chapter  8
20 Pages

Political Apologies

WithAndrew I. Cohen

This chapter considers political apologies as tools of moral progress. This chapter defends the view that states can and do bear duties to apologize. The chapter highlights how apologies are moral devices that generate reasons. When states offer apologies, they attempt to offer reasons to second and third parties about the normative significance of state transgressions. The reasons political apologies provide do not necessarily apply to all parties in the same way. This chapter considers how and whether political apologies may be authoritative, that is, provide reasons that create duties or, at least, justify coercion. The chapter also discusses and sets aside concerns that practices of political apologies either unjustly over- or underrepresent natural agents who are culpable for transgressions.

Among the remedies that people routinely demand of transgressors are apologies. Among the most notorious transgressors in human history are states. This is unsurprising given the power states command. In this chapter, I defend the view that there can be, and sometimes there are, rights and duties regarding political apologies.