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Pain, Death, and the Law

Austin Sarat, Editor

Publication Year: 2001

This collection of essays examines the relationship between pain, death, and the law and addresses the question of how the law constructs pain and death as jurisprudential facts. The empirical focus of these essays enables the reader to delve into both the history and the theoretical complexities of the pain-death-law relationship. The combination of the theoretical and the empirical broadens the contribution this volume will undoubtedly make to debates in which the right to live or die is the core issue at hand. This volume will be an important read for policy makers and legal practitioners and a valuable text for courses in law, the social sciences, and the humanities. Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Law, Meaning, and Violence


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Introduction: On Pain and Death as Facts of Legal Life

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pp. 1-14

"Legal interpretation plays on a field of pain and death." These are the words with which Robert Cover began "Violence and the Word."1 That essay was designed to reorient legal theory, or at least to remind legal scholars eagerly pursuing the interpretive turn or the parallels between law and literature...

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The Problem of Pain in Punishment: Historical Perspectives

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pp. 15-41

Within a relatively short period of years, beginning roughly in the latter portion of the eighteenth century, a wide range of corporal punishments employed throughout western Europe and the American colonies gave way to less bloody penal methods. By the early nineteenth century, a multitude of different capital punishments, including burning, hanging...

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Killing Me Softly: Capital Punishment and the Technologies for Taking Life

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pp. 43-70

In March 1997 newspapers all over the United States trumpeted the "botched" electrocution of Pedro Medina, a thirty-nine-year-old Cuban immigrant convicted and condemned for the stabbing of a Florida high school teacher.1 After the current was turned on, flames "leaped from the head" of the condemned, as one newspaper put it. "'It was horrible," a witness was quoted...

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What the Law Must Not Hear: On Capital Punishment and the Voice of Pain

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pp. 71-102

"Legal interpretation takes place in a field of pain and death."1 The law of the liberal state, Robert Cover observed, seeks to distance itself from the violence implicated in its very existence. To do so, to cite but one example, the law detaches the pronouncement of a death sentence from its imposition. Although less often noted, much the same end is achieved via the...

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The Sacred Name of Pain: The Role of Victim Impact Evidence in Death Penalty Sentencing Decisions [contains image plates]

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pp. 103-135

Victim impact evidence is information about the financial, emotional, and physical effects of a criminal act on a victim or the members of a victim's family.1 In 1990, in Payne v. Tennessee, the Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment does not prohibit a state from permitting victim impact...

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The Problem of Pain and the Right to Die

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pp. 137-160

Side by side with the development of medical knowledge, technologies, and institutions for solving the problem of pain,1 there has been a growing interest in the social sciences and humanities with the emergence of pain as a modern problem.2Close attention has been given to historical changes in the understanding...


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p. 161


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pp. 163-168

E-ISBN-13: 9780472022854
E-ISBN-10: 0472022857
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472067671
Print-ISBN-10: 0472067672

Page Count: 180
Illustrations: 3 photographs
Publication Year: 2001

Series Title: Law, Meaning, and Violence
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OCLC Number: 593241942
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Pain, Death, and the Law