Cattolici e pena di morte

Chi pensa che sia legittimo punire il criminale e allo stesso tempo che la punizione debba essere proporzionale al danno procurato con quel crimine, allora non puo’ pensare alla pena di morte come a qualcosa di intrinsecamente illegittimo. Punto.

E’ da qui che parte la difesa della pena di morte fatta dal cattolico Edward Feser.

Si parte ricordando le tre funzioni della pena: 1) far giustizia 2) correggere 3) produrre deterrenza…

… Traditionally, the aims of punishment are threefold: retribution, or inflicting on a wrongdoer a harm he has come to deserve because of his offense; correction, or chastising the wrongdoer for the sake of getting him to change his ways; and deterrence, discouraging others from committing the same offense…

Ma “fare giustizia” resta la funzione fondamentale

… it also means that retribution— inflicting a harm that is deserved— must always be part of any act of punishment, even if it is not the only part….

In altri termini: se una pena giusta non puo’ correggere, noi la applichiamo lo stesso. Se una pena giusta non produce deterrenza, noi la applichiamo lo stesso.

D’altro canto: se una pena ingiusta corregge, noi la evitiamo. Se una pena ingiusta crea un’adeguata deterrenza, noi non la applichiamo.

Per questi motivi possiamo concludere che la funzione retributiva è la funzione fondamentale.

La punizione giusta è proporzionale alle colpe…

… Now, what a wrongdoer deserves as punishment is a harm proportionate to his offense…

A volte la proporzionalità è impossibile, ma non per questo il principio si estingue

… Sometimes inflicting such punishments would be impossible (a mass murderer cannot be executed multiple times), or would do more harm than good…

La proporzionalità impossibile deriva da un limite intrinseco alla severità delle pene materialmente comminabili, il che rende evidente il perché la sua presenza non sia limitante nel nostro caso: chi si oppone alla pena di morte lo fa perché la ritiene troppo severa, non troppo poco severa.

Alcuni fanno notare che la precisione nella proporzionalità è sempre dubbia, ma anche qui il principio non è scalfito…

…Even if it were claimed that a single murder would not merit it, it is not difficult to imagine crimes that would. Ten murders? Ten murders coupled with the rape and torture of the victims? Genocide? If wrongdoers deserve punishment and the punishment ought to be proportional to the offense, then at some point we are going to reach a level of criminality for which capital punishment is appropriate at least in principle…

Se un omicidio non vi basta per infliggere la pena di morte, optate pure per dieci omicidi, il principio della sua legittimità resta.

Il fatto che la pena di morte sia legittima in principio non significa che sia opportuna in pratica

… Obviously, questions might be raised about whether capital punishment is advisable in practice, even if it is allowable in principle…

I cattolici che si oppongono alla pena di morte lo fanno in nome della salvaguardia della dignità umana

… appeals to what he calls the “Essential Dignity View” of human beings, according to which “human beings… possess dignity, or excellence, in virtue of the kind of being they are… On this basis, Tollefsen concludes that “it is always wrong intentionally to kill a human person,”… Tollefsen notes that a defender of capital punishment might claim that a guilty person has lost his dignity. But the defender certainly need not say this…

Chi si oppone dice: “chi è a favore implicitamente afferma che il colpevole non ha più una sua dignità umana”.

Sbagliato. Al contrario, considerare il colpevole una persona libera e responsabile implica l’affermazione della sua dignità. Solo gli animali, infatti, non sono punibili…

… On the contrary, to regard a person as deserving of punishment is implicitly to affirmhis dignity as a human being, for it is to acknowledge that he has free will and moral responsibility, unlike a robot or a mere animal…

Il cattolico che si oppone si chiede: ma cosa merita la pena di morte?…

… Tollefsen also suggests that there are difficulties in determining which offenses merit capital punishment…

Qui siamo di nuovo sul tema della precisione: poiché è impossibile essere precisi, si sospenda il giudizio.

