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Title: Making amends for historical wrongs : social roles, responsibility and apologies
Author: Andersson, Henrik
ISNI:       0000 0004 2727 2321
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2012
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The aim of this thesis is to show that people today can have a duty to make amends for historical wrongs. The argument revolves around the concept of social roles - construed as a set of rights and duties - which can be used as a compromise when trying to navigate between individual and collective responsibility. This is used both in attempting to explain the nature of past wrongs and justifying present responsibility-ascription. The historical cases this is applied to are the wrongs done to the Aborigines in Australia and the Sami people in Sweden. Both these cases, it is argued, are instances of institutional wrongs. This means that the individuals involved in them did not do wrong in their private capacity, but were coerced and enabled by the social roles they were in. The institutions were instrumental in the wronging and thus we can make sense of the idea of blaming the system. In the end, this means that the duty to make amends is assigned to roles within that system - the important thing being not who people are but what. However, considering both the moral and practical difficulties of making amends for historical wrongs, the preferred approach will be to make moral amends by offering an apology, or more precisely an institutional apology. This is slightly different from an interpersonal one, but it is those differences that make it possible and meaningful for someone to apologise in virtue of a social role. When applied to the cases at hand, the conclusion is that institutional apologies are called for. It has indeed been given in the Australian case, but the Swedish attempt in doing so was a failed one and the duty to make amends remains.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available