Speaker Series 2023 April 14th

Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation & Rhetoric along with the PhD in Argumentation Studies at the University of Windsor invite you to a talk by

Mr. Ronnie Haidar, AS PhD Candidate

Official Apologies, Political Argumentation, and the Image Repair Theory

Abstract: Official apologies can have several functions. In her work, Beyond the Ideal Political Apology, Alice MacLachlan (2014) lists some of these functions, which include: "narrating a particular story of wrongdoing; disavowing those wrongs; acknowledging the addressee as someone impacted by those wrongs; making some appropriate commitment, amends or reform; initiating a process of reconciliation; or, on the other hand, enacting appropriate closure of the relationship". MacLachlan (2014) continues to explain that official apologies can also have more specific political functions and serve as examples of "politics in action" or "modes of doing politics". This paper examines how Canadian Prime Ministers Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau each engaged in political action by apologizing for Canada's role in the horrific Komagata Maru incident in 1914, which resulted in over twenty deaths. Prime Minister Harper and Prime Minister Trudeau both sought to achieve a successful political image repair by using tactics found in the Image Repair Theory, such as shifting blame, bolstering, corrective action, and mortification. Prime Minister Harper's apology was deemed a total disaster and "unacceptable," while Prime Minister Trudeau's apology was praised and considered a huge success. This paper argues that Prime Minister Trudeau's apology was better accepted than Prime Minister Harper's because he adhered closer to the first three of Hannah Arendt's axes of evaluation for meaningful political speech. This paper also argues that Prime Minister Trudeau was better able to achieve a successful political image repair because he effectively paired various tactics of the Image Repair Theory with more poignant language and launched his apology from a more official platform.


Friday, April 14, 2023

3:00 pm

Chrysler Hall North, 1163