Apologies have growing significance in a world where people, institutions, and governments reckon with the past. Calls for apologies show increasing demands for acknowledging and remedying our transgressions and those of our forebears. However, there are worries that our era of apology has cheapened accountability and misdirected private and public moral energies. This opening introduction gives an overview of the significance of apologies, particularly in light of a liberal commitment to treating each other as free and equal. There is a need for some systematic account of whether and how justice bears on apologies. After setting out some further preliminaries, the introduction offers brief overviews of each chapter.
As of the late 2010s, a website tracks the use of the term “sorry” in social media posts by the United Kingdom’s providers of public transportation. 1 Public relations teams for the various railways, airlines, buses, trams, and rapid transit lines post service alerts and respond to customer complaints. In 2019, there were on average well over 1,000 such “sorry” posts each day.