Justice and an ethic of care
Aug 27, 2009
[Bloggingheads.tv] recently hosted an interesting discussion between two psychologists—Michael McCullough and Dacher Keltner–on the evolutionary role of revenge and its place in contemporary society.
The whole discussion is worth listening to but about 28 minutes into the videocast they discuss the idea of restorative justice, which takes repairing relationships to be central to the idea of justice. Repairing relationships is the main feature of an ethics of care as well, and it seems to me this is where an ethic of care is able to fill out our notion of justice.
....One of the psychologists reports data showing that most crime victims are emotionally dissatisfied with the outcome of legal proceedings even when the perpetrator goes to jail—they are looking for a sincere apology and the willingness of the perpetrator to suffer some psychological pain regarding what they have done.
Other data they report suggest that, with restorative justice, victims are 26 times more likely to feel they received a convincing apology, desire for vengeance drops fourfold, willingness to forgive doubles, and recidivism is substantially reduced, all for the cost of a conversation.
Of course, restorative justice doesn’t replace punishment. Neither does it lead to victims and perpetrators being BFF. But it does reestablish the basis for further cooperation, which should be the aim of a justice system.
To listen to the conversation that stimulated Furrow's entry, go to Percontations: Sweet Revenge and click on "How to make modern criminal justice more satisfying". The clip is about 13 and a half minutes long.