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Remorse: Multi-disciplinary Perspectives on How Law Makes Use of a Moral Emotion
chapterposted on 2021-07-27, 23:28 authored by Steven TudorSteven Tudor, Michael Proeve, Richard Weisman, Kate Rossmanith
This chapter examines, from multiple disciplinary perspectives, a variety of issues raised when the remorseful (or unremorseful) offender comes before the law. It first looks at how remorse is defined, how it differs from shame and guilt, and whether the law should define remorse more precisely. It then turns to the question of how remorse is attributed in legal contexts, looking at what counts as evidence of remorse (including courtroom demeanour) and whether doubts about reliable findings of remorse at the sentencing stage mean the task should be left to parole hearings or even abandoned altogether. The chapter then looks at how the law is to acknowledge proven offender remorse (for example, through mitigation of punishment), and whether unremorseful offenders should be punished more severely than remorseful offenders. Finally, the chapter examines how the law helps to create and maintain moral communities through how it deals with remorse, including through its expectations of remorse and its power to decide when a showing of remorse is credible. The importance of this role is particularly evident in transitional societies, in which one moral community is undone and replaced by another.