Source: (2005) Presentation to the VUW Institute of Policy Studies Symposium: Towards a Restorative Society, October 10-11 2005.

In this respect I find it helpful to think of justice, like love, as being a generic or inclusive concept embracing a wide variety of applications. It is not a technical term with a circumscribed meaning but an umbrella concept with a wide semantic field. I also find it helpful to differentiate between three dimensions of justice. It has a normative or public dimension that stands over and above us, and that can be crystallised in legal and moral norms that summon our obedience. It also has an experiential or private dimension, something that satisfies our psychological need for resolution, vindication and restitution after a wrong has been done. Thirdly is has a visionary or teleological dimension that points ahead to something greater in the future, that never allows us to rest content with the way things are now, however good they might seem, but impels us to reach forward for something better. To date, restorative justice has been most successful in the private or experiential dimension. It has developed practices that aim to leave people feeling more satisfied that their justice needs have been met. What is required now is much more theoretical or philosophical work on the normative dimensions of restorative justice, as well as more occasions like this one for dreaming about how to create a better society in the future. (excerpt)