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Political Science


In favour of official apologies for past wrongs, one can argue that while guilt, or fault, is an attribute held by an individual only if she has actually committed a harmful act, responsibility is another matter. Membership in a corporate entity means the individual shares in the entity’s responsibility to ameliorate the consequences of injustices that it perpetrated. The corporate entity bears this moral responsibility even if its actions or lack of action were legal at the time they occurred. Moreover, the human dignity of those whom the entity has wronged is at stake, and overrides any damages to the human dignity of individual members of the corporate entity that might be a consequence of the apology. If no apology for the harm is offered, then the wronged are not recognized as morally equal human beings, deserving of respect from those who wronged them. Even if the actual victims are dead, their descendants may still suffer from the grievous wrongs inflicted on their ancestors and still be in need of ‘moral restitution.’


This article was originally published in Transitional Justice Review, 1(1): 31-53.