Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Justice in Criminal Law
Date: 23 – 24 May 2019
Convenors: Véronique Zanetti (Bielefeld, GER), Valerij Zisman (Bielefeld, GER)
The debate on justice in criminal law experienced an interesting upswing in the last decades. For a long time, there has been a widely shared consensus that doing justice in criminal law requires the state to inflict proportional retributive punishment on an offender. But in today's debate, restorative justice as an alternative to the retributive paradigm has gained immense importance. According to restorative justice, the offender ought to repair the harm he or she inflicted on the victim. This might consist in compensations for the losses of the victim and a genuine apology to the victim. Punishment is taken to be of little to no importance for justice. The claim that we do not need punishment to do justice strikes many as implausible.
Punishment seems to be conceptually as well as structurally embedded within the notion of criminal justice. We seem to have a deep urge to want to see offenders suffer for their wrongdoings. Empirical research in the last decades has focused on the suspicion that our psychology is fundamentally retributive. Do we really think that the offender's suffering is intrinsically valuable? Or are we rather concerned with the offender's apology and promise to make good on his or her debts to the victim and to change his or her future behaviour? The conference aims at bringing together researchers from different disciplines to answer the question what approach states should take to do justice in criminal law.