Social Justice -- Kantian Paradigm Term Paper

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Further, the physical well-being of everyone should be respected and there should be a guarantee that a "minimum level of material well-being, including basic [human needs], must be met by society, Peffer posits, explaining his view of Rawlsianism. The functions of a human being are important to respect, and basic liberties including: freedom of speech, assembly, thought, movement and other rights should be respected, Peffer continues.

Moreover, freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure should be the rule of law. These are items that are written into the U.S. Constitution, so they should be familiar to all educated Americans as well. First of all, what about freedom from arbitrary governmental decisions to put a man to death who is delusional? And did the social inequalities benefit the least advantaged in the case of Patterson? Not at all. The social inequalities thanks to Perry -- who has a way of rewarding those that give him hundreds of thousands of dollars to be a politician, but looks the other way when a delusional handicapped person is about to be killed legally -- are looming very large. And yet Perry continues to campaign as though he is truly qualified to become president of the United States, when there are very serious questions related to his abilities, to his brand of politics, to his payoffs for the campaign dollars he receives.

Due process is part of the Rawlsianism paradigm. Did Patterson receive due process? In spite of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that mentally disabled persons are not to be put to death in any state, Perry turned the other way and apparently needed to appease the conservatives that put him in office and pay him handsomely for his brand of politics. What is due process?

According to the U.S. Constitution, due process refers to how laws are enforced, and why they are enforced. It applies to immigrants that are undocumented, it refers to citizens that vote, to corporations, and it should have applied to Patterson, who while being severely disabled mentally, is still (was still) a citizen. In the 5th Amendment to the Constitution, due process alludes to the federal government and the courts of the government along with the agencies of the government. In the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, due process is protected in regards to state governments and agencies and courts.

This is where Texas comes into the picture. When an unreasonable law is passed, or a law is disobeyed (as it was in the case of Perry allowing Patterson to be put to death), due process makes that ruling unconstitutional. In fact in the Roe v. Wade abortion decision the High Court ruled the Texas law violated due process that in the first trimester, it is unreasonable for the state of Texas to interfere with a woman's right to an abortion.

Rawlsianism also involves the good of self-respect. And how can a state in the U.S. have a sense of self-respect when its governor pockets hundreds of thousands of dollars from his political contributors -- in return for plum government positions that help the elite and the rich and the powerful -- to further his political career, and on the other hand authorize the death of a man who is clearly disabled mentally? The legacy of Rick Perry has not been written as of yet regarding his desire for the highest office in the land, but it would seem a long shot. Maybe while he is fully aware he won't be elected, he sees personal profit and prestige in the fact that he ran for office. He is also eligible for the basic liberties that are part of Rawlsianism -- that is, the freedom to run for "and hold political office" and the right to "free political speech…"

Law & Social Justice -- Libertarianism Paradigm

Since Libertarianism, among other things, refers to a basic moral principle, and relates to the moral duties that humans owe to others, an alert reader can see this raises a question about Rick Perry's moral decision to pull the trigger on a mentally disabled person. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains that libertarianism opposes laws that restrict private sexual relationships between adults, and opposes laws that restrict the person use of drugs, so it seems to be a progressive movement. The Libertarian Party however boils it down to a more practical philosophy. People are free to do as they choose, as long as others are not harmed.

And so governor Perry was free to do as he believed he had the right to do, and basically handed Patterson the death sentence. But wait, Libertarianism says as long as "you don't harm the person and property of others," and in this case there was harm done to a human being, albeit that human was not in possession of all his faculties. Liberals are libertarians on social issues and conservatives cling to libertarianism on economic issues.

Respecting the rights and property of others is key to libertarianism, and while this paper is not supposed to be engaged in defining the paradigms -- just relating them to the article in question from the New York Times -- the Stanford definition leads to additional links with the issue of Rick Perry. Stanford insists that libertarianism can be advocated as "a full theory of moral permissibility, but more often it is advocated as a theory of justice. That theory of justice is in two parts. One, humans have moral duties that are owed to our communities, our neighborhoods, our families. And two justice is related to the "morally enforceable duties" that all humans have. What was Perry's moral duty when it came to a man on death row who actually believed that some space alien planted a machine inside of him and controls him?

In the New York Times article Jeff Blackburn, who is chief counsel of the Innocence Project of Texas (this group advocates for prisoners that are wrongfully accused), says that Perry approaches criminal justice issues like a lay person instead of a judge or prosecutor. In that sense, Perry stays open-minded and, Blackburn asserts, "willing to embarrass the system, unless of course, it involves the death penalty" (Sontag, p. 2). When it comes to the death penalty, "Rick Perry has a profound mental block," said Blackburn. "The death penalty is part of our fine state's religion; it's somewhere up there with football. To oppose or weaken it would be like playing with dynamite, and Rick Perry, a quintessentially political person, is not going to blow himself up" (Sontag, p. 2).

Part of Libertarianism that resonates with people is that it stands for the absence of forcible interference (didn't Perry forcibly interfere with a High Court ruling?) with the rights of others. And it should be reported in this paper what Perry said when he explained why he rejected clemency in upholding the execution of Patterson; "No one can guarantee this defendant would not be freed to commit other crimes were his sentence commuted" (Sontag, p. 2). That is a patently absurd statement to make, given that Patterson would not become eligible for parole under Texas law until he was 74. It is not like allowing him to serve a life sentence in some institution was going to allow him to be back on the streets. Libertarianism addresses moral permissibility, and justice, and moral duties; and on all of those counts Perry can be counted as having either avoided or violated the tenets of the paradigm.

How can a man who has been elected three times as governor of Texas make statements that are so off base when trying to justify putting Patterson to death. This is also a governor that interfered with the commission created by the legislature, a commission that looked into the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. Perry replaced the chairman of the commission with a prosecutor who delayed the investigation for over a year, Sontag writes (p. 3). Willingham was accused of complicity in the deaths of his three daughters in a house fire; but there was a last minute report from a respected arson expert that "cast doubt on" Willingham's guilt. Perry had Willingham executed anyway, and again, delayed the investigation into the Willingham issue by inserting his own political crony into the commission. He had the liberty to do that, under Libertarianism, but he did not have the moral right to do it.

Law & Social Justice -- Utilitarianism Paradigm

The concept of utilitarianism is that morality relates to the maximization of utility for all parties that are affected by a given decision. What is considered decision that can create or offer the "greatest good" is the one that should prevail. Did Rick Perry share the greatest good among the greatest number of people in his decisions?

First of all, Perry vetoed a bill passed by the Texas legislature that would prohibit the execution of mentally disabled people. That opened the door for him to put Patterson to death. Secondly, he…[continue]

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