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I'm Sorry

by Tony M.

What do you mean when you say “I’m sorry”? Or offer an apology?

Under what conditions do you tend to say “I’m sorry” in offering an apology or otherwise?

What feelings are present in you when you say it?

Most of us have a pretty good feel for what it means and what we are doing when we use it, in broad terms. When you get down to cases, though, there could be some confusion about it. Actually, a fair amount.

Generally, you intend to convey some kind of regret. You wish something were otherwise. But in some cases, you are going further than regret about a state of affairs, it is regret about your own behavior that is at issue. And, to be still more specific, sometimes it is regret at having done something morally wrong: i.e. remorse for your morally culpable action that is responsible for that regrettable “state of affairs”.

Indeed, sometimes we DISTINGUISH that a so-called “apology” fails to be a “real” apology precisely because you fail to recognize your actions as wrong and fail to accept moral responsibility, moral fault. We see this in the apologies of spoiled celebrities, like politicians who are “sorry” for their extra-marital affairs, but reject that their behavior was actually wrong. It turns out that what they are sorry about is that they got caught, and then that someone else (their spouse) is feeling hurt by their actions, but they do not actually regret doing the actions. (Or they regret them only insofar as they are bringing negative attention right now.) We see the same thing with movie stars who treat hired help shabbily and take them for granted, and when sports stars are “sorry” for taking enhancing drugs.

And we respond to these “apologies” by saying “that’s no apology”, because the person fails to show they have any remorse for their morally culpable behavior. Real remorse would be a feeling that if you could go back in time and had the situation in front of you again, you would NOT give in to the temptation, you would choose to do the right thing. (At least, you wish that you would.) It isn’t remorse if you have no interior turning away from the evil choice you made, no internal repudiation of the behavior itself, only of the unpleasant effects like notoriety and being called out by others.

But we use “I’m sorry” more broadly than just when we are apologizing for a failing. We use it to express sympathy and condolences: I’m sorry your dog died. I’m sorry you lost that job opportunity. In these cases, you are offering a kind of regret for a state of affairs, without any sense that you personally are somehow involved in the state of affairs being that way. It is purely sympathy at a sad or difficult situation.

Yet there is a middle ground between these two types of situations. Suppose that you ARE personally involved in the state of affairs being that way, but not morally culpable. This can happen in a number of ways, but I will set out 3 generic types, which I will call the “accidental”, the “incidental”, and the “mistake”.

(A) In the accidental situation, you try to do X, which is perfectly reasonable and free of nasty results, but due to human limitations you miss your mark. You try to hit the baseball safely on a hit-and-run, but you hit a line drive into a double play. Back at the dugout, you say “Sorry, man.” You try to carry the paint can over to your colleague, but you trip and spill it. You try to add up the column of numbers rightly, but you drop a digit. Categorically, this type is when you make an attempt to do something suitable, you just don’t execute what you intended, by accident.

(B) The incidental case is slightly different: you successfully achieve the proximate objective O you had in mind, but your actions ALSO play into other events or chains of them that incidentally (and without your intention or even considering) brings about some untoward condition P. For example, you pick out a wine that complements the meal exceptionally well…so much so that cousin Charles forgets his usual 2-glass limit and makes an ass of himself.

(C) The mistake is something that you do intentionally because you think it will have good Y effect, but you are mistaken and instead it will have Z effect which is unfortunate. For example, you buy your girlfriend a gift that you think she will like (say, a sweater), but she takes it wrongly and hates it (maybe it’s the wrong size, maybe she takes it as your commenting on her wardrobe). Or you take a “short cut” to get your kid to school, but because of traffic it takes 35 minutes longer.

We can lump all three of these in one larger class: the non-intentional (of some sort). That is, the specific sad outcome that happens is outside of your intentions when you choose the behavior. But it is YOU that is choosing the action. In A, the action of hitting the ball or walking with the paint is reasonable, even a good thing; it’s just that as a human being you cannot WILL (formally) to do every action “perfectly”, you can only will to do it, humanly, and try to do it rightly. The defect that happens apart from your intention is in some sense your defect, but it certainly isn’t a defect you willed, and it isn’t a defect OF your will. In a sense, you are as much a victim of the defect as the person who suffers the consequences, for you are the unwilling subject of the lack.

In B, the sad outcome happens either through or at least with your action, but it is not (due to) your choice, or at least not _simply_ so. In order for a situation to fall in this group, you have to have not realized that P would come along for the ride, or, at least, not clearly. This can either be because P is not a likely result from your action, or because you failed to think of the P as one of the associated consequences, or some combination of the two. If P is very unlikely, say, a lightning strike, the fact that you drove your mother to just the right place to be hit by it is almost an irrelevancy to correctly characterizing your behavior. But in other cases where P is only moderately implausible or even just not particularly probable, we characterize your “involvement” in the sad outcome differently: either you “might have” recognized the possibility, or “you could have” considered it, had you taken more effort and time.

For C, the evil outcome is not only not IN your intention, often it is quite contrary to your intention, but (being limited) you are unable to foresee the right actions that would bring about your intended result (and preclude the one you don’t want). You have mistaken what will bring about the result you are looking for, and/or have been mistaken about the result your chosen action will actually bring about.

But in all of them, your action has some kind of causality in bringing the unfortunate result, even though the result is also in some sense not intentional. What kind, is the subject of many debates. For this purpose, though, the question is this: do you say “I’m sorry” for them? Do you apologize for them?

Please notice that those are not the same question.

I think it is quite normal to respond to a situation like A, B, or C with a quick “I’m sorry”. Often, it is followed up by something like “I didn’t mean to do…” or “I didn’t intend for that to happen. Frequently, we will commiserate with the person who is on the receiving end of whatever unfortunate event happens: the person whose toe I stepped on, the person whose car I rear-ended, the person who is late because I spilled the paint.

When we way “I am sorry, I didn’t mean to make you late by spilling the paint”, is that an “apology”?

I regret what happened. (He is late.) I regret being the cause (insofar as that goes). I regret not having walked more carefully.

But I have no remorse for having done wrong. I didn’t do a wrongdoing. I had no thought-process like “I might spill this if I don’t take sufficient care…but I don’t feel like taking sufficient care, so I won’t bother”. I wasn’t “wrong” by a negligent act, I was “wrong” by an accident, something that happens in spite of taking due care.

I submit that “apology” is when you have actual remorse for having chosen the action you chose, because it was morally wrong, not merely because it had consequences that you did not anticipate. That is, when the choice was culpable, not merely unfortunate. (You don’t have remorse over having chosen to pick up the paint can and walked with it, it was neither the picking it up nor the walking with it that was the problem, it was the tripping that was the issue, and you didn’t choose that.) It is this explicit recognition and advertence that “I was at fault for so choosing” that makes an apology a part of recompense for wrongdoing: without explicitly admitting moral fault, what occurs is not “apology” and is not any kind of ‘satisfaction’ for the moral fault. This is why, when celebrities give their “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it” hall of shame comments, (where what they mean is “I am sorry I got caught”, or “I am sorry you guys are making such a big deal of this”), it makes us MORE disgusted with them, not less.

However, others apparently think that it is an apology that is called for in the truly accidental cases, and incidental misfortunes (including the ones where there wasn’t even any negligence), and the real mistaken cases where you simply misjudge the results of an action.

So, what’s your take on it?

Comments (11)

I'm sorry I don't agree with you. Actually I tend to do agree with you. I think you can feel sorry for things that aren't your fault, if you take sorry to mean just being upset or disappointed with how things turned out, but it doesn't make sense to give an apology for what you're not culpable for. Personally, I get annoyed when people say sorry to me for trivial things for which they're not responsible, I'm not sure why, though. On the other hand I like the board game Sorry!

On the other hand I like the board game Sorry!

Heh, that's kind of funny. If I recall correctly, the game name comes from when you forcibly send someone back to the starting point, or at least many spaces backwards. It is your doing, and something unfortunate for them - which is why you are "sorry" (hah!, said with glee), but of course since it is part of the rules and the object is for you to win over them, it is not a culpable action on your part and you do not regret it per se because you intend to win, you intend to set them back many spaces. The "sorry" is, I think, fairly tongue in cheek.

