Hearing the voice of the estranged Other: Abolitionist ethical hermeneutics

Scott, David (2016). Hearing the voice of the estranged Other: Abolitionist ethical hermeneutics. Kriminolosches Journal, 3


This article explores the ethico-political justifications for hearing the prisoner voice from an abolitionist perspective. It starts by locating the interpretation of prisoner narratives within the specific moral context of the prison place and moves on to consider whether discourse ethics can effectively safeguard the voice of the prisoner. After identifying the strengths and weaknesses of discourse ethics and their application in liberal penologies, the discussion turns to the alternative critical theory of liberation ethics. Enrique Dussel (2013) has argued that we have an ethico- political responsibility to not only ensure material conditions are in place to facilitate voice but also to adopt the worldview of the powerless. Whilst such a position cannot be uncritically accepted, an argument is made for the selective adoption of the prisoner voice which is consistent with an abolitionist normative framework promoting emancipatory politics and praxis. The article draws to a conclusion by considering normative principles that can guide abolitionists when the prisoner voice is silenced.

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