How do we ‘do’ justice? Using philosophy to clarify organisational systems
Seeking ‘justice’ can mean many different things depending on the context, the person seeking it, and what they consider ‘justice’ to be. On the whole we do not have a clear shared understanding of what justice is in society, making delivering it difficult. Compounding this confusion is the lack of clear principles to guide ‘justice’ in practice, which leads to it being applied or operationalised in different ways, further muddying the waters. To develop a clear definition of justice on a societal level would be impractical, and potentially impossible, however we can clarify how justice should be defined and applied within specific organisations. Within criminal justice systems, we lack a defined philosophical and ethical approach to practice. This lack of clarity filters through the whole organisational system, leading practitioners to use their own personal judgement in practice, a lack of consistency in practice, and approaches that may not be considered to be ‘just’ to be applied. Philosophy has always attempted to create guidance on what the right thing to do is, and so could be utilised to develop organisational structures that promote just practice and are underpinned by a clear definition of what ‘justice’ is in that context. This paper argues that we need to develop a practical philosophy of criminology to ensure that the structures and practices through which we carry out the law are in themselves just, and poses questions of what we want justice to be.
Citation : Urwin, J. (2018) "How do we 'do' justice? Using philosophy to clarify organisational systems" paper presented to Howard League for Penal Reform 21st March 2018, Keble College Oxford
Research Institute : Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice
Peer Reviewed : No