Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 289–300

The Executive as Executioner and the Informed Governance Principle

Original Paper

Abstract

An executive ought to be as informed as possible about the needs and preferences of her constituency and about the most important policy issues that her constituency confronts. This ethical duty, referred to as the “informed governance principle,” requires that an executive who is not opposed to the death penalty personally carry out at least one execution of a death row inmate. Having an executive act as executioner, even if just once, could also help citizens reflect upon their personal ethical commitments, spur them to monitor the government’s power, and prompt them to contemplate how best to distribute power so that the chance of injustice is minimized.

Keywords

Capital punishment Death penalty Executioner Executive Informed governance principle 

References

  1. Applbaum, A. I. (1995). Professional detachment: The executioner of Paris. Harvard Law Review, 109, 458–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beccaria, C. (1963). On crimes and punishments (H. Paolucci, Trans.). Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. (Original work published 1764).Google Scholar
  3. Budra, P. (2000). A mirror for magistrates and the de casibus tradition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  4. Cabana, D. A. (1996). Death at midnight: The confession of an executioner. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Damasio, A. R. (1994). Descartes’ error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.Google Scholar
  6. Death Penalty Information Center. Clemency. Retrieved December 5, 2008, from http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=126&scid=13.
  7. Death Penalty Information Center. Death row inmates by state and size of death row by year. Retrieved December 5, 2008, from http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=9&did=188#state.
  8. Death Penalty Information Center. Number of executions by state and region since 1976. Retrieved December 5, 2008, from http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=8&did=186.
  9. duc de Richelieu, A. J. P. (1947). L. André (Ed.), Testament politique. Paris: R. Laffont. (Original work published 1688).Google Scholar
  10. Dworkin, R. (1985). A matter of principle. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Hamilton, A. (1987). Federalist no. LXXIV: Concerning the constitution of the president: The same view continued in relation to the command of the national forces and the power of pardoning. In J. Madison, A. Hamilton, & J. Jay (Eds.), The federalist papers (pp. 422–424). New York: Penguin Classics. (Original work published 1788).Google Scholar
  12. Haney, C., Banks, C., & Zimbardo, P. (1973). Interpersonal dynamics in a simulated prison. International Journal of Criminology & Penology, 1, 69–95.Google Scholar
  13. Johnson, R. (2006). Death work: A study of the modern execution process (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson.Google Scholar
  14. Kant, I. (1974). The philosophy of law: An exposition of the fundamental principles of jurisprudence as the science of right (W. Hastie, Trans.). Clifton, NJ: A. M. Kelley. (Original work published 1790).Google Scholar
  15. Korb, J.-G. (1968). Diary of an Austrian secretary of legation at the court of Czar Peter the Great (Vol. 1) (C. C. MacDonnell, Trans.). New York: Da Capo Press. (Original Latin work published 1700; original English work published 1863).Google Scholar
  16. Langbein, J. H. (2006). Torture and the law of proof: Europe and England in the Ancien Régime. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  17. Lesser, W. (1993). Pictures at an execution: An inquiry into the subject of murder. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Louis XIV (King of France). (1970). Mémoires for the instruction of the dauphin (P. Sonnino, Trans.). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  19. Madison, J. (1987). Federalist no. X: The same subject continued: The utility of the Union as a safeguard against domestic faction and insurrection. In J. Madison, A. Hamilton, & J. Jay (Eds.), The federalist papers (pp. 122–128). New York: Penguin Classics. (Original work published 1788).Google Scholar
  20. Milgram, S. (1974). Obedience to authority: An experimental view. New York: Harper Colophon Books.Google Scholar
  21. Nussbaum, M. C. (2001). Upheavals of thought: The intelligence of emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Plato. (1997). Republic (G. M. A. Grube & C. Reeve, Trans.). In J. M. Cooper (Ed.), Plato: Complete works (pp. 971–1223). Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  23. Rice, E. F., Jr., & Grafton, A. (1994). The foundations of early modern Europe, 1460–1559 (2nd ed.). New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  24. Romano, C. (2007, April 20). Remembering, emotionally, a philosopher of emotion. The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. B17. Available from http://chronicle.com/weekly/v53/i33/33b01701.htm.
  25. Sarat, A. (2005). Mercy on trial: What it means to stop an execution. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Scarry, E. (1991). War and the social contract: Nuclear policy, distribution, and the right to bear arms. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 139, 1257–1316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schwarzschild, H., & Bryan, R. R. (1997). To see or not to see: Televising executions. In H. A. Bedau (Ed.), The death penalty in America: Current controversies (pp. 384–386). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Singer, P. (1993). Practical ethics (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1979).Google Scholar
  29. Solomon, R. C. (Ed.). (2004). Thinking about feeling: Contemporary philosophers on emotions. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Steiker, C. S. (2002). Capital punishment and American exceptionalism. Oregon Law Review, 81, 97–130.Google Scholar
  31. Swift, J. (1969). C. Beaumont (Ed.), A modest proposal. Columbus, OH: C. E. Merrill Pub. Co. (Original work published 1729).Google Scholar
  32. Zimbardo, P. (1999–2009). Stanford prison experiment. Retrieved April 19, 2009, from http://www.prisonexp.org.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.WashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations