Cover of Dead Certainty by Jennifer L. Culbert
Dead Certainty
The Death Penalty and the Problem of Judgment
Jennifer L. Culbert

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2007
248 pages.
$21.95

Paper ISBN: 9780804757461

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Dead Certainty is about the challenge of judging matters of public concern without a common sense of the good or other shared criteria that validate final decisions. Examining both the philosophical and the practical aspects of this challenge, this book focuses on United States Supreme Court opinions that authorize and regulate the practice of sentencing people to death. Unlike other books that discuss capital punishment, it does not argue for or against the death penalty. Instead, Dead Certainty contributes to a larger project in contemporary political and legal philosophy: re-imagining how people in today's world give coherence and meaning to their shared experience. Culbert's work will be of interest to scholars of political theory, jurisprudence, law and society, rhetoric, continental philosophy, and ethics.

About the author

Jennifer L. Culbert is Assistant Professor in Political Science at Johns Hopkins University, where she teaches courses on Political Theory and Legal Philosophy.

"Dead Certainty is one of the most interesting and original treatments of capital punishment I have read in a long time. Culbert offers a philosophically compelling account of the Supreme Court's ongoing struggle to legitimate capital punishment. In her view, this struggle reveals important things about the nature of judgment itself and about the Court's attempt to ground capital punishment outside a framework of judgment."

—Austin Sarat, Amherst College

"In this book [Culbert] uses the Supreme Court's capital punishment jurisprudence as a vehicle to study 'the problem of judgment,' an inquiry that dissects the language and methodologies used by the justices in their evolving efforts to legitimate decisions resulting in the penalty of death Culbert's thesis is complex, her frame of reference novel, and her thoughts run deep."

—James R. Acker, School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany