Is Killing Wrong? A Study in Pure Sociology

ISBN-10: 0813933048
ISBN-13: 9780813933047
Edition: 2012
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Description: "Thou shalt not kill" is arguably the most basic moral and legal principle in any society. Yet while some killers are pilloried and punished, others are absolved and acquitted, and still others are lauded and lionized. Why? The traditional answer is  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Publication date: 3/19/2012
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 272
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.792
Language: English

"Thou shalt not kill" is arguably the most basic moral and legal principle in any society. Yet while some killers are pilloried and punished, others are absolved and acquitted, and still others are lauded and lionized. Why? The traditional answer is that how killers are treated depends on the nature of their killing, whether it was aggressive or defensive, intentional or accidental. But those factors cannot explain the enormous variation in legal officials' and citizens' responses to real-life homicides. Cooney argues that a radically new style of thought -- pure sociology -- can. Conceived by the sociologist Donald Black, pure sociology makes no reference to psychology, to any single person's intent, or even to individuals as such. Instead, pure sociology explains behavior in terms of its social geometry -- its location and direction in a multidimensional social space.Is Killing Wrong? provides the most comprehensive assessment of pure sociology yet attempted. Drawing on data from well over one hundred societies, including the modern-day United States, it represents the most thorough account yet of case-level social control, or the response to conduct defined as wrong. In doing so, it demonstrates that the law and morality of homicide are neither universal nor relative but geometrical, as predicted by Black's theory.

Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Georgia, Mark Cooney holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Virginia and an S.J.D. from Harvard Law School.

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