•  4591
    The Philosophical Controversy over Political Forgiveness
    In Paul van Tongeren, Neelke Doorn & Bas van Stokkom (eds.), Public Forgiveness in Post-Conflict Contexts, Intersentia. pp. 37-64. 2012.
    The question of forgiveness in politics has attained a certain cachet. Indeed, in the fifty years since Arendt commented on the notable absence of forgiveness in the political tradition, a vast and multidisciplinary literature on the politics of apology, reparation, and reconciliation has emerged. To a novice scouring the relevant literatures, it might appear that the only discordant note in this new veritable symphony of writings on political forgiveness has been sounded by philosophers. There …Read more
  •  2577
    Unreasonable Resentments
    Journal of Social Philosophy 41 (4): 422-441. 2010.
    How ought we to evaluate and respond to expressions of anger and resentment? Can philosophical analysis of resentment as the emotional expression of a moral claim help us to distinguish which resentments ought to be taken seriously? Philosophers have tended to focus on what I call ‘reasonable’ resentments, presenting a technical, narrow account that limits resentment to the expression of recognizable moral claims. In the following paper, I defend three claims about the ethics and politics of re…Read more
  •  1252
    Government Apologies to Indigenous Peoples
    In C. Allen Speight & Alice MacLachlan (eds.), Justice, Responsibility and Reconciliation in the Wake of Conflict, Springer. pp. 183-204. 2013.
    In this paper, I explore how theorists might navigate a course between the twin dangers of piety and excess cynicism when thinking critically about state apologies, by focusing on two government apologies to indigenous peoples: namely, those made by the Australian and Canadian Prime Ministers in 2008. Both apologies are notable for several reasons: they were both issued by heads of government, and spoken on record within the space of government: the national parliaments of both countries. Furthe…Read more
  •  986
    Resentment and Moral Judgment in Smith and Butler
    The Adam Smith Review 5 161-177. 2010.
    This paper is a discussion of the ‘moralization’ of resentment in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. By moralization, I do not refer to the complex process by which resentment is transformed by the machinations of sympathy, but a prior change in how the ‘raw material’ of the emotion itself is presented. In just over fifty pages, not only Smith’s attitude toward the passion of resentment, but also his very conception of the term, appears to shift dramatically. What is an unpleasant, unsocia…Read more
  •  983
    Forgiveness is typically regarded as a good thing - even a virtue - but acts of forgiveness can vary widely in value, depending on their context and motivation. Faced with this variation, philosophers have tended to reinforce everyday concepts of forgiveness with strict sets of conditions, creating ideals or paradigms of forgiveness. These are meant to distinguish good or praiseworthy instances of forgiveness from problematic instances and, in particular, to protect the self-respect of would-be…Read more
  •  679
    Closet Doors and Stage Lights: On the Goods of Out
    Social Theory and Practice 38 (2): 302-332. 2012.
    This paper makes an ethical and a conceptual case against any purported duty to come out of the closet. While there are recognizable goods associated with coming out, namely, leading an authentic life and resisting oppression, these goods generate a set of imperfect duties that are defeasible in a wide range of circumstances, and are only sometimes fulfilled by coming out. Second, practices of coming out depend on a ‘lump’ picture of sexuality and on an insufficiently subtle account of responsib…Read more
  •  679
    An Ethic of Plurality: Reconciling Politics and Morality in Hannah Arendt
    History and Judgment: IWM JVF Conference Vol. 21. 2006.
    My concern in this paper is how to reconcile a central tension in Hannah Arendt’s thinking, one that – if left unresolved – may make us reluctant to endorse her political theory. Arendt was profoundly and painfully aware of the horrors of political evil; in fact, she is almost unparalleled in 20 th century thought in her concern for the consequences of mass political violence, the victims of political atrocities, and the most vulnerable in political society – the stateless, the pariahs, the outc…Read more
  •  616
    Forgiveness and Moral Solidarity
    In Stephen Bloch-Shulman & David White (eds.), Forgiveness: Probing the Boundaries, Inter-disciplinary Press. 2008.
    The categorical denial of third-party forgiveness represents an overly individualistic approach to moral repair. Such an approach fails to acknowledge the important roles played by witnesses, bystanders, beneficiaries, and others who stand in solidarity to the primary victim and perpetrator. In this paper, I argue that the prerogative to forgive or withhold forgiveness is not universal, but neither is it restricted to victims alone. Not only can we make moral sense of some third-party acts an…Read more
  •  513
    Complicating Out: The Case of Queer Femmes
    In Kelby Harrison & Dennis Cooley (eds.), Passing/Out: Sexual Identity Veiled and Revealed, Ashgate. pp. 43-74. 2012.
    We take up questions of passing/outing as they arise for those with queer femme identities. We argue that for persons with female-identified bodies and queer, feminine (‘femme’) gender identities, the possibilities above may not exist as distinct options: for example, what it means to ‘pass’ or ‘cover’ is not always distinguishable – conceptually or in practice – from living authentically and resisting heteronormative identification: i.e. the conditions of being ‘out’. In some ways, these confla…Read more
  •  415
    The Values of Political Reconciliation (review)
    Transnational Legal Theory 3 (1): 95-100. 2012.
  •  411
    In The Atrocity Paradigm, Claudia Card suggests we forgiveness as a potentially valuable exercise of a victim's moral powers. Yet Card never makes explicit just what 'moral powers' are, or how to understand their grounding or scope. I draw out unacknowledged implications of her framework: namely, that others than the primary victim may forgive, and -- conversely -- that some victims may find themselves morally dis-empowered. Furthermore, talk of "moral powers" allows us to appropriately acknowle…Read more
  •  279
    Getting It: On Jokes and Art
    with Steven Burns
    AE: Journal of the Canadian Society of Aesthetics 10. 2004.
