David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Continental Philosophy Review 44 (1):41-64 (2011)
Most readers believe that it is difficult, verging on the impossible, to extract concrete prescriptions from the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas. Although this view is largely correct, Levinas’ philosophy can, with some assistance, generate specific duties on the part of legal actors. In this paper, I argue that the fundamental premises of Levinas’ theory of justice can be used to construct a prohibition against capital punishment. After analyzing Levinas’ concepts of justice, responsibility, and interruption, I turn toward his scattered remarks on legal institutions, arguing that they enable a sense of interruption specific to the legal domain. It is here that we find the conceptual resources most important to my Levinasian abolition. I argue that the interruption of legal justice by responsibility implies what I call the principle of revisability. The principle of revisability states a necessary condition of just legal institutions: To be just, legal institutions must ensure the possibility of revising any and all of their rules, principles, and judgments. From this, the argument against capital punishment easily follows. Execution is a legal act, perhaps the only legal act, that cannot be undone. An application of the principle of revisability to this fact leads to the conclusion that legal institutions cannot justly impose capital punishment. After defending these points at length, I conclude with some observations on the consequences of the principle of revisability for law more generally.
|Keywords||capital punishment death penalty Emmanuel Levinas Continental Philosophy criminal law|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
John Rawls (2009/2005). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press 133-135.
Diane Perpich (2008). The Ethics of Emmanuel Levinas. Stanford University Press.
Simon Critchley (1999). The Ethics of Deconstruction Derrida and Levinas. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
Simon Critchley (2007). Infinitely Demanding. Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance. Appraisal 6.
Lawrence B. Solum (2004). Procedural Justice. Southern California Law Review 78:181.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Benjamin S. Yost (2011). The Irrevocability of Capital Punishment. Journal of Social Philosophy 42 (3):321-340.
Patrick Lenta & Douglas Farland (2008). Desert, Justice and Capital Punishment. Criminal Law and Philosophy 2 (3):273-290.
Adina Nicoleta Gavrilă (2011). Should the Death Penalty Be Abolished? Arguments for and Against the Centuries-Old Punishment. Journal for Communication and Culture 1 (2):82-98.
Thom Brooks (2004). Retributivist Arguments Against Capital Punishment. Journal of Social Philosophy 35 (2):188–197.
Joseph B. R. Gaie (2004). The Ethics of Medical Involvement in Capital Punishment: A Philosophical Discussion. Kluwer Academic.
William A. Edmundson (2002). Afterword: Proportionality and the Difference Death Makes. Criminal Justice Ethics 21 (2):40-43.
Thomas W. Satre (1991). Human Dignity and Capital Punishment. Journal of Philosophical Research 16:233-250.
Thom Brooks (2012). Punishment. Routledge.
James B. Johnston, The Bridge Connecting Pontius Pilate's Sentencing of Jesus to the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission's Concerns Over Executing the Innocent: When Human Beings with Inherently Human Flaws Determine Guilt or Innocence and Life or Death.
Matthew H. Kramer (2011). The Ethics of Capital Punishment: A Philosophical Investigation of Evil and its Consequences. OUP Oxford.
Marguerite la Caze (2009). Derrida: Opposing Death Penalties. Derrida Today 2 (2):186-199.
Benjamin S. Yost (2010). Kant's Justification of the Death Penalty Reconsidered. Kantian Review 15 (2):1-27.
Christopher Bennett (2013). Considering Capital Punishment as a Human Interaction. Criminal Law and Philosophy 7 (2):367-382.
Added to index2011-02-11
Total downloads151 ( #11,315 of 1,724,892 )
Recent downloads (6 months)40 ( #28,901 of 1,724,892 )
How can I increase my downloads?