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essay on apologizing

essay on apologizingEssay on apologizing -Authors dealing with the interpersonal apology position themselves on a continuum, ranging from rather lax to very stringent requirements that an apology must meet in order to be valid.When looking into collective apologies, the state has received most of the scholarly attention as perpetrator and apologizer.Thus, scholars have argued that it is normatively sound to ascribe responsibility to collectives or institutions as continuous in time and as transcending the particular individuals constituting them at a certain moment.While representatives speaking on behalf of the group or institution may experience such emotions, the sincerity of the act should not be measured in affective units.Secondly, what do we mean by collective responsibility?Elections and opinion polls are probably the only – imperfect – mechanisms for gaining insight into whether an apology has or has not been accepted by the members of the polity.Clear examples of interpersonal political apologies are Senator Fred Thompson’s apology to Bill Clinton for insinuating that the latter had been involved in corruption or the apology by Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey for referring to Representative Barney Frank, a Democrat representing Massachusetts, as “Barney Fag.” In order to count as valid, an apology must meet a number of conditions.On the contrary, when a politician or official apologizes to her party, her voters or the nation for a wrong, we are dealing with a political public “one to many” apology. “Duch”) apologizing to the Cambodian people for his actions in the S21 prison or Richard Nixon apologizing to his supporters and voters for the Watergate scandal are just two among many examples of “one to many” public political apologies.Last but not least, who should accept these collective apologies? All these problems are amplified when the direct perpetrators and victims no longer exist.Some apologies are interpersonal (between individuals, that is, between friends, family members, colleagues, lovers, neighbours, or strangers).The representatives offering the apology might experience feelings of contrition, remorse and regret, but their emotional response is not a necessary condition of an authentic apology by collective agents such as churches, professions, or the state.Collective apologies take two forms: by “many to many” or by “many to one”.In the domestic realm, political apologies address injustice committed against citizens under the aegis of the state.Normatively, interpersonal apologies are meant to recognise the equal moral worth of the victim.It may also be used to increase the chances of a pardon in case the misdeeds are of a criminal nature.While a great deal of attention has been paid to the normative pre-requisites of a valid apology, there are no systematic studies regarding their effect on the public culture of the societies in which they are offered.Although, in a broad sense, everything is political, interpersonal apologies can be political in the stricter sense when the offender and the offended are politicians, public officials or representatives of political organizations.Consequently, those who measure collective apologies against the standards for interpersonal apologies argue against the very idea of collective apologies, and especially against the idea of collective apologies for injustices that took place in the distant past.Most of the time, some members of the community reject the idea of apologizing for a past wrong.They see public contrition as a threat to the self-image of the group and as an unnecessary tainting of its history.essay on apologizingIn the case of “many to many” one group apologizes to another group.Changes in the norms and practices of the collective, reparations, compensation, or memorialization projects give concreteness to the symbolic act of apologizing.Third, who has the proper standing to apologize for something that the collective has supposedly perpetrated: the upper echelons of the chain of command or the direct perpetrators?Things get complicated when we consider who accepts the apology. A family or a group of friends can come together and decide what to do in response to the apology.Other apologies are collective (by one group to another group or by a group to an individual).Diminishing her desire for revenge, healing humiliations, and facilitating reconciliation are hoped for, but empirically contingent, effects of the apology.In this category, we could discuss Japan’s “sorry” for the abuse of Korean and Chinese “comfort women” and Belgium’s expression of regret for not having intervened to prevent the genocide in Rwanda.The “sincerity” of collective apologies should be measured in terms of what follows from the act.While the offence cannot be undone, the act of acknowledging it recognises the offended as an equal moral agent.Many critics of restorative justice have pointed out that such a conception of justice does not make much sense outside small, closely knit communities.When applied to collective apologies for harms and wrongs featuring multiple perpetrators – oftentimes committed a long time ago – many of Smith’s criteria for a categorical “sorry” do not hold.When an individual apologizes to her family, to her group of friends, or to the nation, we apply the same standards of validity that we apply to interpersonal apologies.Theorists