Back to RJ Archive

Apology, Forgiveness, and Moral Repair.

Cole, Elizabeth A.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) Ethics & International Affairs. 22(4):421-428.

Apology, forgiveness, reparations, restitution,
truth-telling, acknowledgment, restorative
and retributive justice, trust, repair,
reconciliation: How do these processes relate
to one another, how do they differ,
and how do they operate at different social
levels, from individuals to polities? Are they
all even appropriate as responses to different
types of wrongdoing? Three recent works by philosophers Charles L. Griswold,
Nick Smith, and Margaret Urban Walker
help to illuminate these closely related concepts,
today’s coin of the realm in discussions
of transitional politics. Despite the
fact that each author tends to focus on one
process in particular, all eleven of the processes
listed above emerge in each account
in one way or another, demonstrating the
degree to which they are intertwined in
what is a complex whole. In addition, two
of the books discuss processes or forces that
appear less consistently in the transitional
literature: hope, in Margaret Urban Walker’s
study; narrative, in Charles Griswold’s;
and resentment and trust in both.


Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now