Court-ordered apologies add very little of value to the meanings and functions already present in contemporary legal proceedings and punishments. They also present considerable costs. This article first evaluates Kant’s infamous advocacy for court-ordered apologies as retributive humiliation as well arguments from contemporary Kantians who support court-ordered apologies on somewhat less divisive grounds. It then considers various consequentialist arguments for and against court-ordered apologies. Throughout these discussions clean distinctions between voluntary and involuntary apologies deteriorate. Any value we might derive from court-ordered apologies can probably be better realized through less problematic means.
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