The central question in this article is whether an empirical-legal approach of victimhood and victim rights could offer a sufficient basis for proposals of legal reform of the legal system. In this article, we choose a normative-critical approach and raise some objections to the way in which part of such research is currently taking place in the Netherlands, on the basis of two examples of research in this field, one dealing with compelled apologies as a possible remedy within civil procedural law and the other with the victim’s right to be heard within the criminal legal procedure. In both cases, we argue, the strong focus on the measurable needs of victims can lead to a relatively instrumental view of the legal system. The legal system must then increasingly be tailored to the wishes and needs of victims. Within this legal-empirical, victim-oriented approach, there is little regard for the general normative principles of our present legal system, in which an equal and respectful treatment of each human being as a free and responsible legal subject is a central value. We argue that results of empirical-legal research should not too easily or too quickly be translated into proposals for legal reform, but first become part of a hermeneutical discussion about norms and legal principles, specific to the normative quality of legal science itself.