“Trust Me, I’m Sorry”: The Paradox of Public Apology

The Monist 98 (4):441-456 (2015)


Our attitude to official apologies is paradoxical. Despite widespread critique of most apologies issued by heads of state, government, and NGOs, public demand for such apologies continues to arise with predictable regularity—we demand even as we condemn.I argue that the role of apologies in securing public trust in a democratic context can explain this paradoxical attitude. By contrasting private and public apologies, I demonstrate that the latter have emerged as a performative (rather than legal or structural)model for accountability, and thus for reinspired public trust. I conclude by demonstrating significant democratic risks to this practice.

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Alice MacLachlan
York University

References found in this work

Trust as an Affective Attitude.Karen Jones - 1996 - Ethics 107 (1):4-25.
I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies.Nick Smith - 2008 - Cambridge University Press.
Acknowledgment.[author unknown] - forthcoming - Social Philosophy and Policy - Current Volume.
A Moral Theory of Political Reconciliation.Colleen Murphy - 2010 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work

Epistemic Atonement.Elise Woodard - forthcoming - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 18. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Finding Trust in Government.Paul Faulkner - 2018 - Journal of Social Philosophy 49 (4):626-644.

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