Which, I think, sheds light on what being sorry really is. You can be sorry-in-a-sense for the pain someone has to suffer in order for some good to be achieved, but if their pain is a necessary part of the pathway of achieving that good, then your sorrow doesn't amount to actual regret that the action is done, yours (or theirs), by which the good is achieved. As a surgeon, you can be "sorry" for the pain you are going to cause the patient, but you still don't regret the surgery you are going to do. If you are a physical therapist, you may be "sorry" for (i.e. sympathize for) the pain the patient is going to suffer when he does the exercise you tell him to do, but you don't regret telling him to do it and you don't regret his doing it. You regret the pain associated with the action chosen, but not the act.

This is definitely a different sort of being sorry than the regret and remorse for the sinful choice you made, which, by your now having turned away from that evil, if you had the same choice put before you now, you would reject doing. THAT's what an apology (and remorse) entails.

So, when a celebrity says "I am sorry that some people took offense at what I said", he is not regretting that he said it, he is regretting the pain that some are suffering at his doing it. Which isn't an apology, it's a repudiation of moral culpability for having said it.

I would suggest, then, that the "I'm sorry" that we utter in sympathy for someone's pain is something similar to the "I'm sorry" of an apology, but not the same thing. It is 'similar' in the sense of approaching toward being an apology because it has one of the elements necessary in an apology, but it is lacking other elements that are necessary for true apology. It is a "defective" sort of likeness only in the case where true apology is called for but you refuse to give it. It is, in other cases, only a cousin to true apology, with nothing to apologize for (heh) because of its family likeness.

The trouble, of course, comes when people mistake one for the other. This can go either way: when the person at fault fails to recognize their fault and fails to have any remorse for their wrong action; or when the person being "apologized to" takes it as the other person apologizing admitting to culpable fault when they are not at moral fault and did not mean to say so.

And, unfortunately, the gray area in the middle: where the person whose action precipitated the sad outcome may be guilty by negligence (but it is less than clear). Or, in other circumstances, he may have an admixture of evil intent along with his perfectly reasonable motivation in doing an action he ought to have done anyway, even though it could precipitate that sad outcome (because, with our impure hearts, we often have mixed motives for actions).

This is (at least partly) why saying "I'm sorry" and apologizing has prudential hazards, especially when done haphazardly. It's not that we shouldn't do it, its that we should do it well, and that means with attention to detail.

I've always noticed in myself how much more sorry I often *feel* for things that are morally non-culpable (or very close to it) than for things that are morally culpable. For example, when I took off the side mirror of the car by misjudging the width of the garage door while backing out or pulling in (this has really happened, twice, or is it three times?), I felt just *terrible*. I'm abjectly apologizing to my husband and face palming and curling up inside with shame. I'm going back in my mind to the moments before it happened and wishing I could have tweaked the wheel just a little bit that other way, etc.

But if I'm unkind to someone, I'm usually prone to make internal excuses or to focus on what they said that really ticked me off, etc. I really have to push myself to apologize.

I'm guessing that the psychological reason for this is that one often feels like a fool for the non-culpable kind of accident. That sense of looking like a fool is not always present when one was unkind in speech. Also, the non-culpable kind of accident often costs money, and we humans are perhaps more prone to feel embarrassed about doing something accidental that costs money (and other forms of purely practical nuisance) than "just" something (culpable) that costs hurt feelings or relationship strain.

This raises the question: How sincerely can one apologize for a wrong action if one's feelings are not in line with one's intellectual evaluation of the wrong that one has done? A Spock-like apology is better than none, but the recipient is probably not going to find it very satisfactory.

That's a great question, Lydia. I don't have a good answer off the top of my head. Maybe, since we are not Vulcans but are human beings (with emotions and passions built in and proper to us), a purely intellectual sort of remorse indicates a failure to be actually remorseful.

Or maybe having remorse for moral faults is one of those things that wee need to work on as a virtue, and having it poorly in one instance is just a pointer that we need more work on the virtue. Classically, one of the reasons to meditate on the passion and death of Jesus is to learn to have a proper sense of the wrongness of our sins.

I've always noticed in myself how much more sorry I often *feel* for things that are morally non-culpable

In any case, and speaking for myself only, I suspect that my feeling this way is, precisely, an effect of vanity, because I hate looking like (or feeling like) I have acted the fool. And boy do I hate it: "It's OK, I meant to do that..."

