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Michelle Ciurria
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Alice MacLachlan (2013) says that an apology should do, at least, the following three things: (i) identify the wrong, the wrongdoer, and the victim; (ii) disavow the act as wrongful/take responsibility; and (iii) express a commitment to some form of repair. An apology that falls short on any of these criteria is prima facie inadequate. But MacLachlan also recognises that structural inequalities can affect the acceptability and credibility of an apology. Apologies, she notes, “take place in social spaces, marked by various asymmetries of social and political power, and thus vary widely in their expressions of power” (2013b: 11). Apologies can be used strategically to silence an oppressed person or group, burnish an oppressor’s reputation, facilitate reconciliation without remediation, and accomplish other nefarious ends. Apologies are also perceived differently depending on the social identities of the apologiser(s) and the recipient(s). These contextual factors are all relevant to the acceptability of an apology. An adequate apology should not only meet conditions (i)-(iii), but should disrupt inequalities of power, not reinforce them. (You will see similarities here between MacLachlan’s contextual approach and my own in “An Intersectional Feminist Theory of Moral Responsibility.” Her view, like mine, is what I would describe as ameliorative). MacLachlan, A. (2013). Government apologies to indigenous peoples. In Justice, Responsibility and Reconciliation in the Wake of Conflict (pp. 183-203). Springer, Dordrecht. MacLachlan, A. (2013b). Gender and public apology. Transitional Justice Review, 1(2), 126-147.
Blame and the Objective Attitude (OA) So far I have been speaking mainly about responsible agency, which I have described as a cluster of capacities constrained or partially constituted by rationality, which in turn is facilitated by conditions of social justice, cooperative interdependence, and diversity. Responsibility is thus a relational... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Flickers of Freedom
Earlier I said that it is objectifying to unfairly blame or praise people on the basis of identity prejudice as opposed to the person’s quality of will. When we blame people on the basis of negative social stereotypes, we don’t accurately gauge the person’s quality of will: we judge the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2017 at Flickers of Freedom
What I have said so far implies that responsibility is relational. Why? Because we’re all implicated in joint rational projects (except for total social isolates), and rationality deficits in one social group tend to precipitate correlative, but asymmetrical, rationality deficits in other social groups. For example, implicit bias in privileged... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2017 at Flickers of Freedom
Another prominent locus of responsibility discourse is Strawson’s theory of the reactive attitudes. Strawson is one of the most influential contemporary responsibility theorists, being a central catalyst for mainstream compatibilism. On Strawson’s view, responsibility is an interpersonal practice in which we deploy (feel or express) the reactive attitudes, consisting of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2017 at Flickers of Freedom
There is a prodigious literature on responsibility, most of which emphasizes the internal properties of persons constitutive of responsible agency. We can call this approach ‘internalism,’ in contrast to ‘externalism’ (see previous post). Internalism is reflected, for example, in debates about whether character or control is the proper locus of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2017 at Flickers of Freedom
Much of the philosophical literature on responsibility revolves around conceptual issues: what is responsibility? Is it a capacity, a suite of capacities, a trait of persons, a privileged subset of a person’s mental states? I don’t hope to resolve these debates here—maybe they’re irresolvable, if there turns out to be... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2017 at Flickers of Freedom
I’m going to post a series of blog entries that argue that responsibility is relational. What does this mean? It means, first and foremost, that responsible agency depends upon responsibility-conducive social relationships and structures. These structures include conditions of epistemic justice—conditions free from pernicious stereotypes. Epistemic injustice (EI) impairs the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2017 at Flickers of Freedom
In my last post, I argued that severe deficits of epistemic confidence can undermine responsible agency by undermining a person’s ability to form resolutions and have a deep self. In this post, I want to discuss a related notion: trust. In writing about epistemic confidence, Miranda Fricker (2007) says that... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2016 at Flickers of Freedom
Today I’m going to argue that responsibility can be undermined by lack of epistemic confidence. Many responsibility theorists are interested in specifying the capacities implicated in responsible agency, and there are many fairly coarse-grained proposals, such as reasons-responsiveness (Fischer 2006, 2012), sanity (Wolf 1986), and consciousness (Levy 2014). These theorists... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2016 at Flickers of Freedom
Hi. I recently read this article by Alain de Botton on romantic love and why you’ll marry the wrong person, and it reminded me of Alain de Badiou’s book, ‘In Praise of Love.’ It struck me that romantic love, as describe by these philosophers, shares certain phenomenological qualities that conflict... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2016 at Flickers of Freedom
Hi all. I recently wrote an entry in my personal blog on blame and Brock Turner. Since it's rather lengthy, I'm just going to post the introduction and a link to the full post here. All feedback is welcome. ***** I’m going to write about a sensitive topic with some... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2016 at Flickers of Freedom
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Jun 9, 2016