Transitional Justice In Established Democracies

book cover

For more information, including a Table of Contents, click on the cover picture.


This book concerns the problems state wrongdoing creates for political legitimacy and how these are mitigated.

The first part of the book describes how we can understand practices of state redress as transitional justice. The main ideas are that state wrongdoing burdens political legitimacy and the context of a political transition enables rectificatory politics. I talk about what makes politics transitional, how we should understand political legitimacy, the relation between political legitimacy and authority and how state wrongdoing imposes burdens upon the state’s legitimacy.

The second part of the book considers how we should understand present practices of state redress. I argue that we should see contemporary practices of state apology, regulatory reform, compensation, and truth commissions as means for states to augment their legitimacy by enacting forms of administrative, corrective and restorative justice. Three of the chapters focus on recent examples of state redress: Canada’s provisions for POWs, compensation for Japanese Americans in the United States and recent programs for care leavers in Australia.


The NZ Legal and Social Philosophy Society held a symposium on the book in late October, 2015. Law News, the newsletter for the Auckland District Law Society, ran a report on the symposium in December, 2015. You can read that report here.

Post-publication reviews

Wendy Lambourne Political Science, June 2016:

This is an important book that makes a significant contribution to the development of transitional justice theory and its application to established democracies, a context that has traditionally not been included in the mainstream discourse and practice of transitional justice…The book raises fundamental questions about the assumptions underlying transitional justice theory arising from an analysis of diverse cases associated with state redress in the form of administrative, corrective and restorative justice. Click here to read the full review.

Sonali Chakravarti, Contemporary Political Theory, November 2015:

Transitional Justice in Established Democracies is a timely and necessary addition to the transitional justice literature…and will be influential as the topic undergoes its own period of transition. Click here to read the full review.

Alexander Karn, Historical Dialogues, June 2015:

…there are a handful of seminal texts that break through hard-packed soil to cultivate something new, and then there are the multitudes that track in the same furrows, attempting to clear away whatever rocks or weeds remain. Stephen Winter’s Transitional Justice in Established Democracies belongs to the first category. Tightly argued and thoroughly provocative, Winter’s study develops a rigorous descriptive theory that forces readers to reconsider the meaning and function of state redress. Click here to read the full review

Stephen Galoob, Journal of Value Inquiry, September 2014:

Transitional Justice in Established Democracies includes the best theoretical discussion of reparation yet written, and it should herald a new way of thinking about injustice and redress. Click here to read the full review

Pre-publicaton reviews

Margaret Urban Walker, Donald J. Schuenke Chair in Philosophy, Philosophy Department, Marquette University, USA:

Stephen Winter brings together transitional, redress, and liberal political theory in an illuminating approach to understanding state redress as a specifically political project of normative legitimation. This smartly written and incisively argued book sets a new bar for transitional, reparative, and historical justice theory. It is a tour de force of synoptic analysis and close consideration of specific cases of official redress in stable democracies.

Janna Thompson, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Latrobe University, Australia

This remarkable book draws together theories of transitional justice, legitimacy and political authority to explain why redress for historical injustices in Australia, Canada, the United States and New Zealand counts as transitional justice. Winter combines a description of how these states have dealt with historical injustices with a persuasive account of why wrongs of states require redress.





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