Archive of Events

Archive of Events

Ordering and executing the infliction of harm – as specified in the criminal law – requires both a formal as well as a substantive legitimization. Such a legitimization is typically derived from so-called punishment (or “penal”) theories (such as “absolute punishment” theories à la Kant or Hegel or “relative punishment” theories that weigh the deterrent effects of punishment against the harm it produces). These theories are inherently normative (in the sense that they work with ethical arguments), but many of these theories also make (explicit or implicit) assumptions about “human nature” (i.e., about people’s subjective punitive instincts, retributive desires, affective responses, attitudes, values, etc.). Whether or not these assumptions are tenable is not a question of plausibility or pure logic, but rather a question of whether empirical findings speak for or against them. Social psychology – and, social justice research in particular – aims to provide such empirical findings, and I will show how such findings can be used to inform punishment theory. To do so, a first necessary step is to thoroughly investigate punishment theories with regard to the explicit and implicit assumptions they make about human nature, and then, in a second step, scrutinize these assumptions against empirical findings. This is exactly what Mario Gollwitzer and Ralf Kölbel (Chair of Criminal Law and Criminology, LMU) are currently trying to do in a research project funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. Mario Gollwitzer will present preliminary findings from this project and, finally, reflect on the usefulness and the feasibility of their approach. [more]
Look Away: A True Story of Murders, Bombings, and a Far-Right Campaign to Rid Germany of Immigrants, a book by Jacob Kushner. [more]

Look Away: A True Story of Murders, Bombings, and a Far-Right Campaign to Rid Germany of Immigrants

Book Launch with Author Jacob Kushner (former Journalist in Residence at the Max Planck Institute)

Key Issues in Criminal Justice

A Celebration of Michael Tonry's Career
The Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA) supports the Ukrainian Office of the General Prosecutor in its chal­leng­ing efforts to investigate and prosecute mass atrocity crimes in the context of the Russian ag­gres­sion against Ukraine. Klaus Hoffmann, an expert member of this group will report about his work in Ukraine, the legal chal­leng­es of applying national criminal law as well as the practical problems of investigating and prosecuting war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the crime of ag­gres­sion during the ongoing war. He will also comment on the issue of “trials in absentia”. [more]
Movie director Hans Erich-Viet will be presenting his 2018 documentary Der letzte Jolly Boy. [more]
The European Court of Human Rights: an Insider’s View [more]
Struggles for recognition often concern not only the right to be heard but also to be believed. A recurrent criticism of criminal justice systems in Germany and elsewhere holds that the testimonies of some witness groups such as alleged victims of sexual offenses are not adequately believed. This criticism raises worries about the legitimacy of criminal procedures and should not be dismissed as mere empirical matters. One of the most influential theories in contemporary philosophy, Miranda Fricker's account of epistemic injustice, explores forms of injustice which persons may be exposed to in the production of knowledge and in giving testimony. The account provides a philosophical lens for analyzing German criminal procedural law. In particular, the talk examines the claim that epistemic justice may and should be considered an implicit principle of criminal procedural law, with implications for two case examples: the pre­sump­tion of falsity of witness statements, established in a landmark decision by the German Fed­eral Court of Justice over twenty years ago, as well as the way the justice system addresses specific group-based biases in judicial reasoning such as racial bias. Both suggest legal reforms. [more]
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