Crime-stopping medicine: swapping the death penalty for drugs

Crime-stopping medicine: swapping the death penalty for drugs


Hello and welcome to Oxplore the home of big questions today we’re going to be talking to dr. David Burke’s who is a specialist in political philosophy at the University of Oxford and he’s gonna be helping us to think about how and why the death penalty is used as a form of punishment and whether or not it’s a good one or whether there might be better alternatives out there and this discussion is part of our big question is the death penalty ok so David let’s dive right in is there a better form of punishment and the death penalty well i think the first question is why should we punish people anyway don’t think it’s okay to lock up innocent people in the street we think that you would have had to committed a criminal offense for it to be okay to send someone to prison for example so the question is why should we punch anyone at all and there’s a lot of different theories and some people think we should punish people to deter other people from committing offences so if you know that you’re going to be sent to prison you’re less likely to commit a crime that’s going to send you to prison other people think that we should punish people to change the character of the criminal if we if we send to jail they’re gonna change as per people that can be less likely to commit crimes but then some other people think that well you don’t some bad things now you deserve to have some bad things done to you so with the death penalty and we can see you have this tips many of these boxes so know if you think that you’re going to be killed when you commit a crime and your it seems like a reasonable to think that you’re less likely to commit those crimes and also that dying is what one worst possible things that could happen to you and so if you think well a bad person does it’s bad things happen to them well killing them seems like a pretty bad thing but personally i think the punishment should try and rehabilitate the offender and the death penalty just doesn’t do this so what I’m with months to try and figure out if there are better ways to punish criminals ok well can you give us an example of that so what I’m currently really interested in is use of medicine to make people less likely to commit crimes so some scientists think that I’m changing the chemicals in a person’s brain and you can make them less fine less aggressive and if we had a drug that could change the chemicals in some spray it could work to reduce crime so for example one of the chemicals in the brain serotonin and some scientists think that if we increase you manage serotonin in someone’s brain they’re less likely to be violent or aggressive so some scientists are very interested in developing new drugs that could prevent bad people from doing bad things in future such as violent crimes other people think that we could use deep brain stimulation to make people less likely to commit crimes so at the moment use deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s and this is where we insert implant actually into the brain and send electricity into various parts of the ground and this could potentially change that person’s behavior so maybe this potential to use deep brain stimulation to make them less likely to commit a crime so obviously this is a long way off in the future but a lot of scientists are really excited about the possibility of switching something in a criminal sprain to make them no longer commit a crime so in what ways would that be a better punishment the death penalty well first of all it’s going to be a lot cheaper and these drugs potential only cost a few dollars per dose whereas we know that the death penalty is really expensive no incarceration is really expensive so that would be one reason to prefer it to another reason might really like drugs that they’re going to be more effective than incarceration I mean admittedly it’s not going to be as effective as the death penalty because of course when you’re dead you’re not gonna be able to commit any crimes but prison actually isn’t that effective at preventing crime I mean obviously if you’re locked up there are lots of crimes you’re unable to commit but reoffending rates are really high when prisoners a letter of prison and I think the final reason to really be interested in using medicine to prevent crime that you can think it’s a lot more humane I mean after all if you all locked up in prison you’re going to damage your relationships going to damage your career prospects it’s also going to harm your dependency if you have kids not gonna be able to support them but these drugs will enable the criminals to live a good life outside of prison so they’ll be able to maintain their relationships able to look after their kids will be able to keep their jobs and that seems a really important reason to think that these drugs are interesting at least but some people think that’s just too good for criminals punishment is meant to make the person suffer this doesn’t make the person suffer that much it’s too good for them and that’s why the death penalty is attractive that’s why prisons attracted because at least if you lock someone up there going to be miserable they’re going to lose their children they’re gonna not be able to do the things they love about these drugs are going to enable the criminal to live a normal happy life that wouldn’t be wrong to force someone to take those kind of drugs they’re gonna change their personality and I think that’s a fair point but you’ve gotta think is that worse than being killed it worst be forced to take these drugs band to have your life ended or it is even worse to be have your personality changed a bit but you can still maintain your friendships your career and look up to your children it seems that even if you think it’s bad to have your personality changed it’s not the worst thing that could happen to you dying is probably one of the worst thing that can happen to you or maybe we could give the criminal choice between taking these drugs or facing the death penalty would that be ok now some people think that you can’t possibly consent to that sort of drunk when you’re faced with death or doing something you it’s your pretty much always going to choose to do that thing so a lot of people don’t think it’s a real choice it’s not a meaningful choice because when your face between the decision of choosing death or anything else you’re pretty much always going to choose anything else rather than dying and so you’re just practically forcing the drugs on them you’re just pretending to give them a choice it’s a false choice well you can imagine if you’re in hospital and you’re going to die unless you receive this painful operation and the doctor says would you like to have this operation you think that you can agree to the operation you think that’s a free choice even though you’re faced with death receiving something so what’s the difference hip ok but what kind of implications might not have the wider society but 11 question then is that why we need administering these drugs to criminals why didn’t get these drugs to people before they committed a crime and what be wrong with that so you could imagine that you could imagine a crime free society we all are on these drugs and no one is committing any crime to all law abiding and what will be the problem with that how do you feel if a person came along and after you a drug that would make you a better person would you take that drug even if you knew it would fundamentally change you were as a person and what if they didn’t offer it to you but they forced you to take it they thought that this is what’s good for you i’m going to do what’s best for you by making you take is drunk how would you feel about that of course the problem then we’ll be that your face of the country for the drug people having the freedom taken away the freedom to choose with it want these drugs and would that be worthwhile would that be a price with pain you might think these drugs have problems you might think these are ideal they’re not perfect they’re going to have side effects as well they’re not going to just simply make a person less likely to commit crime they’re going to change other aspects of their behavior that we think it’s perfectly legal perfectly morally correct we’re going to change those parts of them too but still fighting that surprised with paying when you’re attentive could be say the death penalty when we’re killing them these drugs they are not perfect but surely they’re better than death well there’s a very interesting argument you’ve certainly given us some great stuff to be thinking about but you know ultimately it isn’t really about what Professor books thinks is the right answer it’s about what you think about how you cast your vote for this big question but thanks so much for being with us today david has been really great to hear your perspective it’s a pleasure and for those of you listening in thanks Rox flooring this question with us we hope you enjoyed it will catch you next

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