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Making AmendsAtonement in Morality, Law, and Politics$
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Linda Radzik

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195373660

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373660.001.0001

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Changing One's Heart, Changing the Past

Changing One's Heart, Changing the Past

Repentance and Moral Transformation

(p.55) Chapter Three Changing One's Heart, Changing the Past
Making Amends

Linda Radzik (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The theories examined in this chapter suggest that atonement for moral wrongdoing consists in a transformation either of the wrongdoer or the wrongful action. The interest in transformation is most commonly expressed in a demand for repentance — a form of rehabilitation or reformation that is accompanied by moral emotions such as regret, remorse, and shame. Repentant wrongdoers are sometimes described as undergoing a change of identity that frees them from their guilt. At other times, repentance and other forms of atonement are described as changing the meaning of the past, whereby an act once deemed wrongful is renarrated as something positive in light of later responses by the wrongdoer. Chapter 3 defends the value of repentance but argues that it is insufficient for atonement because it fails to address the social nature of wrongdoing.

Keywords:   repentance, rehabilitation, reformation, regret, remorse, shame, guilt, moral emotion

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