Source: (2000) Truth v. justice: The morality of truth commissions, eds. Robert I. Rotberg and Dennis Thompson, 45-67. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

In this chapter, Bhargava examines the sufficiency of truth commissions to restore decency to barbaric societies. Bhargava begins by discussing notions concerning a minimally decent society, moral rules, and evil. The complete breakdown of moral rules characterizes a barbaric society. A distinction is then made between asymmetrically barbaric societies and symmetrically barbaric societies. An asymmetrically barbaric society occurs when one group withdraws its support for basic procedural justice while other groups do not. A symmetric barbaric society occurs when all groups or parties withdraw support for basic procedural justice. On these bases, Bhargava makes three claims. (1) The primary function of a truth commission is to help a barbaric society become minimally decent. (2) In the transition from a symmetrically barbaric society, a truth commission is necessary and sufficient for achieving minimal decency. In moving from an asymmetrically barbaric society, a truth commission is necessary but not sufficient in itself. (3) In a minimally decent society, a truth commission cannot aim to achieve reconciliation between victims and perpetrators, but it can create conditions for future reconciliation.