Friday, November 23, 2007

Something to Ponder

while I'm studying the arguments for and against the death penalty:

Recommended Reading: The Heart Has its Reasons: Examining the Strange Persistence of the American Death Penalty
Studies in Law, Politics and Society, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2008

The debate about the future of the death penalty often focuses on
whether its supporters are animated by instrumental or expressive
values, and if the latter, what values the penalty does in fact
express, where those values originated, and how deeply entrenched they
are. In this article I argue that a more explicit recognition of the
emotional sources of support for and opposition to the death penalty
will contribute to the clarity of the debate. The focus on emotional
variables reveals that the boundary between instrumental and expressive
values is porous; both types of values are informed (or uninformed) by
fear, outrage, compassion, selective empathy and other emotional
attitudes. More fundamentally, though history, culture and politics are
essential aspects of the discussion, the resilience of the death
penalty cannot be adequately understood when the affect is stripped
from explanations for its support. Ultimately, the death penalty will
not die without a societal change of heart.

(Via Mirror of Justice.)

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