Why Doesn't Batman Just Kill The Joker?

First Joker commits a crime, then Batman catches him and locks him up. Then, Joker invariably escapes and the cycle starts anew. So, wouldn't it be far easier if Batman just killed his archnemesis? What's stopping him?

That wasn't an idle comic store chit-chat - rather it was an example given by philosophy professors to introduce coursework:

William Irwin, a philosophy professor at King's College in Pennsylvania, edits the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, which includes titles such as Batman and Philosophy, and X-Men and Philosophy.

He says there's nothing unusual about using popular references to illustrate complex theories.

"This is what philosophy has tried to do from the very beginning," he says. "Philosophy starts with Socrates in the streets of Athens taking his message to the people and speaking in their language - agricultural analogies and common mythology."

Katie Connolly of BBC News writes about the growing use of comic book characters to teach philosophy: Link - via Cliff Pickover's Reality Carnival

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Batman operates outside the law, so society's rules don't bind him. The only restraint is his own moral code. People are really good at justifying our own behavior, making exceptions and violations of rules we accept seem valid to ourselves. Batman doesn't want to go down that slope and become a murderous psychopath, so he made one iron clad rule and he sticks to it at all costs.

I think those who mentioned Rorschach and Nietzsche are spot on.
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Technically no its not morally wrong to not kill someone for the sake of protecting potential victims if batman ever did kill someone it probably be in a indirect way like we almost saw in the Dark Knight.
Joker's going come on come on knowing that the bat would act through this process but at the last second Batman decides not too.
@Alex if you went back in time and killed Hitler do you know what is most likely to happen. Someone worse would come along. and if you killed him someone worse would come along. Until the world erupted in a nuclear holocaust. It's the philosophical butterfly flapping its wings
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@seekshelter and @gauldar: But why is it Batman's job to apprehend the Joker in the first place? Isn't that the job of the police?

So. For all practical purposes, Batman is involved. The philosophical question is: If he could save the lives of the Joker's future victims but didn't - is he in a way responsible for their deaths?

Is Batman's inaction (or refusal to kill the Joker and be done with it) a morally wrong choice?
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