Apology: A small yet important part of justice

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Jean-Marc Coicaud's article begins by stressing the contemporary importance and the current trend of political apology. Recent political apologies offered in Australia and Canada to their indigenous populations form a significant part of this story. He then analyzes a number of intriguing paradoxes at the core of the dynamics of apology. These paradoxes give meaning to apology but also make the very idea of apology extremely challenging. They have to do with the relationships of apology with time, law and the unforgivable. The most intriguing of these paradoxes concerns apology and the unforgivable. Indeed, the greater the wrong, the more valuable the apology. But, then, the more difficult it becomes to issue and to accept an apology. This latter paradox is namely examined in the context of mass crimes, taken from Europe, Africa and Asia. As a whole these paradoxes are all the more intriguing considering what apology in a political context aims to accomplish, for the actor who issues the apology, for the one who receives it, for their relationship, and for the social environment in which this takes place. Jean-Marc Coicaud concludes his article by outlining what the rise of apology means for contemporary political culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-124
Number of pages32
JournalJapanese Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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