After successful completion of this course, students should have learned to:
- Understand the difference between normative versus empirical (research) questions and arguments.
- Read, analyze and critically reflect on several original theoretical works by philosophers.
- Apply ethical theories to victimological issues.
- Present and discuss philosophical ideas related to ethics in class and in smaller group formats.
- Write a short argumentative philosophical essay.
The course Ethics and Victimology is divided into four main blocks, excluding two introduction lectures. In the introduction lectures, the intended meaning of ethics and philosophy is discussed, and we will pause to consider the value of philosophy for the field of victimology. In addition, several traditional theories in ethics will be outlined to serve as building blocks for the following lectures. These two lectures are especially important if you have not previously followed a course in philosophy/ethics.|
In the first block “Victimhood and Being”, we will investigate the notion of victimhood through the examination of concepts such as suffering, harm, wrongdoing and moral injury, and innocence and evil (lecture 3). Additionally, we will take a closer look at the function of (disrupted) narrative (lecture 4). Texts will be read by Susan Brison, Judith Shklar, and Jean Hampton, amongst others.
The second block “Victimhood and Societal Reactions” will focus on the interaction between victim and society, as well as on formal and informal reactions to victimization by third parties and justice authorities. Foucault’s interpretations of power and exclusion will for example be used to illustrate how (potential) victims may manage themselves and what types of victimization are likely to be acknowledged or likely to remain invisible. In the following two lectures, formal justice reactions such as compensation and retribution are discussed, and compared to extralegal reactions that amount to revenge. In the last lecture of this block, we will consider the role that forgiveness and reconciliation may (or should?) play in the aftermath of victimization.
The third block will deal with three subgroups of victims that each call attention to specific ethical dilemmas. One of these lectures will focus on the theme of sexual and domestic violence, thereby employing a feminist perspective. The second of these lectures will focus on victims of international crimes and the standing of illegal immigrants and refugees. The final lecture will be devoted to victims of terrorism.
During the fourth and final block, groups of students will present a philosophical text of their choosing and connect its content to one of the lectures, and/or to a new victimological context. Students are furthermore individually required to write a review about a chosen article, focusing on the philosophical argumentation. The final assessment will consist of an individual take-home essay.