chapter  4
28 Pages

Abolitionism defined

ByBharat Malkani

This chapter sets out the idea of dignity in moral and political philosophy, and in US constitutional law, so that one can better understand the centrality of dignity to radical abolitionism. It might be argued that the legacy of slavery lends itself not to the inherent immorality of capital punishment, but to the practical problems with its administration. That is, a focus on race discrimination, it might be argued, is no different to the focus on innocence: both are concerned with the way in which the death penalty works in practice, rather than with the contention that capital punishment is always an affront to human dignity. When the death penalty treats black people as though their lives are less important than their non-black counterparts, it reveals the broader wrong of the death penalty. In all cases, capital punishment treats a person as not worthy of belonging to the moral and political human community because of that person's moral attributes.