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Killing TimesThe Temporal Technology of the Death Penalty$
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David Wills

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823283521

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823283521.001.0001

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Machinery of Death or Machinic Life

Machinery of Death or Machinic Life

(p.17) Chapter 1 Machinery of Death or Machinic Life
Killing Times

David Wills

Fordham University Press

Justice Blackmun’s 1994 decision to “tinker with the machinery of death” no more brings into focus the problem of an instantaneous death penalty that was raised by Eighth Amendment objections to the firing squad and electric chair at the end of the nineteenth century. A review of American death penalty jurisprudence reveals that the instant is not the only temporal question raised: the doctrine of “evolving standards” presumes a speed of evolution that is impossible to determine and compares different evolutions among electorates, legislatures, and countries within the international community. By examining those questions in the context of Blackmun’s Callins dissent I argue that what the machinery of death reveals above all is a concept of technological time.

Keywords:   constitutionality, Eighth Amendment, evolving standards, instant, international, jurisprudence, machinery, pain

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