Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Alison Jaggar

Second Advisor

David Boonin

Third Advisor

Claudia Mills


Apology is a common moral practice at both the interpersonal and institutional level. However, many critical issues concerning apology are unaddressed by the philosophical literature. In this project, I develop and defend a number of fundamental theses regarding the moral practice of apology and the work it can do to satisfy duties of reparation. Specifically, I argue that: (1) sincere apologies can be obligatory and legitimately coerced, which entails that doxastic and affective voluntarism are true; (2) it is possible to apologize on behalf of another for wrongs one did not commit, including historical wrongs; (3) one can accept an apology on behalf of another, including the dead; (4) accepting an apology is a prima facie obligation that all wronged parties bear. I conclude by arguing that, while forgiveness is necessary for a wrongdoer to achieve full moral redemption, apology is itself intrinsically partially redemptive and indeed indispensable for achieving full redemption.

Included in

Philosophy Commons