St. Paul points us in the opposite direction, we must become fools for Christ:

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I decided to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

On a practical level, the "Vulcan" question is connected with one of "pastoral" advice, for want of a better word. Suppose that one is mentoring someone who says, "I know that was wrong, but I just don't feel sorry for it. So I guess I can't say I'm sorry, right?" What does one tell him? Now, this could obviously be used as an excuse by someone who is not sorry in *any* sense, someone who has no intention of turning around his life.

My own opinion is approximately this: You tell the person that he should pray frequently for the feelings of remorse proper to his having thus offended God, and in the meanwhile to bend his will *fully* to turning away from that action and never repeating it, making a commitment of the will never to do so and willing to tell everyone who has a right to know that he realizes the wrong of what he did and is committed to an "amendment of life."

Surely even someone who right now doesn't have the appropriate feelings about the offense can take that advice, right? All of that lies within the sphere of the right will. And giving that advice does not risk giving in to a kind of emotional excuse-making: Hey, it's not my fault. I *can't* repent, because God (or fate, or whatever) isn't giving me the right feelings.

Surely even someone who right now doesn't have the appropriate feelings about the offense can take that advice, right? All of that lies within the sphere of the right will. And giving that advice does not risk giving in to a kind of emotional excuse-making: Hey, it's not my fault. I *can't* repent, because God (or fate, or whatever) isn't giving me the right feelings.

Absolutely. The requirement for true remorse is in the will, not in the emotions or feelings. The recognition of having done wrong, and the repudiation of that wrong by making a purpose of amendment to not repeat it JUST IS the remorse needed for an apology, and the feelings are a side-light to that.

This is the other side of the coin for "love". When a man and woman promise to love each other in marriage vows, they are promising acts of the will, not emotional responses. Acts of the will are more or less by definition within our power. When a husband in marriage counseling tells a priest that "I just don't love her any more", the priest's correct response is not "you need to get that feeling back" but "It doesn't matter what you FEEL, your FREE CHOICES to refuse to love her in concrete situations are precisely the problem. By saying 'I don't love her' you are saying 'I am refusing to meet my duty and my promise toward her, even though I could do so if I chose to'. So start choosing to do so.

You've got the wrong Star Trek character. In a conversation with Mr. Spock in, "The Immunity Syndrome," from the second season (the one with the giant amoeba and that was robbing the Enterprise of power), the following exchange occurs:

"Suffer the death of thy neighbor," eh, Spock? You wouldn't wish that on us, would you?"
"It might have rendered your history a bit less bloody."

- McCoy and Spock on feeling empathy for the dead Intrepid crew

We do not feel what others feel. If we did, I suspect we would be apologizing a lot more and curbing our behavior even more. Granted people can feel hurt because they mis-evaluate a situation and take offense where there is none (Aquinas has a discussion of this under the topic of scandal: Summa Theologica, II.II Q. 43, art. 7).

The Chicken

Here is at least part of the point Chicken was referring to, from St. Thomas:

Again a distinction seems necessary among spiritual things which are not necessary for salvation: because the scandal which arises from such things sometimes proceeds from malice, for instance when a man wishes to hinder those spiritual goods by stirring up scandal. This is the "scandal of the Pharisees," who were scandalized at Our Lord's teaching: and Our Lord teaches (Matthew 15:14) that we ought to treat such like scandal with contempt. Sometimes scandal proceeds from weakness or ignorance, and such is the "scandal of little ones." On order to avoid this kind of scandal, spiritual goods ought to be either concealed, or sometimes even deferred (if this can be done without incurring immediate danger), until the matter being explained the scandal cease. If, however, the scandal continue after the matter has been explained, it would seem to be due to malice, and then it would no longer be right to forego that spiritual good in order to avoid such like scandal.

MC, thanks for bringing up St. Thomas, as apologising seems to also fit in as one of the "potential parts of justice", explained thusly:

potential parts: The cardinal virtue in question is related to these parts in the way that the rational soul is related to the operations of its own vegetative and sentient powers, i.e., the form of the whole is the principal of operation for the potential parts, but those operations in some way fall short of the operations of the principal form. So the potential parts of a cardinal virtue share something in common with that virtue but fall short of fully satisfying its formal definition. For instance, the potential parts of justice (e.g., religion, filial piety, truthfulness, gratitude, affability, etc.) all involve, as does justice, our relations with others. But whereas justice, strictly speaking, is the rendering of what is legally due to one's equals, the potential parts are concerned with relations between unequals and/or with demands that are moral rather than strictly legal. Again, in the case of prudence the potential parts are good inquiry (eubilia) and good judgment both in matters that conform to ordinary rules (synesis) and in matters that call for exceptions to ordinary rules (gnome). For inquiry and judgment fall short of the principal act of prudence, which is to command or give precepts for action. In general, then, potential parts are virtues which "are adjoined to the cardinal virtue and are ordered toward certain secondary acts or subject matters; they do not have the full power, as it were, of the principal virtue."

