A Prisoners’ Project in Emergent Ethics

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Raddon, Karen
Canadian prison , Collaborative methodology , Radical pedagogy , Emergent ethics
The central questions proposed for investigation in this project are (a) What might be the relationship between emergent, intersubjective ethical processes, such as might be claimed to exist in interpersonal relationships among prisoners, and moral systems, such as the rehabilitationist philosophy of the criminal justice system? and (b) In what ways might these ethical and moral systems and processes find expression in the lived experiences of prisoners? To explore these questions a working group was formed with myself and four research collaborators who had spent some time in prison. We worked collaboratively following a radical pedagogy approach to research, responding to these questions and testing this philosophical model against our lived experiences of prison and beyond. While we did not pretend to reach any specific conclusions on these highly philosophical questions, we were not at a loss to locate examples of our deliberations within our experiences of prison, as well as within the project itself building meaning across philosophy and practice. Thus at the very least we may advance that a framework of emergent, intersubjective ethics can have bearing on experiences of prison and may through further development present critiques and alternatives to the demoralizing spectrum of carceral control and rehabilitation. Further, we may hold that those with experience of incarceration are best prepared and most capable of offering this analysis. We contributed to the fields of intersubjective, deconstructivist ethics and convict criminology and affirmed ourselves as ethical subjects.
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