Making Amends: Atonement in Morality, Law, and Politics

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"Can wrongs be righted? Can we make up for our misdeeds, or does the impossibility of changing the past mean that we remain permanently guilty? While atonement is traditionally considered a theological topic, Making Amends uses the resources of secular moral philosophy to explore the possibility of correcting the wrongs we do to one another." "Philosophers generally approach the problem of past wrongdoing from the point of view of either a judge or a victim. They assume that wrongdoing can only be resolved through punishment or forgiveness. But this book considers a number of other responses a wrongdoer could undertake, such as apology, repentance, reparations, and self-punishment. Making Amends explores the possibility of atonement in a broad spectrum of contexts, from cases of relatively minor wrongs in personal relationships, to crimes, to the historical injustices of our political and religious communities. It argues that wrongdoers often have the ability to earn redemption within the moral community." Making Amends defends a theory of atonement that emphasizes the rebuilding of respect and trust among victims, communities, and wrongdoers. The ideal of reconciliation enables us to explain the value of repentance without restricting our interest to the wrongdoer's character, to account for the power of reparations without placing a dollar value on dignity, to justify the suffering of guilt without falling into a simplistic endorsement of retribution, and to insist on the moral responsibility of wrongdoing groups without treating their members unfairly.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Making Amends is an illuminating, elegantly written, and much-needed systematic treatment of the ethical obligations of wrongdoers.... Linda Radzik's Making Amends is a superb philosophical investigation of the moral aftermath of wrongdoing. In taking up such a critical area of morality, Radzik makes a significant contribution to ethics."—Cheshire Calhoun, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"I know of no other work that treats in so comprehensive, sensitive, insightful and well-balanced manner the topic of atonement. The author's clear-headed critique of the views of many other philosophers and her sustained attention to and argument for her own position—which seems to me the correct one—constitute an important contribution."—Herbert Morris, Professor of Philosophy and Law Emeritus, UCLA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199767250
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/14/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 911,075
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda Radzik is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 An Ethic for Wrongdoers 3

Ch. 2 Repaying Moral Debts: Self-Punishment and Restitution 25

Ch. 3 Changing One's Heart, Changing the Past: Repentance and Moral Transformation 55

Ch. 4 Reforming Relationships: The Reconciliation Theory of Atonement 75

Ch. 5 Forgiveness, Self-Forgiveness, and Redemption 111

Ch. 6 Making Amends for Crime: Restorative Justice and the Liberal State 153

Ch. 7 Collective Atonement: Making Amends to the Magdalen Penitents 175

Notes 199

Bibliography 231

Index 241

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