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S.J. Quinney College of Law, Borchard Conference Room
In recent decades a number of countries have emerged from long periods of repressive rule and civil conflict and have attempted the difficult transition to democracy, among them South Africa following the end of apartheid and present-day Egypt following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. Such transitional societies have enacted a range of measures to confront these legacies of violence, such as amnesty, criminal trials, truth commissions, and reparations. This paper takes up the justice questions at the heart of debates about how societies in transition should deal with their legacies of wrongdoing: what are the appropriate standards of justice to use when answering this question? I offer some preliminary reasons for thinking that justice is in fact interestingly different in transitions. The core question of transitional justice is, I claim, different from the question of retributive, corrective or distributive justice. Moreover, the question of transitional justice is salient in a distinctive set of circumstances of justice—circumstances that characterize transitional, but not stable democratic, societies. In my view, adequate principles of transitional justice will be distinct from and not reducible to the principles of other kinds of justice with which we are familiar.
Colleen Murphy is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on transitional justice in the aftermath of civil conflict and repression and on the ethical dimensions of risks from natural disasters and climate change. Murphy is the author of A Moral Theory of Political Reconciliation (Cambridge University Press, 2010).
Comments: Erika George, S. J. Quinney College of Law
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Sponsored by the Center for Global justice at the S.J. Quinney of Law