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Morality, Ethics, Legal Moralism and Retributive Justice

1. Read and Respond to Situation 3. Is the mother legally culpable but morally blameless, both legally and morally culpable, or some other combination.

Situation 3

You are selected for a jury in a trial of a 64-year-old mother who killed her two adult sons. The two men were institutionalized and suffered from Huntington's disease, a degenerative brain disease. They were certain to die and would endure much pain and suffering before they did. Her husband had also died from this same disease and she had nursed him through his suffering. She took a gun into the nursing home, kissed her sons goodbye, and shot them both through the head. She was arrested for first-degree murder. The prosecutor informs you that there is no "mercy killing" defense in the law as it is written.

2. Why is criminal culpability difficult to determine?

3. Explain the pros and cons of legal moralism as a justification for law, and answer in 200-300 words, what do you think about legal moralism?

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Hi,

Interesting questions! Let's take a closer look through discussion and research, which you can then draw on for your final discussion paper. I also attached one supporting article, which is referred to in this response.

RESPONSE:

1. Read and Respond to Situation 3. Is the mother legally culpable but morally blameless, both legally and morally culpable, or some other combination?

Situation 3: You are selected for a jury in a trial of a 64-year-old mother who killed her two adult sons. The two men were institutionalized and suffered from Huntington's disease, a degenerative brain disease. They were certain to die and would endure much pain and suffering before they did. Her husband had also died from this same disease and she had nursed him through his suffering. She took a gun into the nursing home, kissed her sons goodbye, and shot them both through the head. She was arrested for first-degree murder. The prosecutor informs you that there is no "mercy killing" defense in the law as it is written.

Is the mother legally culpable but morally blameless, both legally and morally culpable, or some other combination?

It depends on what theory you hold about what is right and wrong. I think she is both legally culpable and morally culpable, based on my personal beliefs and values of what is right and wrong. I was raised Roman Catholic, so killing another person is morally wrong, based on the Ten Commandments and Jesus's word to love one another in the New Testament. Because it is morally wrong, I also think it should be legally wrong as well.

What do you think?

Now let's look at the following two questions.

1. Why is criminal culpability difficult to determine?

Criminal culpability is often difficult to determine, mainly how one interprets the rightness or wrongness of actions are often based on different theories of what contributes right from wrong. This is shown above in my interpretation of the scenario based on my theory of right and wrong.

For example, someone who things that mercy killing is not wrong, but instead the 'right' action, then, in the above scenario, s/he would probably not find the woman culpable of any wrong doing (legally or morally), because the woman would be seen as actually showing 'mercy' to her two sons by ending their pain (by ending their life), which is the main argument behind mercy killing. Therefore, in this case, the woman would not be legally guilty. However, some proponents in this camp where mercy killing is not considered wrong, might still think the person is morally accountable for killing her sons, but still considered legally culpable. Others, however, would think that she was NOT either legally and morally ...

Solution Summary

Referring to the scenario, this solution discusses if the mother is legally culpable but morally blameless, both legally and morally culpable, or some other combination. It also discusses why criminal culpability is difficult to determine and explains the pros and cons of legal moralism as a justification for law. It then explores legal moralism and supplements with an article on legal moralism for further research.

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