The inadequacy of instrumentalist theories of procedural justice

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the concept of procedural justice in the adjudicative or rule-applying context. It examines whether procedural justice is an exclusively instrumental matter, dependent solely on whether procedures lead to accurate legal results, or whether procedures can also be just for intrinsic reasons. The chapter argues against two versions of instrumentalism – economic theories, which see procedural justice as a matter of balancing the value of accuracy-promoting procedures against their monetary costs in an effort to maximise wealth, and outcome-based theories, which hold that individuals are entitled as a matter of fairness to procedures that are suited to enforce their legal rights. The chapter analyses the difficulties with these views and concludes that procedures should be assessed not only for their capacity to reduce error, but also for their intrinsic justice. It endorses the view that procedural justice requires the use of procedures that promote relations of social equality between individuals and governmental authorities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProcedural justice and relational theory
Subtitle of host publicationempirical, philosophical, and legal perspectives
EditorsDenise Meyerson, Catriona Mackenzie, Therese MacDermott
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780429317248
ISBN (Print)9780367321727
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Legal Philosophy


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