as an example the English executioner Albert Pierrepoint as portrayed in the film Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman. Bennett claims that none of the justifications available to Pierrepoint are adequate, that his pride in his role was unjustified, and that this gives us reason to doubt those justifications for capital punishment. I am unpersuaded by Bennett’s arguments and give reasons for thinking that the role of executioner can under certain circumstances be an honorable vocation in which one may legitimately take pride.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalCriminal Justice Ethics
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jul 9 2016



    • capital punishment
    • deterrence
    • executioner
    • killing
    • murder
    • Pierrepoint
    • retribution
    • virtue theory

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Law

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