, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 331-338
Date: 09 Oct 2012

Apologies and Relationships: Solving a Puzzle

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Having been wronged typically warrants resentment. Receiving a heartfelt apology from a wrongdoer is often a reason to forswear resentment and to forgive the offender.

See Joram Haber, Forgiveness (Savage, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1991), pp. 98–100; see also Charles L. Griswold, Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), ch. 4; Pamela Hieronymi, "Articulating an Uncompromising Forgiveness," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 62, no. 3, 2001; and Nick Smith, I Was Wrong (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), ch. 6.

Forgiveness is not the only response, however, for which apologies can provide rational grounds. An apology may also give us reason to maintain the relationship with the offender and to allow him to remain in our community despite what he did to us.

There is a way in which the reason-giving powers of apologies can come apart. Some apologies succeed in making it rational for the recipient to maintain her relationsh ...