Author ORCID Identifier

0000-0003-3827-0623

Date of Award

5-10-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Andrew I. Cohen

Second Advisor

Andrew Altman

Third Advisor

Christie Hartley

Abstract

I argue that state apologies face a distinctive normative challenge. The reason for this is that when states apologize for their transgressions, they tend to implicate their citizens as morally responsible. However, because citizens are coerced into supporting state activities through taxation, I argue that their responsibility is mitigated. Citizens do not support state transgressions in the same way that private investors support corporate transgressions. Consequently, state apologies have a distinctive difficulty performing one of the core normative functions of apologies – namely, the admission of moral responsibility on behalf of a morally responsible party (or parties). Because of this, state apologies might be normatively deficient, and we should doubt their ability to provide robust moral repair.

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