who do not take the interpersonal “sorry” as a template for the collective apology argue that they are addressed to a number of audiences.The purposes of the non-political “one to many” apology overlap with those of the interpersonal acts of contrition: recognizing the victims as moral interlocutors and communicating the fact that the offender understands and regrets the violation of their legitimate moral expectations, thus making a first step towards a desired reconciliation.Public figures sometimes choose to communicate their regret via mass media, and then the apology is public and non-political.For example, when one individual apologizes privately to her family, group of friends, neighbours, or colleagues for an insult or any other moral failure, we are talking about a non-political “one to many” apology.A gesture formerly considered a sign of weakness has grown to represent moral strength and a crucial step towards potential reconciliation.All recent examples of collective apologies have turned out to be controversial and antagonizing, so much so that some scholars have argued that the lack of consensus constitutes an insuperable obstacle to collective apologies. And what if the members of the group that the apology addresses cannot agree on whether to accept the apology or not?Forgiveness should not be confused with forgetting, which is involuntary and does not presuppose a “change of heart.” While possible, forgiveness is neither necessary nor a right that the offender can claim once she has apologized and shown remorse. In addition and contrary to some religious traditions, philosophers have usually argued that forgiveness should not be understood as the victim’s duty, nor should it be conceived of as a test of her good character.She who has committed the wrong has the proper standing to apologize. essay on apologizing To the extent that an interpersonal apology fails on any of these criteria, it fails to achieve the status of a proper apology.If the issue of collective responsibility is addressed in this way, we then need to turn to the question of who has standing to apologize for the collective.Individuals, but more often states, churches, the judiciary, the medical profession and universities publicly issue apologies to those they have wronged in the past.Naturally, the affective dimension of the collective apology becomes less significant if we give up the interpersonal model.Can there ever be consensus about how to deal with officials’ expressions of regret within the large, pluralistic publics of today’s societies?For example, a present government who has not committed any wrongs can still take responsibility by acknowledging that wrongs have been committed against a certain group or person in the past, that it was “our culture” that enabled the abuses, that the abuses have repercussions in the present, and that they will not be allowed to happen again.Secondly, they are addressed to the general public, with a view to communicating that what happened in the past is in great tension with the moral principles the group subscribes to and that such abuses will not be tolerated ever again.A corporation or a village can organize a consultative process and determine how to react.In this sense, it can be safely said that collective apologies have both a symbolic function (recognition of the offended group as worthy of respect) and a utility function (the apology might bring about reparations to the victims and might lead to better inter-group relations).Minimally, an apology by one to the many must include an acknowledgement that a wrong has been committed, acceptance of responsibility, a promise of forbearance, expression of regret or remorse and an offer of repair.Collective responsibility must be conceptually distinguished from collective guilt, a philosophically more problematic notion.Such an apology can be performed in private (for instance, when one family member apologizes to another within the walls of their common abode) or in public (when individuals with public profiles apologise to their spouses, friends or colleagues for their blunders in a highly mediated fashion).Clear examples are the apology by the Canadian government to Maher Arar for the ordeal he suffered as a result of his rendition to Syria or corporate apologies to individual clients for faulty services or goods.Strategically, such acts may be employed to minimize political losses, save one’s political career and, if that were not possible, to insulate one’s office or party from the negative consequences of a particular person’s misdeeds.Therefore, collective responsibility requires that groups’ representatives acknowledge the fact that an injustice has been committed, mark discontinuity with the discriminatory practices of the past, and commit themselves to non-repetition and redress.In interpersonal apologies, an individual acknowledges and promises to redress offences committed against another individual.Authors have been preoccupied by an array of questions: What are the validity conditions for an apology?What is more, the potential apologizers and addressees of the apology often owe their very existence to the fact that the injustices had been committed in the past, as is the case, for example, of almost everyone in the Americas or Australia today: without the injustices committed against the First Nations and without the slave trade the demographics of the continents would look different in the 21st Century. to