Review of Metaphysics 59 (1):171-173 (2005)

Abstract
When an autocratic regime is replaced by a democratic or constitutional one, a burning question arises: how shall the state deal with malefactors from the previous regime, and how shall it compensate their victims? That, simply put, is the issue of "transitional justice" to which this book addresses itself through meticulous exploration of manifold regime transitions around the world, ranging in time from 411 B.C. to almost the present. The subject bristles with far-reaching moral questions about retribution and reparation, but this is not a work of moral philosophy. In what is intended as a rigorously "empirical study of justice", Elster eschews normative judgment about what the actors should have done in favor of analytic inquiry about why, given their various circumstances, they did what they did, including the motivations, opinions, politics, and other causal factors operative in their decisions and in the problems encountered. Thus we learn much of the legal actions of victorious Athenian Democrats in 411 and 403 B.C.; of the Germans, French, Dutch, Belgians, Norwegians, and so forth after World War II; of the East-European polities following the Soviet collapse; and of recent Latin American transitions.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph200559192
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