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Abstract

Many political philosophers today think of justice as fundamentally about fairness, while those who defend capital punishment typically hold that justice is fundamentally about desert. In this paper I show that justice as fairness calls for capital punishment because the continued existence of murderers increases unfairness between themselves and their victims, increasing the harm to murdered persons. Rescuing murdered persons from increasing harm is prima facie morally required, and so capital punishment is a prima facie duty of society and sentencing judges.1