Research focused on racial disparities in the criminal justice system and a call for the abolition of the death penalty garnered Philosophy Professors Michael Cholbi and Alex Madva publication in the prestigious international journal “Ethics.”
The journal, founded in 1890, publishes scholarly work in moral, political and legal philosophy and only accepts 3 to 5 percent of submissions. The publication process is arduous, with the articles viewed by an associate editor and reviewers before going through revisions and then to the full board for consideration, according to Cholbi.
“Just getting through to publication is a feat in itself,” he said. “You have a lot of eyes on your manuscript. It’s extremely selective. Making it through the whole process is very noteworthy.”
In their article “Black Lives Matter and the Call for Death Penalty Abolition,” Cholbi and Madva argue in support of the organization’s stance that the death penalty should be eliminated because it disproportionately affects African-Americans.
The authors drew on Cholbi’s work from 2006, which dealt with racial disparities in the death penalty and asserted that inequities in the criminal justice system devalue black lives.
“It was a prescient article because it predicted where a lot of racial discourse went with Black Lives Matter,” Madva said. “We think of racial disparities as being unjust to black defendants. We agree it is unjust, but it is not only unjust to them, it’s unjust to the entire African-American community because it sends a message that their lives are not as valuable.”
Cholbi said his paper in 2006 was well-regarded, but people were not ready for it at that time. The recent article with Madva takes a deeper dive into what is behind the disparity, he added.
“What Alex brought to it was that with his work on racial bias, he was very well positioned to draw out of the research why black lives are not given the same value,” Cholbi said. “It was a very nice marriage of two areas of scholarship.”
The article is being posted for a limited time on the University of Chicago Press website.