What It Means to Be Human: A Philosopher’s Argument Against Solitary Confinement
The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. –Fyodor Dostoyevsky
In recent years, resistance to the widespread use of solitary confinement has gained significant traction in the United States. Opponents of the practice have drawn upon everything from psychology and neuroscience to criminology and economics to show the many harms caused by solitary.
Lisa Guenther, associate professor at Vanderbilt University and author of the new book Solitary Confinement: Social Death and Its Afterlives, draws upon her knowledge of philosophy to make a thought-provoking argument against the practice of isolating human beings for extended periods of time.
Guenther refers to the tenets of phenomenology, which deals primarily with the development of the consciousness through first-person experiences—the formative relationships we share with one another and the…
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