The Problem of Dirty Hands in Transitional Justice



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Tartu Ülikool


This thesis explores the connection between the problem of dirty hands in political philosophy and transitional justice in political science. Respectively, it is divided into two parts. In the first part the problem of dirty hands is considered in historical perspective. I take Walzer’s description of the problem and try to find the elements of the problem in works of different philosophers. Among all philosophers who wrote on the topic I distinguish those who recognized feeling guilty for political decisions from those who presented justifications for actions. In the second part I use the precedent of the Nuremberg trials to stress on the individual criminal responsibility for political actions as there are crimes for which wrongdoers should be punished regardless the circumstances or feeling guilty. I take the case of contemporary Russia to see whether the wrongdoers of the previous regime were prosecuted. I proposed the problem of dirty hands in transitional justice as related to choosing the best timing for implementing justice against perpetrators of the past. In the end, I advocate postponed justice as a compromise solution for the case of Russia.



filosoofia, poliitiline filosoofia, karistusõigus, Venemaa, Walzer, Michael