“Truth and Method in Southern Criminology” is an article that elaborates on the topic of ethics and methodology in the area of criminal justice. In particular, it addresses “ethical conduct in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding in human relations” among criminological workers of the Global North and Global South (Brown, 2021, p. 451). Brown (2021) begins his article by defining the primary purpose of criminology cooperation as finding just futures ethically in all possible activities, such as discussions, engagements, meetings, advocacy, research, and professional relationships. In light of developmental disparities between the North and the South, he elaborates on the established pattern of North domination over the South. Brown (2021) uses the example of unsuccessful penal reform transfer to South countries, emphasizing that practices applicable in the North might not fare the same way elsewhere. Afterward, Brown defines what “ethical conduct” should be, referencing the works of German philosophers – Kant and Gadamer. Finally, he critically applies his vision to India’s case example of the “untouchable” Dalits. Overall, the article provides a framework that ethically and morally frames communication in the professional practice of criminology.
Overall, I agree with the author’s point of view regarding the importance of ethical conduct in professional practice. To define “ethical conduct,” Brown drew inspiration from Kant’s categorical imperative never to treat others simply as means but as an end goal (Brown, 2021). This thought can be applied to many situations, some of which I have experienced and can effortlessly relate to in terms of ethical evaluation.
The first example refers to the time when we observe other people and make predictions about their behavior. In criminology, such practice is called risk prediction – when I generate risk profiles, I tend to do so for my own purposes of evaluating the threat an individual might pose. This example might not seem critical at first sight; however, it implies not treating an individual fully human, according to the categorical imperative.
Another example, which has a deeper connection with the topic of professional relationships, is when people assume they understand others better than they do themselves. Compared to the first point, this communication does recognize other people as persons; nevertheless, it still maintains an unethical self-oriented attitude. In short, the situation can be described from a dialectic perspective. By listening to the opposing arguments, people are able to reflect on these claims, putting themselves in the position of their interlocutors. From this point, it is relatively easy to imply that they genuinely understand the opposing position and know the solution. In doing so, people attempt to establish “domination” over interlocutors’ minds, which is undoubtedly unethical and detrimental to future relationships. In my personal experience, I experienced such an attitude on different scales from teachers and some peers, which is why I can understand its harm, especially in terms of seeking truth and justice.
Despite this article being centered around a specific area of criminology, its ethical framework has much broader implications. Both showcased situations can be translated into simple real-life interactions, such as condemningly viewing a homeless person trying to start a conversation or trying to prove the point of view in a heated argument. I believe that acknowledging another person and their right to have an opinion is essential in building firm and trustful relationships. Consequently, I agree and support Brown’s opinion on ethics in criminology.
Brown, M. (2021). Truth and Method in Southern Criminology. Critical Criminology, 29(3), 451- 467.