I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies

Nick Smith, I WAS WRONG: THE MEANINGS OF APOLOGIES, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008

27 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2008

See all articles by Nick Smith

Nick Smith

University of New Hampshire

Date Written: August 9, 2008

Abstract

Apologies pervade our news headlines and our private affairs, but how should we evaluate these often vague and deceptive rituals? Discussing numerous examples from ancient and recent history, I Was Wrong: On The Meanings of Apologies argues that we suffer from considerable confusion about the moral meanings and social functions of these complex interactions. Rather than asking whether a speech act "is or is not" an apology, Smith offers a nuanced theory of apologetic meaning. Smith leads us with a clear voice though a series of rich philosophical and interdisciplinary questions, arguing that apologies have evolved from a confluence of diverse cultural and religious practices that do not translate easily into pluralistic secular discourse. After describing several varieties of apologies between individuals, Smith turns to collectives. Although apologies from corporations, governments, and other groups can be profoundly significant, Smith guides readers to appreciate the kinds of meaning that collective apologies often do not convey and warns of the dangers of collective acts of contrition that allow individual wrongdoers to obscure their personal blame.

The Introduction is available here.

Suggested Citation

Smith, Nick, I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies (August 9, 2008). Nick Smith, I WAS WRONG: THE MEANINGS OF APOLOGIES, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1214222

Nick Smith (Contact Author)

University of New Hampshire ( email )

United States

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