    “What is appreciation?” is a basic question in the philosophy of art, and the analogy between appreciating a work of art and getting a joke can help us answer it. We first propose a subjective account of aesthetic appreciation (I). Then we consider jokes (II). The difference between getting a joke and not, or what it is to get it right, can often be objectively articulated. Such explanations cannot substitute for the joke itself, and indeed may undermine the very power of the joke to evoke an ap…Read more
  •  234
    Seeing Sympathy: Remarks on Sympathizing with the Enemy
    Review of International Affairs 61 (1138-39): 178-189. 2010.
    This article responds to Nir Eisikovits’ recent book Sympathizing with the Enemy: Reconciliation, Transitional Justice, Negotiation (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2010).
  •  183
    In Defense of Third-Party Forgiveness
    In Kathryn J. Norlock (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Forgiveness, . pp. 135-160. 2017.
    In this paper, I take issue with the widespread philosophical consensus that only victims of wrongdoing are in a position to forgive it. I offer both a defense and a philosophical account of third-party forgiveness. I argue that when we deny this possibility, we misconstrue the complex, relational nature of wrongdoing and its harms. We also risk over-moralizing the victim's position and overlooking the roles played by secondary participants. I develop an account of third-party forgiveness that b…Read more
  •  142
    Rude Inquiry: Should Philosophy Be More Polite?
    Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 31 (2): 175-198. 2021.
    Should philosophers be more polite to one another? The topic of good manners—or, more grandly, civility—has enjoyed a recent renaissance in philosophical circles, but little of the formal discussion has been self-directed: that is, it has not examined the virtues and vices of polite and impolite philosophizing, in particular. This is an oversight; practices of rudeness do rather a lot of work in enacting distinctly philosophical modes of engagement, in ways that both shape and detract from the a…Read more
  •  126
    Trudy Govier offers a sweeping moral critique of revenge, arguing that even non-violent, limited, acts of revenge are wrong, insofar as they necessarily treat the target as an instrument of the revenger’s satisfaction (offending against respect for persons) and thus morally diminish the revenger. I challenge Govier’s critique by broadening her account of revenge, focusing in particular on its communicative complexities. Revenge aims to address rather than use its target, I argue, for the revenge…Read more
  •  81
    Justice, Responsibility, and Reconciliation in the Wake of Conflict (edited book)
    with C. Allen Speight
    Springer. 2013.
    What are the moral obligations of participants and bystanders during—and in the wake of –a conflict? How have theoretical understandings of justice, peace and responsibility changed in the face of contemporary realities of war? Drawing on the work of leading scholars in the fields of philosophy, political theory, international law, religious studies and peace studies, the collection significantly advances current literature on war, justice and post-conflict reconciliation. Contributors address…Read more
  •  68
    “Trust Me, I’m Sorry”: The Paradox of Public Apology
    The Monist 98 (4): 441-456. 2015.
    Our attitude to official apologies is paradoxical. Despite widespread critique of most apologies issued by heads of state, government, and NGOs, public demand for such apologies continues to arise with predictable regularity—we demand even as we condemn.I argue that the role of apologies in securing public trust in a democratic context can explain this paradoxical attitude. By contrasting private and public apologies, I demonstrate that the latter have emerged as a performative (rather than lega…Read more
  •  66
    Fiduciary Duties and the Ethics of Public Apology
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 35 (2): 359-380. 2018.
    The practice of official apology has a fairly poor reputation. Dismissed as ‘crocodile tears’ or cheap grace, such apologies are often seen by the public as an easy alternative to more punitive or expensive ways of taking real responsibility. I focus on what I call the role-playing criticism: the argument that someone who offers an apology in public cannot be appropriately apologetic precisely because they are only playing a role. I offer a qualified defence of official apologies against this ob…Read more
  •  51
    Risks and Temptations: On the Appeal of (In)Civility
    Philosophy East and West 70 (4): 1109-1120. 2020.
    "I am often rude. I often want to be rude. I often enjoy being rude. I even frequently enjoy witnessing the rudeness of others. Indeed, I could write a book devoted entirely to rudeness I have relished." This is, perhaps, the most charming opening to a philosophical study of civility that has been, and maybe ever will be, penned. The rest of us working on the topic should probably abandon our aspirations now. And these lines are not only charming; they are illuminating, revealing something of b…Read more
  •  39
    In A Moral Theory of Political Reconilication, Colleen Murphy brings much-needed clarity to debates over political reconciliation by setting out plausible desiderata for a satisfactory theory. She responds to these desiderata by introducing three normative frameworks which, taken together, measure reconciliation: the rule of law, trust and trust responsiveness, and support for political capabilities. In my remarks, I raise two concerns about the relationships among these normative frameworks, a…Read more
  •  28
    Mercy and Forgiveness
    In Ruth Chadwick (ed.), Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics (Second Edition), . pp. 113-120. 2012.
    Forgiveness and mercy are both generous responses to wrongdoing. Forgiveness is a personal reaction to wrongful harm. It can be expressed in emotional, verbal, or relational terms, and it can potentially express a number of important moral values. Controversial topics with regard to forgiveness include the possibility of unforgivable actions and of third-party, self, and group forgiveness. Recent political developments have invited philosophical reflection on public forgiveness. Mercy is usually…Read more
  •  14
    Gender and Public Apology
    Transitional Justice Review 1 (2): 126-47. 2013.
    Most normative theorists of public apology agree that, while apologies may have multiple purposes, central to most of them is the apology’s narrative power; that is, its ability to tell new stories of wrongdoing, responsibility, and accountability. We judge political apologies by whether they correctly identify the harms in question and the apologizer as the responsible party, whether they acknowledge the effects of this harms on the recipients of apology, and whether they successfully address t…Read more