Ma ce lo si puo’ chiedere anche avendo in mente 15 anni di carcere, eppure questo non delegittima il carcere…

… We do not need to settle the question of whether an embezzler deserves fifteen years in prison or only ten in order to know that imprisonment as such can be a legitimate punishment…

Altra obiezione cattolica: come possiamo essere per la pena di morte e contro l’aborto?

Innocenza e colpevolezza della vittima fanno la differenza, è abbastanza evidente…

…What is intrinsically wrong is the intentional killing of an innocent human being. That is why, contrary to what Tollefsen insinuates, those who oppose abortion and euthanasia but support capital punishment are perfectly consistent in their thinking…

Tirando le somme, chi si oppone alla pena di morte ha solo un modo per farlo: rinnegare la proporzionalità della pena…

…The crimes of serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy, or of genocidal dictators like Hitler or Stalin, are obviously far worse than those of someone guilty only of (say) a single, painless murder or treason. Given the principle of proportionality, then, they merit a harsher penalty. Of course, in practice, such a penalty might be impossible to inflict: there is no way to execute a Bundy or a Hitler more than once. Hence, in practice, a sadistic mass murderer may end up receiving the same punishment as someone guilty of a single murder. On Tollefsen’s view, however, the worst of these offenses ought never, even in principle, to be punished more severely than the others; they do not entail a penalty proportional to their gravity…

In caso contrario, l’esito è l’incoerenza

… In short, the legitimacy of punishment entails desert, and desert entails proportionality; hence, to deny proportionality is implicitly to deny desert, and thus to deny the legitimacy of punishment. Though Tollefsen affirms the legitimacy of punishment explicitly, he denies it implicitly insofar as he denies the principle of proportionality…

Eppure l’oppositore rivendica il fatto che ci siano atti intrinsecamente immorali

… Rape, he correctly notes, is “intrinsically wrong” and thus “not available as an option for punishment…

Noi non stupriamo lo stupratore. Perché?

Vediamo più da vicino il caso dello stupratore…

… Rape, however, essentially involves several harms— there are the humiliation and bodily harm inflicted on the victim, but there is also the sexual perversion and sadism by which the rapist harms his own character. Now to indulge in such sexual perversion and sadism is intrinsically immoral; and therefore rape is intrinsically immoral, even if carried out as a punishment… the principle of proportionality… it implies, at most, only that a rapist deserves the humiliation and bodily harm he has inflicted on others…

Lo stupratore danneggia una vittima (stupro) e anche se stesso (perversione), la proporzionalità riguarda il primo danno, non il secondo; se nel punire in modo proporzionale il secondo effetto è evitabile, è giusto evitarlo: per questo non stupriamo lo stupratore ma ricorriamo ad altre pene che preservano la proporzionalità senza indulgere nella perversione e quindi creare ripercussioni spiacevoli su chi punisce. Nel caso dello stupro è possibile agire in questi termini. Al contrario, nel caso della pena di morte, la rinuncia ad infliggerla è una rinuncia alla proporzionalità.

Altro argomento degli oppositori: la vita è un bene primario

… while “instrumental goods” such as “liberty and money” may be taken away from an offender in punishment for his offense, a “basic or intrinsic” good such as human life cannot be…

Risposta: la libertà forse no? Cos’è una vita senza libertà?…

… After all, life by itself can’t be what gives human beings their dignity; plants and non-human animals also have life, and yet Tollefsen would not deny that it is legitimate to kill them… Tollefsen regards this liberty as a “merely instrumental” good, the taking away of which is not contrary to human dignity!… Given that it is our capacity for rationality and free choice that affords us our special dignity, liberty of action would seem to be no less basic and intrinsic a good than life is…

Altra obiezione: ma se uccido non posso “correggere”…

… The reader writes: I would think that even if the retributive goal of punishment would prescribe death for the perpetrator, capital punishment could still be (and, I think, is) illegitimate in theory, let alone in practice, because it neutralizes the second goal of punishment, rehabilitation. It is in this sense — neutralizing the possibility of rehabilitation — that capital punishment seems to me to most completely attack the dignity of the criminals in that it robs from them any possibility of making amends for their crimes…

