The presumptive winner of the annual Ethics Alarms award for “Commenter of the Year” in 2013, texagg04, has delivered a Comment of the Day expanding the topic of the post regarding a condemned prisoner in Ohio who wrangled a postponement of his execution so he could donate his organs to relatives. Here is texagg04′s take on “Ethics Quiz: The Kidneys of Orlac.” I’ll have some comments at the end.
“First, a murderer or other capital criminal being held responsible for his or her conduct seems to be in conflict with the same individual being allowed to display charity when you say they forfeited their freedom, all of it, with their commission of a capital crime. I’m not so sure it should be viewed from that angle.
Punishment serves a variety of purposes. Some petty crimes receive punishment designed to compensate, as best as can be, the victim – the victim being dead, capital punishment does not serve this purpose. Some crimes are of an anti-social nature, and the apt punishment seeks to rehabilitate or reconcile the perpetrator to the community. Capital crimes are so heinous that we have determined that the perpetrator must be completely cut off from society, through their death. In this case, the punishment does nothing for the victim OR for the criminal; the punishment is designed solely for the benefit of society.
If the criminal wishes to donate his/her organs to (what we must assume is to salve their own conscience – even though we can, probably, cynically assume is just a delaying tactic), we should not care one bit. They are gaining no material benefit from the community, nor are they engaging in any direct interaction with the community – so the act of cutting them off from the community as part of the punishment is still complete. Continue reading