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What Is Acknowledgement and Why Is It Important?

Govier, Trudy
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) In Carol A.L. Prager and Trudy Govier, Dilemmas of Reconciliation: Cases and Concepts. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Pp. 65-89.

The concept of acknowledgement strikes me as a fascinating one that merits more attention than it has received and more than I can give it here. Conceptually, acknowledgement is closely related to confession, admission, avowal, and recognition; however, following recent discussions of justice and past wrongs, I concentrate on acknowledgement in particular without exploring the conceptual niceties of connections and distinctions between acknowledgement and these other notions. In this paper, my interest is in trying to understand what constitutes acknowledgement, and in particular in reflecting on the significance of acknowledgement for victims, perpetrators, and communities in the wake of wrongdoing. In such contexts, denial on an individual or collective level is open to serious moral criticism because in effect we choose to ignore serious harms to other people. (excerpt).


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