express regret for the very events that made their existence possible, would be impossible.The answer appears to be clear in the case of a “many to one” apology. In such cases, there is no identity between perpetrator and apologiser or between the victim and the addressee of the apology.In the international realm, political apologies are important diplomatic tools and usually address injustice committed during wartime, but not only. essay on apologizing Unlike interpersonal apologies—where the offender has to apologize to the offended—collective apologies depend on representation, or, in other words, they are done by proxy.But how do large, unorganized groups, such as nations, accept an apology?If we understand collective apologies as symbolic acts and if we agree that collectives can take responsibility for past wrongs even if their current members did not commit any of the past offences, then a legitimate representative – perceived by the collective as having the authority to speak for the collective – has the standing to apologize.If the apology is accepted and if the offender is forgiven, the moral (of equal moral worth of the offending and the offended parties) will be restored.In fact, under the banner of “restorative justice”, an entire literature addresses the ways in which communities can heal broken relations and re-integrate those among their members who have gone astray (Braithwaite 1989).More generally, apologies can be offered “one to one,” “one to many,” “many to one,” or “many to many.” While the practice of apologizing is nothing new, the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first witnessed a sharp rise in the number of public and political apologies, so much so that some scholars believe we are living in an “age of apology” (Gibney et al.For instance, one might argue that African Americans experience today the socio-economic repercussions of a history of discrimination and oppression that goes back to the slave trade. White Americans, on the contrary, have been the beneficiaries of the same violations, even if they are not the direct perpetrators thereof.Nick Smith provides us with the theoretically most systematic and normatively strictest account of the interpersonal apology, listing no less than twelve conditions for what he calls a valid “categorical” apology: a corroborated factual record, the acceptance of blame (to be distinguished from expressions of sympathy as in “I am sorry for your loss”), having standing (only those causally responsible for the offence can apologise), identification of each harm separately, identification of the moral principles underlying each harm, endorsement of the moral principles underlying each harm, recognition of the victim as a moral interlocutor, categorical regret (recognition of the fact that one’s act constitute a moral failure), the performance of the apology, reform and redress (post-apology), sincere intentions (lying when apologizing would only double the insult to the victim), and some expression of emotion (sorrow, guilt, empathy, sympathy) (Smith 2008).In addition, collectives are responsible for reproducing the culture that made it possible for atrocities to go on uncontested.Psychologically, an apology aims to meet the victim’s psychological needs of recognition, thus restoring her self-respect (Lazare 2004).For instance, the French railway company SNCF apologized for transporting Jews to the extermination camps during the Nazi occupation and the Vatican apologized to women for the violations of their rights and historical denigration at the hands of the Catholic Church.A pledge to revise the very foundations on which the relations between various groups are established within the polity and material compensations for the losses incurred by the victims give concreteness to the apology.Last but not least, to whom is the apology addressed?Another way of dealing with the question of the validity of collective apologies is to give up the interpersonal model and think of them as a rather distinct category, whose purposes and functions differ from those of interpersonal apologies.The “one to many” apology can be either private or public, and can be political or non-political.Are these the same for interpersonal and collective apologies?In addressing the issue of state apologies, we can speak of three contexts where such acts are considered appropriate: domestic, international and postcolonial.Crimes ranging from personal betrayals and insults all the way to enslavement, violations of medical ethics, land displacement, violations of treaties or international law, systemic discrimination, wartime casualties, cultural disruptions, or political seizures constitute reasons for public expressions of regret.Beside the acknowledgement and recognition functions of the political variety of the “one to many” apology, such acts also seek to satisfy the publicity requirement and set the record straight, re-affirm the principles the community abides by and, in giving an account of one’s personal failures as a politician or representative, they individualize guilt.This is an important lacuna in great need of remedy. essay on apologizing Thus, scholars have argued that it is normatively sound to ascribe responsibility to collectives or institutions as continuous in time and as transcending the particular individuals constituting them at a certain moment. essay on apologizing




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