Risposta, la compatibilità non è richiesta, qui si rinvia al discorso della funzione retributiva come funzione primaria: noi incarceriamo anche gli incorreggibili

… punishment has three purposes– retribution, rehabilitation, and deterrence– does not entail that each of these purposes must be realized in a given act of punishment in order for that act to be morally legitimate. For example, we may justly imprison a recidivist thief even if we know from experience that he is extremely unlikely to change… the fact that a given act of capital punishment may not fulfill all of the ends of punishment does not by itself suffice to make that act morally illegitimate…

E poi: a volte, è proprio infliggendo una pena proporzionale che il colpevole prende atto della gravità delle proprie colpe…

… Second, while there is obviously a sense in which capital punishment can prevent rehabilitation, there is also a sense in which it actuallyfacilitates rehabilitation. How so? Consider first that a wrongdoer cannot truly be rehabilitated until he comes to acknowledge the gravity of his offense. But the gravity of an offense is more manifest when the punishments for that offense reflect its gravity… In short, a society in which capital punishment is at least on the books– in which it is at least officially acknowledged that those guilty of the worst crimes are deserving of death, even if that penalty is never in fact inflicted– is a society more likely to foster rehabilitation, not less likely… Moreover, merely having the death penalty on the books may be insufficient to convey the gravity of the worst crimes. An actual execution now and again may be necessary convey this gravity, and thus to facilitate rehabilitation…

Questo non significa che l’opera riabilitativa non sia un buon motivo per limitare l’uso della pena di morte.

Altra obiezione: con la pena di morte facciamo un’altra vittima, il boia

… your article appears to forget the person responsible for carrying out the punishment, the executioner. I thought that you were headed in this direction when you mentioned not inflicting rape on rapists; it seems to me that, from a purely retributive perspective, the rapist might deserve rape. And the most compelling reason for not raping him is the effect on the humanity of the person responsible for carrying out the punishment. Similarly, throughout history, we have sought ways to minimize the effects of execution on the executioner…

E’ una variazione sul tema dello “stupro” affrontato sopra: giusto tenerne conto, finché non si pregiudica il principio di proporzionalità della pena

… Capital punishment is just the taking of someone’s life, where the person has lost his right to that life. There is no additional factor involved that would give the act anything of the moral character of murder, in the way that raping a rapist would involve acts that have part of the moral character of rape…

Per esempio, il caso della tortura

… What if we merely tortured the rapist, leaving the sexual aspect out…

Lecita in via di principio ma pericolosa e da evitare sempre poiché si puo’ farlo senza pregiudicare la proporzionalità della pena…

… I would say that he does deserve it, but I would agree that we should still not inflict such a punishment on him. Why not? The reason is that the moral hazards involved in such a practice are too great. Human beings naturally tend to recoil at inflicting pain on others or causing them bodily damage. The reason nature has given us such feelings is that it is, in general, good for us to avoid inflicting pain…

La pena di morte ci desensibilizza? Anche le operazioni chirurgiche, se è per questo…

… Since capital punishment is no more inherently wrong than surgery or police work are, neither is desensitizing oneself to executing the guilty any more inherently wrong than desensitizing oneself to performing heart surgery…

Passiamo ad un tema più psicologico: perché molti cattolici oggi si oppongono alla pena di morte?

Recentemente una seconda visione della legge naturale ha preso piede anche nel mondo cattolico (John Finnis ne è il maggior artefice)…

… On the one hand, there is what we might call the “traditional” or “classical” natural law theory, one of the key assumptions of which is that ethics crucially depends on certain traditional metaphysical theses, such as realism about universals (of the sort historically associated with Plato and Aristotle), a belief that there are final causes in nature, and so forth. On the other hand, we have what has come to be known as the “new natural law theory,” which tries to reconstruct a broadly natural law approach to ethics without appealing to any of these metaphysical assumptions… John Finnis… For the “new natural law” approach, it isn’t that determining the content of morality crucially depends on knowing whether there really is a God or whether we really have immortal souls… rather, what is crucial is that we have a need for religious fulfillment of some broadly defined sort…

Secondo questa visione i precetti etici valgono indipendentemente dalla realtà metafisica sottostante.

