Dr. Valerij Zisman


Main Focus

Valerij Zisman‘s research focuses on criminal law, ethics, and moral psychology. He is particularly interested in how re­search on our punitive attitudes can inform the legal and normative debate on theories of criminal punishment. More broadly, he is interested in using interdisciplinary methods in order to enrich our understanding of morality, the plausibility of different theories in normative ethics, and the epistemic reliability of moral judgments.

Curriculum Vitae

  • 10/2022–present: Postdoc researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, Depart­ment of Criminal Law
  • 04/2022–09/2022: Researcher at the Department of Philosophy at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
  • 04/2018–05/2022: Dissertation in Philosophy at Bielefeld University with the Title “Criminal Law without Punish­ment. How Our Society Benefits from Abolishing Punitive Sanctions”. Defended in June 2022 (Grade: Summa cum laude)
  • 04/2019–03/2022: Scholarship for the duration of the dissertation at the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes
  • 04/2018–03/2019: Researcher at Bielefeld University
  • 08/2016–05/2017: Study abroad at the Department of Philosophy at Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 10/2015–04/2018: Master of Arts in Philosophy (Bielefeld University)
  • 10/2012–09/2015: Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and German Studies (Bielefeld University)


From Data to Theory in Ethics

Head of project: Valerij Zisman
Normative debates often rely on theories about what is right and wrong. In the case of punishment theory, for ex­am­ple, retributivists often rely on deontological theories, while proponents of deterrence theory draw from utilitari­an­ism. more

Citizenship and Fragmentation in Criminal Law

Heads of project: Valerij Zisman, Ivó Co­ca-Vi­la
What role does the relationship between the state and its citizens play for criminal law theory? A number of in­flu­en­tial scholars assume that criminal law must be founded on a bond of citizenship between the offender and the state that reinforces… more

Beyond Kant and Bentham – On the Plurality of Punishment Motives and their Relevance for Theories of Punishment in Criminal Law

Head of project: Valerij Zisman
In the past, theorizing in criminal law was seen as a primarily philosophical and legal enterprise. Recently, scholars have begun trying to combine research from moral and social psychology, which investigate what drives people to impose punishment, with the normative… more

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