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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, March 28, 2005

New Article Spotlight

Spotlight_8Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule of Chicago have posted Is Capital Punishment Morally Required?  The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Recent evidence suggests that capital punishment may have a significant deterrent effect, preventing as many eighteen or more murders for each execution. This evidence greatly unsettles moral objections to the death penalty, because it suggests that a refusal to impose that penalty condemns numerous innocent people to death. Capital punishment thus presents a life-life tradeoff, and a serious commitment to the sanctity of human life may well compel, rather than forbid, that form of punishment. Moral objections to the death penalty frequently depend on a distinction between acts and omissions, but that distinction is misleading in this context, because government is a special kind of moral agent. The familiar problems with capital punishment - potential error, irreversibility, arbitrariness, and racial skew - do not argue in favor of abolition, because the world of homicide suffers from those same problems in even more acute form. The widespread failure to appreciate the life-life tradeoffs involved in capital punishment may depend on cognitive processes that fail to treat "statistical lives" with the seriousness that they deserve.

To obtain the paper, click here.  [Mark Godsey]

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2005/03/new_article_spo_7.html

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