Southern Journal of Philosophy 50:160-173 (2012)
|Abstract||Responding to Elizabeth Rottenberg's invitation to consider good signs, I first raise a question about “good” and “too good” signs by referring to a letter of Louis Althusser's that describes the risk that “too good” signs will be misread. I then turn to the distinction Rottenberg makes between deconstructive signs and Immanuel Kant's historical signs. Borrowing an image from Jacques Derrida's The Animal That Therefore I Am (2008), I suggest that we think of the task of abolition of the death penalty as requiring a particular kind of strangulation of Kantian discourse, a strangulation that would reach the center of its nervous system and disarm its powers without putting it to death. Finally, I turn to a recent initiative by a Belgian nongovernmental organization (Groupe d'action dans l'interet des animaux or Global Action in the Interest of Animals [GAIA]) in their campaign to abolish the practice of castrating piglets without anesthetic, reading it as an example of a strategy that mobilizes the discourse of rights while at the same time undermining the sovereign power that sustains it. This provides an image of the sort of stranglehold with a certain lightness of touch that, I argue, Derrida's work on the death penalty prescribes as the task for unconditional abolition|
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