chapter  6
20 Pages

Apologies, Corrective Justice, and Relationship Repair

Some Puzzles
WithAndrew I. Cohen

This chapter presents a defense of rights and duties of apology against some key objections. Critics might challenge whether the ordeal of apologetic performance is a proper target of rights and duties. Direct and in-person performance might be crucial in order that transgressed parties receive the account they are due as free and equal persons in the wake of injustice. Other critics might worry about unusually demanding claimants. The chapter sets out some limits to rights of apology in such cases. The chapter discusses and responds to other worries, such as about whether rights and duties of apology are suitable for relationships among friends and family. After considering whether rights and duties of apology overreach in ways that challenge standard liberal freedoms, the chapter closes by defending the account against worries that the moral transformations apologies involve are not commandable. Such changes are indeed subject to claims that might be the target of rights.

In this chapter, I consider how apologetic offers are reparative, particularly in light of some puzzles. I discuss the significance of apologetic offers as a performance, whether duties to offer apologies provide decisive reasons, the challenge of providing apologetic repair to unusually demanding parties, and how this framework applies among friends and among good persons disposed to do the right thing. I close by defending rights and duties of apology in light of an especially compelling worry that the moral transformation apologies typically involve for wrongdoers is not commandable. I reject that view and argue that a right to an apology can impose duties to change how one thinks and feels.