The Death Penalty and Human Dignity: An Existential Fallacy
AbstractProponents of capital punishment in the United States frequently cite the evolution from electrocution and hanging to lethal injection as an indication that the evolving standards of decency exhibited by such a transition demonstrate a respect for human dignity. This essay examines that claim by evaluating two standards for assessing whether an act comports with accepted definitions of human dignity: a personal-achievement model, based on work by economist Amartya Sen of Harvard University, and a universal and intrinsic approach to human dignity articulated by criminologist Robert Johnson of the American University. We evaluate Sen’s capabilities model through the lens of a condemned prisoner’s ability to achieve self-defined goals. We then assess Johnson’s claim that preserving human dignity requires an elimination of the death penalty, irrespective of any prisoner’s ability to lead a restricted, albeit goal-directed, existence. View Full-Text
Share & Cite This Article
Nagelsen, S.; Huckelbury, C. The Death Penalty and Human Dignity: An Existential Fallacy. Laws 2016, 5, 25.
Nagelsen S, Huckelbury C. The Death Penalty and Human Dignity: An Existential Fallacy. Laws. 2016; 5(2):25.Chicago/Turabian Style
Nagelsen, Susan; Huckelbury, Charles. 2016. "The Death Penalty and Human Dignity: An Existential Fallacy." Laws 5, no. 2: 25.
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.