Reasoning Like a State: Integration and the Limits of Official Regret

  • Cindy Holder
Part of the Rhetoric, Politics and Society Series book series (RPS)


Are there wrongs for which states cannot apologise? In this chapter, I argue that the answer is ‘Yes’. I begin with the simple observation that reasoning as a state official requires a conception of what officials do, and so a conception of what is — and is not — properly undertaken on behalf of the state. To act as an official, then, requires a theory of what happens in a well functioning state: it requires a normative theory of the state. Whether state officials can recognise their own actions or the actions of past state officials as wrongs for which apology is required will depend on their theory of the ends and interests that state actors may, and must, have. What officials believe to be necessary for a state to be a good example of its kind will affect what they recognise as outside the bounds of what a state official ought to do.


Aboriginal People Indigenous Community Normative Theory School Policy Royal Commission 
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© Cindy Holder 2014

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  • Cindy Holder

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