Warm up question: What is an apology?

Make a concept map around the word ‘apology’


Read the following extract from BBC Sport:

Zinedine Zidane has apologized for his headbutt on Italian defender Marco Materazzi in Sunday’s World Cup final

But the French legend does not regret his actions, alleging on television that Materazzi provoked him by insulting both his mother and sister.

‘It was inexcusable. I apologise,’ said the 34-year-old Zidane. ‘But I can’t regret what I did because it would mean that he was right to say all that.’


Task Question:

  • Did Zidane apologise?

Nested questions:

  • What is an apology?
  • What is regret?
  • Can one apologise without regret?
  • What is the relationship between apologizing and regret?
  • Are there different kinds of apology? (E.g. public, personal, legal etc.)
  • When is an apology not an apology?

Australia’s Stolen Generation

In 1909, the Australian government and church believed aboriginals to be inferior parents to their children than whites. They thought that if an aboriginal child was taken from their parents and raised by whites then they would be brought up to have a better life, more like how a european would live. So they decided to do just that.  

Officials were sent to take children from their mothers and have them raised by white families. It was hopped that if aboriginal children grew up to marry white skinned people then over five or six generations the traces of aboriginal heritage would not show in their faces and skin colour. The indigenous race would become extinct and Australia would contain only one race of people. 

The taking of children was practiced for 61 years. It finished in 1970.

In 2008 the Australian government organised a special Sorry Day dedicated to showing remorse for the destruction of Aboriginal culture by white skinned Australians. A ‘Stolen Generation’ group was form made of taken children who told of what it was like to grow up without their biological parents and the abuse or care that followed. The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd publicly apologised and promised to try and make a mends for what had happened. 

Task Question:

  •  Should Kevin Rudd have said sorry?

Nested Questions

  • Can you apologise for something your nation has done?
  • Can you apologise for something your nation did a long time ago?
  • Should you say sorry because you want the situation to be better?
  • If Rudd wasn’t alive to oversee the taking of children then does his apology count?
  • Can the Australian government ever make a mends?
  • How will he know if his apology has been accepted?
  • There were white skinned Australians who didn’t want Rudd to apologise. Does this mean his apology doesn’t count?

For more information go here:           

Obama’s Japan visit

Read the following short BBC news post:

Barack Obama is to visit Hiroshima this month – the first serving US president to travel to the Japanese city since it was hit by a US nuclear bomb in 1945.

The visit will be part of an Asian trip from 21-28 May that will also take in Vietnam.

The Hiroshima bombing on 6 August 1945 killed 140,000 people. Along with a second bombing on Nagasaki – it is credited with ending World War Two.

The White House said there would be no apology for the bombings.

A statement from Mr. Obama’s press secretary read: “The President will make an historic visit to Hiroshima with Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe to highlight his continued commitment to pursuing peace and security in a world without nuclear weapons.”

Task Question:

  • Should President Obama apologise on behalf of the American people?

Nested questions:

  • Can President Obama apologise on behalf of the American people?
  • When is an apology appropriate?
  • If the americans did the best thing in bombing Japan, should Obama apologise?
  • If the americans did not do the best thing in bombing Japan, should Obama apologise?[3] 

For more go here:

I think this is different to the Obama case as it is more unambiguous that the stolen generation were wronged, whereas the context of war makes judging the the america’s actions more difficult. So i think there is room for both examples as they both bring something different to the mix. Also, one is a “Should he” (future) and the other “Should he have” (past).  

Irrelevant detail?

For me there is an ethics question that must first me addressed before we can cover weather he should apologise or not. 

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