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Eye for an Eye

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The film “Eye for an eye” (1996) reveals a highly-controversial issue of moral justification of the “eye for an eye” principle. The plot of the film is concentrated on the portrayal of the way the main character plans and kills an offender who gets away with his crimes. The main artistic message of the film is justification of eye for an eye principle; and the director makes the viewer approve of heroine’s actions aimed at revenge. Thus, the events of the plot arouse negative attitude towards the killer who remains unpunished. Consequently, the viewers start to support the principle of eye for an eye. Yet, certain questions arise. Can it be morally justified? Can the cases of killing in self-defense or in defense of a loved one when there are no other ways of escaping death be equal to planned killing?

It goes without saying that killing is violation of any moral rules. At the same time, there is argument that there are justifiable exceptions to the principle of forbiddance of killing. Stephen Nathanson writes that “... if we grant that there are some justifiable exceptions to the moral principle forbidding killing, then it may be that the execution of murderers by the state is one of these exceptions” ( 6).

At the same time, it is necessary to stress that killing in self-defense is considered to be justifiable on the ground that every person has a right to live and defend one’s life. The principle of “an eye for an eye” cannot be a plausible theory of punishment for a number of reasons. Stephen Natheanson claims that practical application of this principle is impossible. Thus, for instance, this principle requires equal severity to the crime. Consequently, a rapist and the one who murdered many victims cannot be punished the same way.

Hence, it can be concluded that despite the fact that principle of an eye for an eye can be emotionally very appealing though it cannot be applied as a guide for punishment in a civilized society.

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