Invasions of Conscience and Faked Apologies

3 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2008 Last revised: 10 Apr 2009

See all articles by Stephanos Bibas

Stephanos Bibas

University of Pennsylvania Law School


This comment responds to an essay by Jeffrie Murphy, which powerfully notes the limitations and dangers of using remorse and apology as metrics for punishment. But the state is more justified in teaching lessons than Murphy suggests, and retributivism ought to make more room for victim vindication and satisfaction. Gauging sincerity, while difficult, is not impossible. In the end, Murphy offers strong reasons to be cautious. But a humane society ought to be more willing to take chances and, having punished, to forgive.

Keywords: Remorse, apology, forgiveness, mercy, clemency, pardon, parole, sentencing, criminal procedure, criminal justice

Suggested Citation

Bibas, Stephanos, Invasions of Conscience and Faked Apologies. U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-25; in Criminal Law Conversations, 2009. Available at SSRN:

Stephanos Bibas (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-746-2297 (Phone)


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