Values File

In the case of serious wrongs a wrongdoer has implied

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Unformatted text preview: a moral recognition or acknowledgement of their human worth and dignity. In the case of serious wrongs, a wrongdoer has implied that the victim has little or no moral worth, which is a moral insult. In apologizing, the party responsible for the insult accompanying wrongdoing is implying that the wronged human beings should not have been injured, thus withdrawing the moral insult. n4 In her recent book, n5 Martha Minow includes a brief and useful discussion of apology. She notes that there is a sense in which an apology grants [*141] power to victims--the power to accept, refuse, or ignore the apology. No apology can undo wrongs of the past, but it can offer moral acknowledgement to victims and correct a public record, assigning responsibility appropriately to parties who committed the wrongs. n6 If there is no apology there is no cancellation of the message. The message of moral insult persists to wound again: "you were treated as worthless, people have said you were worthless, and no one is going to do anything about it or take that message back." At this point, the implication is "you really are worthless." Apologies offer moral amends to victims Saskatchewan Law Review 2002 Although wrongs cannot be undone and the past cannot be "fixed", it is often possible to mitigate the effects of wrongdoing. In granting moral acknowledgement, apologies have the potential to make moral amends to victims of wrongdoing. In addition, apologies [*142] incorporate recognition of the importance of making practical amends (some form of restitution or compensation) in the light of that acknowledgement. n11 Serious wrongdoing has resulted in real damage to the victim. A complete apology for serious wrongdoing must include some commitment to practical amends--some concrete practical measures to address the damage brought by these wrongs. When a public apology is issued with no commitment to practical amends, it rings hollow and empty. Such an apology may be worse than no apology at all. Apologies offer a commitment to the future Saskatc...
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