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Justice from a victim’s perspective

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am required to write a paper of between 5.000 and 7.000 words on a victomologically relevant topic. The paper has to incorporate key theories and perspectives on justice discussed in the course. My research question is: Do ambitious but unrealistic aspirations of justice do more harm than good to victims? And this should be answered from different philosophical perspectives, which I will explain next in my research proposal.

This is my proposal:
?False promises?: a road to justice?

The focus of our traditional criminal justice system is quite offender oriented, in which guilt has to be established for a certain wrongdoing and a punishment is imposed. Sadly, in this process the focus lies not truly on the victims of the wrongdoing, and what justice is from their point of view. A lot of attempts have been made to include victims? rights into legal proceedings, and some of them are quite admirable. However, in theory these rights all sound wonderful, but in practice they are not always lived up to. Often attempts are made, but many reasons can be found why they are not completely implemented. These attempts might give false hope to a victim of crime. Especially in the legal setting, it has been found difficult to create a more prominent position for victims in playing a role in their own justice procedure. It is interesting to have a look at what attempts have been made to create a more victim oriented approach to what justice is. Although the victims perspective has gained more support over the years, it makes me wonder if all these theoretical prospects are a good influence on the victims, which leads to my main question: Do ambitious but unrealistic aspirations of justice do more harm than good to victims? And can ?false promises? be a more eminent threat to feelings of injustice?

For as long as mankind exists great philosophers have tried to answer the following question: What is justice? Different philosophers have taken a stand in what justice should entail. Especially from a victimological perspective it is interesting to compare these different theories. The focus of our traditional criminal justice system is quite offender oriented, in which guilt has to be established for a certain wrongdoing and a punishment is imposed. Sadly, in this process the focus lies not truly on the victims of the wrongdoing, and what justice is from their point of view. A lot of attempts have been made to include victims? rights into legal proceedings, and some of them are quite admirable. However, in theory these rights all sound wonderful, but in practice they are not always lived up to. Often attempts are made, but many reasons can be found why they are not completely implemented. (The UN Victim?s rights for instance. There are many victim?s rights, such as the right to compensation, but what happens if no offender is apprehended or compensation is not received?) These attempts might give false hope to a victim of crime. Especially in the legal setting, it has been found difficult to create a more prominent position for victims in playing a role in their own justice procedure. Although the victims perspective has gained more support over the years, it makes me wonder if all these theoretical prospects are a good influence on the victims, which leads to my main question: Do ambitious but unrealistic aspirations of justice do more harm than good to victims? And can ?false promises? be a more eminent threat to feelings of injustice?

In answering this question I want to focus on two main philosophical perspectives on justice from the victim?s point of view, namely Bentham?s (and also Mill?s) utilitarianism and Kant?s deontology. These two theories should be discussed in depth, and what the benefits and misfortunes of the current legal victims? rights are. And whether it causes more harm from their perspective for a victim in not living op to these rights (?promises?) compared to this right not existing in the first place. Other theories such as Nozick?s libertarianism, Nietzsche?s moral psychology, communitarianism or the feministic perspective on justice can briefly be discussed as well, but this depends on how elaborate the previous two philosophers will be discussed.

I was given mandatory literature to be included in this paper, namely Michael Sandell?s ?Justice: What?s the right thing to do?? (2009). But also recommended literature such as ?The faces of injustice? by Shklar (1990), ?The new synthesis in moral psychology? by Haidt (2007) and ?Nietzsche?s moral and political philosphy? by Leiter (2010). Of course the best source are the philosophers themselves, and commentaries or critics responding to their theories. I should also find extra literature in addition, and the right legal documents for discussing the victim?s rights (The 1985 UN Declaration and 2012 EU Directive on Victim?s rights).

I was thinking of discussing extra sources (which I have to find from myself and is not appointed by the lecturer) discussing expectations of victims for the criminal justice process and their satisfaction. For instance Tolbert (Taking Stock of the Impact of the Rome Statute and?the International Criminal Court on Victims and Affected Communities
2010) or Mika et al. (Listening to Victims?A Critique of Restorative Justice Policy and Practice in the United States). But these are just suggestions, I leave this up to you. I will need between 15-25 references I think, but this is an estimation.

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