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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 1, 1975

Louis F. Kort
Pages 78-87
DOI: 10.5840/pra197515

What is an Apology?

In this essay I attempt to elucidate the concept of an apology. I begin by considering the way in which apologizing is characterized by Erving Goffman; and I argue that his characterization does not suffice to distinguish the apology from many other speech acts. I then offer my own analysis, according to which (roughly) a speaker is apologizing to his hearer for something if and only if in saying what he does he is 1) expressing regret about it, 2) accepting responsibility for it, 3) acknowledging it to constitute an offense to his hearer, 4) expressing regret about it as such, and 5) making a gesture of respect to his hearer as a person with a right to be spared such mistreatment.