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Final Reflections on the Spirit of Justice

Marshall, Christopher D.
June 4, 2015

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)


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