Now, the potential parts of justice are laid out like this:

As explained elsewhere, the potential parts of a cardinal virtue participate in that virtue while falling short of satisfying its complete definition. Justice, strictly speaking, is a virtue by which we render others their lawful due according to equality, so that failure to do so is a fitting matter for litigation and punishment in the eyes of those who care for the good of the relevant community.

Consequently, all the potential parts of justice are similar to the principal virtue in having to do with our treatment of others. However, they fall short of satisfying the complete definition of justice in either one of two ways:

---• with respect to equality: This occurs when the person or persons to whom we owe something are such they we cannot render them their due according to equality. That is, we cannot give back to them anything close to equal what they have given us by virtue of their generosity, example, guidance, etc. There are three potential parts of justice that fall under this category:

------o religion (religio), which is the virtue by which we honor God directly by appropriate interior and exterior acts.
------o piety (pietas), which is the virtue by which we honor our parents and our homeland.
------o respect (observantia), which is the virtue by which we render honor (dulia) and obedience (obedientia) to those who are our superiors because of their virtue or because of their office.

---• with respect to lawful due: Here St. Thomas distinguishes lawful due (debitum legale), which is the object of justice proper, from moral due (debitum morale), which has to do with the rectitude of virtue.

------o The relevant moral due is required to such a degree that virtue is well-nigh impossible without it:

--------- What one owes to others, absolutely speaking: Truthfulness (honesty) in self-representation.
--------- What one owes to others by way of compensation for things done to one: Gratitude for good things and vindication (punishment) for bad things.

------o The relevant moral due is conducive to, but not absolutely required for, virtue: Liberality, friendliness, etc. (How about niceness or pleasantness, which often impresses us more than moral rectitude?).

St. Thomas discusses friendliness as its own virtue, attached to justice:

I answer that, As stated above (II-II:109:2; I-II:55:3), since virtue is directed to good, wherever there is a special kind of good, there must needs be a special kind of virtue. Now good consists in order, as stated above (II-II:109:2). And it behooves man to be maintained in a becoming order towards other men as regards their mutual relations with one another, in point of both deeds and words, so that they behave towards one another in a becoming manner. Hence the need of a special virtue that maintains the becomingness of this order: and this virtue is called friendliness....
I answer that, This virtue is a part of justice, being annexed to it as to a principal virtue. Because in common with justice it is directed to another person, even as justice is: yet it falls short of the notion of justice, because it lacks the full aspect of debt, whereby one man is bound to another, either by legal debt, which the law binds him to pay, or by some debt arising out of a favor received. For it regards merely a certain debt of equity, namely, that we behave pleasantly to those among whom we dwell, unless at times, for some reason, it be necessary to displease them for some good purpose.

The point is, I think, that it is part of the virtue of friendliness to be sympathetic for mishaps that arise from your own behavior (even when that behavior is upright and the mishap is wholly accidental), whereas it is a virtue (corresponding to gratitude, but in reverse) to apologize for your wrongdoings (and thus owed as a debt of justice).

I would suggest that it stands as a kind of virtue of the middle ground in between sympathy and apologizing for a known fault, AND ALSO in between the extremes of obsequiousness and pride, to accept and bear such incomplete or imperfect blame as attaches to gray-area events that MAY be due to some kind of negligence on your part, something that was inadvertent but perhaps if you had paid more attention it would have been avoidable. This seems to be a separate virtue, first because it clearly stands in between two vices of excess. And second because it seems to call on another internal propriety than that of the mere friendliness of sympathy, while on the other side of the interaction the proper due response is not "I forgive you" but something rather different: something along the lines of "oh, it's no matter, nothing to worry about" or "let's just forget about it" or "I might have done the same thing" (implying "and I wouldn't hold myself to account over it, so I don't hold you to account for it").