I cattolici che si oppongono alla pena di morte credono in Dio ma scollegano la sua esistenza da molte riflessioni morali che conducono.

E’ possibile farlo, sia chiaro, ma imprudente poiché la cosa ha conseguenze impreviste, se non sul piano logico, su quello psicologico.

In particolare, se una vita terrena viene vista senza la sua dimensione ultraterrena potrebbe assumere un’ importanza persino eccessiva inducendo a giudizi distorti…

… Now if the “new natural law theory” is poorly interpreted as strictly entailing hostility to capital punishment, it is, as I suggested earlier, not too hard to see why its advocates might nevertheless be tempted to such hostility. If you limit yourself in your moral reasoning to this-worldly considerations, it is not surprising if you might inadvertently come to overestimate the value of life in this world… Life in this world cannot be a basic good, at least not in the sense required for Chris’s argument, if its point is preparation for life in the next world…

E’ un paradosso ma il materialista finisce per sovrastimare la vita umana: è tutto quel che ha!

In certi cattolici c’è un ateismo strisciante e un’idolatria della vita biologica fine a se stessa…

… While “new natural law” theorists are certainly not atheists, and while a commitment to theism is not strictly necessary to the moral defense of capital punishment, there does seem to be at least a psychological and sociological connection between hostility to capital punishment and a kind of “practical atheism,”… naturally tends to lead to a desire to extend the natural lifespan, even of murderers, as far as possible and at all costs…

Il concetto di natura umana è mutato nei secoli: per i moderni la vita biologica vale più della vita libera

… The medievals emphasized individual guilt, and therefore individual responsibility. Moderns minimize or even deny individual responsibility or guilt, dissolving human agency into the nexus of physical causation, obsessing over our “collective responsibility” for this or that, and emphasizing “structural” rather than personal elements of justice and social life…

Da qui una certa ossessione per il concetto di dignità del vivente a prescindere…

… True, the rhetoric of “human dignity” has increased in modern times; indeed, modern people simply won’t shut up about it, even as they kill their own unborn children by the millions and live lives of depravity unimaginable to previous generations. If medieval people talked less about their own dignity, it is because they were more concerned about God’s dignity; if modern people talk more about it, it is because they are more concerned with themselves…

Anche per questo l’insegnamento tradizionale della Chiesa in tema di pena di morte è sempre stato per un’accettazione della sua piena legittimità…

… The constant teaching of the Church has always been, not only that capital punishment is in principle legitimate, but also that it is in principle legitimate precisely as a means of securing retributive justice…

Almeno fino alla svolta di Giovanni Paolo II

… John Paul II’s views on this subject were a departure from traditional Catholic attitudes, which have always upheld not only the in-principle legitimacy of the death penalty, but also its appropriateness in many practical circumstances…

Una svolta a cui si sono fatte le pulci in modo autorevole…

… “If the Pope were to deny that the death penalty could be an exercise of retributive justice, he would be overthrowing the tradition of two millennia of Catholic thought, denying the teaching of several previous popes, and contradicting the teaching of Scripture (notably in Genesis 9: 5-6 and Romans 13: 1-4). I doubt whether the tradition is reversible at all, but even if it were, the reversal could hardly be accomplished by an incidental section in a long encyclical [i.e. John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae] focused primarily on the defense of innocent human life. If the Pope were contradicting the tradition, one could legitimately question whether his statement outweighed the established teaching of so many past centuries.” (National Catholic Register March 24-31, 2002)…

… e convincente, se è vero come è vero che l’insegnamento del Papa è stato interpretato dai più solo come “prudenziale”…

… John Paul II’s view must be interpreted as a prudential judgment (with which, again, Dulles happens to agree)– a fallible application of traditional principles to contingent circumstances, not a denial of traditional principles…

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