The Language of Regrets, Apologies, and Reparations

In a bid to explain these terms and their differences, this Directory has drawn heavily on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which suggests that terms of this measure overall “focus on restoring a sense of dignity and inclusion to formerly mistreated and disempowered parties.

Individually we accept the following interpretations:

Regret: In its most basic terms, regret is defined as an “expression of apology” or “sadness over something that has been done.” Arguments presented in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy suggest that a party can express regret and remorse without believing they have done something wrong.

Regret can be seen as a statement where the wrongdoer does not take responsibility for any harm yet apologizes for the instance of harm.

Thus the Directory Definition: is an expression of apology for a specific instance of harm, which does not always signify wrongdoing.

Apology: The term apology is often intertwined with regret and necessitates an acknowledgment of harm and a taking of responsibility on behalf of the “wrongdoer.” Given the historical nature of this grievance (i.e., the slave trade, slavery, colonialism), apologies are made to the descendants of the wronged party and “interested communities. ”

Example of what is not an Apology:
“One may reasonably question whether mere admissions that “mistakes were made” (which do not own up to responsibility or specify what the mistakes themselves were) or that the speaker “regrets if anyone took offense” (which leaves open the question of whether the action was really wrong) qualify as apologies at all (Smith 2008).”

Thus the Directory Definition: is an expression of regret where the wrongdoer takes responsibility for the harm they have caused to the wronged party/ community and acknowledges its effects on the population.

Reparation: A repair of harm that stipulates wrongdoing. Reparations are often linked to restitution, which suggests the restoration of a “loss” but does not stipulate any wrongdoing has to occur.

Thus the Directory Definition: is an expression or commitment toward repairing harm and restoring power within wronged parties who have been disempowered given the nature of the harm.

Other terms

Reconciliation: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy names reconciliation as “the improvement in the relationship between two or more parties who were previously in conflict.” The dictionary offers a similar definition as it is defined as the “restoration of friendly relations.” Within the context of western governments and wronged parties, this term has been debated because reconciliation relies on a previously formed relationship outside of harm.

Thus the Directory Definition: is an expression or commitment to restore relations between aggrieved individuals/ communities and wrongdoer[s].

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