- File Size: 1455 KB
- Print Length: 426 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1621641260
- Publisher: Ignatius Press (July 31, 2017)
- Publication Date: July 31, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B074FD7P4P
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #819,367 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment Kindle Edition
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"At long last, we have a serious and intelligent look at all aspects of the death penalty its causes, its justification, its consequences for the victim, the criminal himself, and for civil society." --James V. Schall, S. J., Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University
"An illuminating study of a subject often clouded by emotions. An essential read for anyone who wants to understand this thorny subject."
Robert Royal,President, Faith and Reason Institute
"The arguments in this book have clarified many of the contentions of this critical issue in my mind." --Fr. Robert A. Sirico, President, The Acton Institute --This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
Edward Feser is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California. Called by National Review "one of the best contemporary writers on philosophy," he is the author of The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, Aquinas, Scholastic Metaphysics, and many other books and articles.
Joseph Bessette is a Professor of Government and Ethics at Claremont McKenna College (CMC) in Southern California, and also teaches in the Dept. of Politics and Policy at the Claremont Graduate University. He has a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago. Prior to arriving at CMC, Bessette worked nine years in criminal justice.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
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Catholics are constantly telling me that a Catholic can not support the death penalty and still be a true Catholic and take communion. Naturally this is disturbing to me since the scriptures say otherwise and the Catholic Church definitely follows the scriptures. When I saw, By Man shall His Blood Be Shed, advertised I immediately ordered it and devoured it like a starving lady.
This book has restored my faith in the Church and helped me to see that strong Catholics now and through the ages knew God did not expect mankind to live amongst horrific murderers; that have done deeds no one could ever imagine a human being would or could do. This book explains to all reasonable folks that life is in the blood and God made know the sacredness of life from the beginning of time. My thanks goes to Mr. Feser and Mr. Bessette for researching and writing this book. May God bless their effforts.
While the work takes the Catholic faith as a given, everyone would benefit from reading it. The philosophical section gives lucid words and arguments to the intuitions of the vast majority of Americans and is, moreover, exhaustive, taking on some four or five others schools of thought. The analysis of the deterring effect of capital punishment in the social science section is alone worth the price of the book.
If you're not Catholic, buy a copy for yourself. If you're Catholic, buy one for yourself and one for your bishop.
What the average Catholic won’t know, before reading this book, is the extent (overwhelming) of the confirmation in Church teaching in support of the basic morality of capital punishment. The multiplicity of biblical citations, the uniformity of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the universality of the theologians before 1960, just completely eliminates the notion that there is any room for debate on the point in Church doctrine. Read it and see. The so-called leaders in the Church who pretend that they can say capital punishment is immoral in principle do so only by neglecting to actually consider and reflect on Church teaching throughout 2000 years. Just in the last half of the 20th century alone, Pius XII and John Paul II both explicitly affirmed the moral licitness of capital punishment, basing this conclusion on the inherent nature of proportional retributive punishment.
If the book has any defects, it is that the authors made some arguments too briefly. Any book on teaching or apologetics must balance fullness with readability (and cost), so this isn’t much of a criticism (hence the 5 stars). More than likely, the fuller support for the underlying premises are to be found in the arguments for Scholastic Metaphysics, which (fortunately) Feser has also written for us.
Top international reviews
This is a scholarly and reflective work, not a polemic. It simply makes the case that the legitimacy of capital punishment is irreformable Catholic teaching, and also that capital punishment is sometimes justified in practice-- for particularly heinous homicides.
Feser and Bessette put together a pretty impressive collections of quotations from Scripture, Fathers of the Church, Doctors of the Church, Catechisms, and Popes, all defending the right of lawful authority to take human life, or "bear the sword" as St. Paul put it (Romans 13:4).
Of course, Pope Francis is a staunch opponent of the death penalty, and since the book's announcement he has changed the Catechism to describe the death penalty as "inadmissible", while insisting that doctrine has not changed. Many will argue that the Pontiff wields supreme authority in such matters. Others, such as the authors of this book, argue that even the Pope can be mistaken on a matter in which he is not speaking ex cathedra. Arguments over infallibility, its nature and limits, are always quite perplexing. The section of the book in which Feser and Bessette tackle this is quite complicated. They certainly make a strong case that the defence of the death penalty is well-established Catholic tradition, but is it "irreformable", or does the Pope retain the prerogative to change it, or develop it? I'm not sure. There are strong arguments on both sides.
The book also makes a secular, criminological case for the death penalty, though I found this less powerful. The most powerful argument of abolitionists is, perhaps, that capital punishment is not a deterrent. Feser and Bessette argue that this is not an established fact, and that research to this effect is rather overstated, but they don't establish the contrary, either.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is its potted history of abolitionism amongst Catholic bishops in America. This is of much more recent vintage than one might suppose. The single passage which impressed me the most in the book was the following: "The firm and unalterable opposition of the Church to abortion, euthanasia, homosexual behaviour, and "same-sex marriage", divorce and remarriage, fornication, and other practices common in contemporary society puts Catholic bishops in the position of facing relentless and harsh criticism from opinion makers, politics activists, academics, and dissidents within the Church. The temptation to find some common ground, some way to seem to the wider culture to be progressive rather than reactionary, can be overwhelming. Vigorous opposition to the death penalty appears to them to fit the bill." I think that is all too true.