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The value of an apology

What does it mean when politicians apologise?

By AC Grayling   February 2014

In its Greek root “apology” means a speech in self-defence. We sometimes still use “apologia” to mean this, with perhaps a nuance in the direction of self-explanation rather than self-defence. But today an apology is an admission of fault as well as a statement of regret and conciliation towards an offended party. Words change their meanings and acquire different freight as usage carries them along; in the past, a politician accused of some great crime—corruption in office, massive failure of duty in affairs of state, or (perhaps more so today) making amorous advances towards members of his or her staff—might…

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