I Was Wrong
Apologies can be profoundly meaningful, yet many gestures of
contrition - especially those in legal contexts - appear hollow and even deceptive. Discussing numerous examples from ancient
and recent history, I Was Wrong 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 highly nuanced
theory of apologetic meaning. Smith leads us though a series of rich philosophical and interdisciplinary questions, explaining
how apologies have evolved from a confluence of diverse cultural and religious practices that do not translate easily into
secular discourse or gender stereotypes. After classifying several varieties of apologies between individuals, Smith turns
to apologies from collectives. Although apologies from corporations, governments, and other groups can be quite meaningful
in certain respects, we should be suspicious of those that supplant apologies from individual wrongdoers.
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.
I Was Wrong asks philosophical questions regarding the
moral meaning of apologies.