Institutional Evils, Culpable Complicity, and Duties to Engage in Moral Repair

In Claudia Card (ed.), Criticism and Compassion. Oxford, UK: Wiley. pp. 171–192 (2018-04-18)
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Apology is arguably the central act of the reparative work required after wrongdoing. Claudia Card’s (1940-2015) analysis of complicity in collectively perpetrated evils moves one to ask whether apology ought to be requested of persons culpably complicit in institutional evils. To better appreciate the benefits of and barriers to apologies offered by culpably complicit wrongdoers, this article examines doctors’ complicity in a practice that meets Card’s definition of an evil, namely, the non-medically necessary, nonconsensual “normalizing” interventions performed on babies born with intersex anatomies. It argues that in this instance, the complicity of doctors is culpable on Card’s terms, and that their culpable complicity grounds rightful demands for them to apologize.

Author Profiles

Eliana Luxemburg-Peck
CUNY Graduate Center
Ellen K. Feder
American University


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