Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


I have just posted a paper to SSRN.  The title:  Capital Punishment and the Morality of Human Rights.  This paper will soon appear in the Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, which is the new name for what used to be known as The Catholic Lawyer.  The Journal is edited by law students at St. John's University School of Law.

Here, as it appears on SSRN, is the abstract:

According to the morality of human rights, every human being has inherent dignity and is inviolable. In a paper I posted on SSRN last month, I inquired whether there is a nonreligious ground for the morality of human rights. To see that paper, click here.

In this paper, I pursue the implications of the morality of human rights for the issue of capital punishment. Should we who affirm the morality of human rights, because we affirm it, want the law to protect human beings from--by giving them a right to be free from--capital punishment. One of the most prominent and powerful voices against capital punishment in recent years was that of Pope John Paul II, whose position was more radical--more oppositionist--than the official position of the Roman Catholic Church. In this paper, I present John Paul II's position and then explain why I am unable to embrace it. I then present an alternative position--an alternative reason why we who affirm the morality of human rights should oppose capital punishment.

This paper, which was the basis for a lecture I presented at St. John's University on October 13, 2004, is drawn from a book-in-progress, tentatively titled HUMAN RIGHTS AS MORALITY, HUMAN RIGHTS AS LAW.

To download the paper from SSRN, click here.

Michael P.


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