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Derrida on the Death Penalty


Derrida on the Death Penalty

Fritsch, Matthias (2012) Derrida on the Death Penalty. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 50 . pp. 56-73. ISSN 0038-4283

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.2041-6962.2012.00121.x


Responding to Derrida’s Death Penalty Seminar of 1999/2000 and its interpretation by Michael Naas, the paper argues that Derrida’s deconstruction of the theological-political
concept of the sovereign right over life and death in view of abolishing capital punishment should be understood in terms of the unconditional renunciation of sovereignty as called for in Derrida’s later political writings, Rogues in particular. This reading takes seriously what is here called the functional need for a ‘theological’ moment
in sovereignty beyond a merely historicist or genealogical interpretation of the European monotheistic heritage. Further, this reading asks how Derrida may follow through on his goal of developing the allegedly first principled philosophical stance against capital punishment. To this end, the paper assembles some ingredients of this complex but ‘unconditional’ abolitionism, one that doubts our comprehension of and active relation to death to the point of questioning the common sense distinctions among murder, suicide, and legal putting to death. The paper concludes that for Derrida, letting another die of hunger or AIDS may be understood as a form of death sentence, so that a deconstructive abolitionism puts into question the good conscience of sovereign agency.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Philosophy
Item Type:Article
Authors:Fritsch, Matthias
Journal or Publication:The Southern Journal of Philosophy
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):10.1111/j.2041-6962.2012.00121.x
Keywords:Derrida; sovereignty; political theology; death penalty; abolitionism
ID Code:36147
Deposited On:16 Dec 2011 20:06
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:36
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