Remorse, Apology, and Mercy

Jeffrie G. Murphy

in Punishment and the Moral Emotions

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199764396
Published online May 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780190267575 | DOI:
Remorse, Apology, and Mercy

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This chapter explores the nature of remorse, its relation to religion, the role it plays in the assessment of moral character, and the role that such a character assessment might play in decisions to grant legal mercy—in particular, decisions of judges at the time of sentencing or decisions of executives with the power to grant clemency. The complex relationship that acts of apology bear to the kind of remorse that, at least in the minds of many, makes a criminal a legitimate candidate for legal mercy is also examined. The author, exploring both moral and epistemic issues, will express considerable skepticism toward relying on judgments about offender remorse at the time of sentencing, but less skepticism about relying on such judgments at the time of an executive decision to grant clemency.

Keywords: nature of remorse; religion; moral character; legal mercy; clemency; acts of apology; skepticism

Chapter.  17803 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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