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On Apologies

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There is a morally questionable laxity in our practices of apologising. A genuine apology involves substantially more than regret about offence caused by one’s behaviour. I argue that it is in fact possible to unpack a normative paradigm (or essence) underlying the practice of apologising. This essence involves doxastic, affective, and dispositional elements, related at the moral phenomenological level. The Consummate apologiser believes that he has transgressed because of identifiable moral saliences of his conduct, feels reproachful towards himself as a result, and as a result resolves to avoid repetition of the same conduct. The latter might require the cultivation of new dispostions or the sharpening of existing ones. It is rational to accept an apology insofar as the preceding doxastic, affective, and dispositional elements are believed to be present and rational in the apologiser. In accepting an apology, the recipient agrees to the attempt at normalisation of relations with the transgressor.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, U.K.

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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