The Duty to Accept Apologies
Cécile Fabre ( All Souls College, University of Oxford )
The literature on reparative justice focuses for the most part on the grounds and limits of wrongdoers' duties to their victims. An interesting but relatively neglected question is that of what victims owe to wrongdoers in return. In this paper, I argue that victims are under a duty to accept wrongdoers' apologies. To accept an apology is to form the belief that the apologetic utterance or gesture has the requisite verdictive, commissive and expressive dimensions. Having so construed the acceptance of apologies, I then defend the view that victims are under a moral duty to form the requisite belief at the bar of a Kantian requirement of respect for persons. A failure to accept an apology, when there is a duty of acceptance, is a doxastic wrong. I end the paper by considering two objections. The first objection is rooted in scepticism about doxastic wrongs in general, while the second objection purports to identify cases in which there is no duty to accept apologies.
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The Institute of Philosophy hosts a regular workshop series entitled ‘The Practical, the Political, and the Ethical’. The series was created in 2015 by Véronique Munoz-Dardé (UCL) and Hallvard Lillehammer (Birkbeck) in order to discuss work in progress from visiting speakers. This year the series is convened by Mollie Gerver (Essex) and Jonathan Gingerich (KCL). Talks are normally 50 minutes (no pre-circulation of the paper), followed by discussion. All are welcome.