The Value of Apologising within a Moral Community: Making Apologies Work

20 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2017

See all articles by Prue E. Vines

Prue E. Vines

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Date Written: August 3, 2017


English Abstract: Apologising is part of civil society and vitally important for maintaining social fabric. Many jurisdictions in Australia, Canada, the USA and UK have enacted apology-protecting legislation in the hope that the process of apologising might reduce civil litigation, particularly litigation about medical negligence. The apology is also significant in restorative justice and may operate in mediation or as a remedy. This article focuses on how the social and psychological process of apologising and being apologised to is affected by the moral communities within which the apology takes place. It argues that the failure to take this process seriously may impact adversely on the achievement of the aims of restorative justice and the apology protecting laws.

Spanish Abstract: Las disculpas forman parte de la sociedad civil y son de una importancia vital para mantener el tejido social. Muchas jurisdicciones de Australia, Canadá, EEUU y el Reino Unido han promulgado legislaciones de protección de las disculpas, con la esperanza de que el proceso de disculpa reduzca el número de litigios civiles, sobre todo litigios motivados por negligencias médicas. La disculpa es significativa, además, en la justicia restaurativa, y podría tener efecto en una mediación o como remedio. Este artículo se centra en la forma en que el proceso social y psicológico de pedir y de recibir disculpas queda afectado por las comunidades morales en las cuales se produce la disculpa; no tomar en serio este proceso podría tener consecuencias adversas en la consecución de los objetivos de la justicia restaurativa y de las leyes que protegen la disculpa.

Keywords: Apologies, moral communities, restorative justice, medical negligence, Disculpas, comunidades morales, justicia restaurativa, negligencia médica

Suggested Citation

Vines, Prue E., The Value of Apologising within a Moral Community: Making Apologies Work (August 3, 2017). Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol. 7, No. 3, 2017, Available at SSRN:

Prue E. Vines (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) ( email )

High St
Sydney, NSW 2052

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