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I Was Wrong
The Meanings of Apologies

$45.99 (C)

  • Date Published: February 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521684231

$ 45.99 (C)
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About the Authors
  • Apologies pervade our news headlines and our private affairs, but how should we evaluate these often vague and deceptive rituals? Discussing numerous examples from ancient and recent history, I Was Wrong: On The Meanings of Apologies argues that we suffer from considerable confusion about the moral meanings and social functions of these complex interactions. Rather than asking whether a speech act “is or is not” an apology, Smith offers a nuanced theory of apologetic meaning. Smith leads us with a clear voice though a series of rich philosophical and interdisciplinary questions, arguing that apologies have evolved from a confluence of diverse cultural and religious practices that do not translate easily into pluralistic secular discourse. After describing several varieties of apologies between individuals, Smith turns to collectives. Although apologies from corporations, governments, and other groups can be profoundly significant, Smith guides readers to appreciate the kinds of meaning that collective apologies often do not convey and warns of the dangers of collective acts of contrition that allow individual wrongdoers to obscure their personal blame. Dr. Smith is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of New Hampshire. A graduate of Vassar College, he earned a law degree from SUNY at Buffalo and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to UNH, he worked as a litigator for LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene, and MacRae and as a judicial clerk for the Honorable R.L. Nygaard of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He specializes in the philosophy of Law, Politics, and Society and he writes on and teaches aesthetics. He is working with Cambridge University Press on the sequel to I Was Wrong, applying his framework for apologetic meanings to examples in criminal and civil law. His writings have appeared in journals such as Continental Philosophy Review, Social Theory and Practice, The Journal of Social Philosophy, Culture, Theory & Critique, The Rutgers Law Journal, and The Buffalo Law Review.

    • First philosophical monograph devoted to apologies since Maimonides' Hilchot Teshuvah, compiled between 1170 and 1180
    • Interdisciplinary treatment of the moral meanings and social functions of apologies
    • Numerous examples of apologies from ancient and very recent sources
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "[This] book is lucid and learned, a rare combination. A must read for anyone interested in promoting civility in discourse...Highly recommended.
    -D. Stewart, emeritus, Ohio University, Choice

    "Smith provides us with a comprehensive and eminently sensible sourcebook on apologetic meaning. Smith has done a service by offering extensive and clearly written analyses of many aspects of apology as well as a great number of compelling and detailed examples. We have here...an accurate guidebook to the many subtle ways apologies can succeed or fail."
    --Matthew Talbert, West Virginia University, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521684231
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 232 x 158 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Meanings of Apologies:
    1. The meanings of apologies
    2. Elements of the categorical apology
    3. Apologies and gender
    4. Apologies in diverse religious and cultural traditions
    5. Unusual cases
    6. The relationship between apologies and forgiveness
    7. Varieties of apologies
    Part II:
    8. The collective categorical apology
    9. The problem of consensus
    10. Issues specific to collective apologies
    11. Varieties of collective apologies.

  • Author

    Nick Smith, University of New Hampshire
    Nick Smith is currently a philosophy professor at the University of New Hampshire. He graduated from Vassar College in 1994, earned a law degree from State University of New York, Buffalo in 1997, and went on to complete a PhD in philosophy from Vanderbilt University, Tennessee in 2002. He made a living as an attorney before coming to the University of New Hampshire, working as a litigator for a major corporate law firm based in Manhattan. He also held positions as a judicial clerk for the Honorable R. L. Nygaard of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in-house counsel for a New England medical technology corporation, a clerk for a New York State Department of Human Rights judge, and an intern at two public defenders' offices. He specialises in the philosophy of law, politics, and society, particularly as considered through contemporary continental philosophy. He also writes on and teaches aesthetics. He is currently working on the sequel to The Categorical Apology. This next book, also with Cambridge University Press, applies his framework for the various kinds of meanings conveyed by apologies to examples in criminal and civil law. His writings have appeared in journals such as Continental Philosophy Review, Social Theory and Practice, The Journal of Social Philosophy, Culture, Theory and Critique, The Rutgers Law Journal, and The Buffalo Law Review.

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