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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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Repaying Moral Debts

Repaying Moral Debts

Self‐Punishment and Restitution

(p.25) Chapter Two Repaying Moral Debts
Making Amends

Linda Radzik (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The chapter focuses on the conception of atonement as repayment of a moral debt. The metaphor of moral debt and repayment is traditionally developed in two ways. First, retributivism and satisfaction theory suggest that wrongdoing can be repaid only through suffering, whether in the form of guilt, punishment, or penance (self-punishment). The second way focuses not on a loss or harm for the wrongdoer but on compensation for the victim. Although retributive and restitution theories of atonement share a conception of wrongdoing, they make opposing mistakes. Retributive theories elide the moral significance of victims. Restitution theories, on the other hand, fail to recognize the significance of the wrongdoers in that they are unable to justify the intuition that it is the wrongdoers themselves who must make the reparative response.

Keywords:   punishment, self-punishment, retributivism, penance, satisfaction theory, restitution, compensation, guilt

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