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Learning the Common Good: principles of community-based moral education in restorative justice

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This study investigates the educative process in restorative justice reforms, revealing three characteristics effective in facilitating moral learning for the common good. These three characteristics can be formulated as principles to guide the theory and practice of communitybased moral education. First, restorative justice brings the moral authority in personal communal traditions and the moral authority in impersonal universal norms together in a mutually reinforcing combination. Secondly, restorative justice processes focus on the "space between places" in social relations-not on individuals or families or particular institutions, but on the space where these important social bodies intersect. Thirdly, restorative justice harnesses the resources of whole communities to take the actions and make the changes that can successfully address the problems that emerge as crime, rather than continuing the criminal justice system's focus on individual offenders or individual victims. These characteristics can be translated into three educational principles to guide the theory and practice of community-based moral education: (a) the complementarity between communal and universal moral norms; (b) the locus of moral education at the intersection between multiple levels of social experience; and (c) community development as a model of moral development.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 1999

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