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What Good is an Apology?

What Good is an Apology?: Restorative Ethics in the Age of #MeToo

by Aimée Koeplin, PhD

In October of 2017, two articles broke detailing Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual assault and harassment of Hollywood celebrities. Along with high profile accusations came high profile public apologies. So, what makes an apology a good one? As imperfect persons in an imperfect world, we will all be called upon to make a good apology for something at some point. In this essay, Koeplin proposes a theory of apology as an expression of remorse at a wrong done for the purpose “making up for” the moral harm done, to the extent that that is possible. The particular moral harms done in cases of sexual harassment include disregard for the target’s rational autonomy, “gaslighting,” and the widespread acceptance of this kind of treatment.

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About the Author

Collectif Aimee KoeplinAIMÉE KOEPLIN, is a Los Angeles based writer and academic philosopher. Dr. Koeplin earned her PhD from the University of Washington in 2007 with dissertation work exploring the connections between the political life, theology, and natural philosophy in Plato and Aristotle. Her current research continues and builds on this foundation in ancient Greek philosophy, and her new projects in restorative ethics are centered around the philosophical question: “What is the good life for imperfect human beings in an imperfect world?” Her most recent research explores the moral psychology of apologies and forgiveness.


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