So, in terms of justice:

(1) When the unfortunate result is CLEARLY the result of outside causes of which I am merely the occasion, and for which I obviously bear no blame, the virtue of friendliness implies: on my part, sympathy; and on the victim's part, to accept the sympathy as my TRUE intention of good will, and not the sad result.

(2) When the unfortunate result is clearly (or probably) the result of my fault either of commission or omission, a virtue opposite gratitude requires: on my part, apology; and on the victim's part, acceptance of apology as indicative my (NEW) true intent to avoid doing harm. I think the virtue is "repentance", understood as a quality of soul rather than the act itself.

(3) When the unfortunate result is neither clearly nor probably the result of my fault even by negligence or omission, but MAY be so in some part or degree, the virtue that stands mid-way between the extremes of obsequiousness and pride (and for which we have no special name) requires: on my part, an acceptance of an imperfect sort of "blame" that is specific to the indistinct, uncertain, and ambiguous nature of the facts; and, on the part of the victim, to accept my offering to bear that imperfect sort of blame with an act of rejecting or refusing to allot blame, or to diminish the matter as like to nothing: to excuse the act (with regard to the harm suffered). The behavior (on both parties) is akin to the meaning of "pouring oil on troubled waters", and becomes part of what is described by Christ in "blessed are the peace-makers" - but while the victim's proper action can be characterized by the notion of "excusing", my action needs to be the exact opposite of making an excuse, but rather of offering a not-excuse.

In all three cases, there is a kind of equality, where the two parties in a sense "meet in the middle", justice is satisfied with what is given and received which makes them in equilibrium.

If this is right, obviously we a need name for a previously unnamed virtue, in the 3rd sort of interaction: the victim's virtue is that of excusing my part (if any) in their suffering, and my virtue is...? Any suggestions?

It is closely associated with meekness, (which also comes into play in the virtue of repentance, for I must be meek in order not to pridefully claim my wrongful behavior was really right); clearly I must be meek if I am not going to make excuses like "it was an accident" when what is it issue is whether it really was an accident. But it is distinct from general meekness, for it's correlative in the victim regards a very distinct kind of behavior, that of excusing my action of blame (rather than forgiving it, because it is inappropriate to "indulge" in forgiving me when it is not probable there was blame to begin with).


Aquinas already has a name for what you are describing: beneficence:


The Chicken

Chicken, how is "benificence", if that is the virtue here, different from the act of gratitude, of friendliness, of justice, of apology, and 10 other ways of interacting with another?

St. Thomas says in A1:

Beneficence simply means doing good to someone. This good may be considered in two ways, first under the general aspect of good, and this belongs to beneficence in general, and is an act of friendship, and, consequently, of charity: because the act of love includes goodwill whereby a man wishes his friend well, as stated above (II-II:23:1; II-II:27:2). Now the will carries into effect if possible, the things it wills, so that, consequently, the result of an act of love is that a man is beneficent to his friend. Therefore beneficence in its general acceptation is an act of friendship or charity.

and later (in A4)

Virtues differ according to the different aspects of their objects. Now the formal aspect of the object of charity and of beneficence is the same, since both virtues regard the common aspect of good, as explained above (Article 1). Wherefore beneficence is not a distinct virtue from charity, but denotes an act of charity.

So the term is not a special virtue in its own right, and denotes any act of charity. On the other hand, I was looking for the specific virtue that applies in the narrow situation I mentioned. St. Thomas clarifies in A1:

But if the good which one man does another, be considered under some special aspect of good, then beneficence will assume a special character and will belong to some special virtue.

And we DO consider acts under special act of good, which is why we have justice, and gratitude, and liberality, all as special virtues in relating to others. We don't just name them all "benificence" and leave it at that.

I argue that there is a special aspect of good in the person who leaps forward with an offer to shoulder some aspect of the burden of blame, when it is not clear that he is truly to blame but he might be by some smidgeon of inattention or negligence, so as to smooth over and mollify the hurt suffered by another. This is a special virtue, because one can see a person doing it either too much and too readily (where he obsequiously shoulders too much of the blame or accepts the blame even when it is utterly clear he is not to blame), or too little by holding himself completely aloof when it cannot be proven that he is to blame. Normally when a behavior is capable of being too much or too little, it is a special virtue to do it just right.

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