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October 11, 2007

Getting to the emotional heart of the death penalty

Susan Bandes, who has done a lot of interesting work on law and emotions, has this new piece about the death penalty posted on SSRN.  The piece is entitled "The Heart Has its Reasons: Examining the Strange Persistence of the American Death Penalty," and here is the abstract:

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 have salutary consequences for the clarity of the debate.  The focus on emotional variables reveals that the demarcation 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.

October 11, 2007 at 02:07 AM | Permalink

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» Susan Bandes Mentioned on "Sentencing Law and Policy" from The University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog
The Sentencing Law and Policy blog links today to a paper by Susan Bandes, who is a visiting professor at Chicago this year, called The Heart Has its Reasons: Examining the Strange Persistence of the American Death Penalty. See what [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 11, 2007 11:11:16 AM

Comments

You can't be serious. Let's see here, "Examining the Strange Persistence" this line tells us all about the author's biases. Why would it be strange?

And then let's read the abstract: "focus on emotional variables reveals that the demarcation between instrumental and expressive values is porous"

You know, when authors feel compelled to use fancy jargon it's almost a guarantee that they have nothing substantive to say.

Posted by: | Oct 11, 2007 8:13:53 AM

Whether you think the death penalty is good or bad, you must acknowledge that the word "strange" legitimately describes the fact that we're the only Western democracy to retain it. It's the strange persistence of the _American_ death penalty, after all, that she's writing about.

Posted by: M. | Oct 11, 2007 9:21:13 AM

I wonder if the first commentator read the article or not.

Posted by: S.cotus | Oct 11, 2007 10:53:05 AM

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