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To Punish or to Forgive?

Responding to Dirty Hands in Politics

Cristina Roadevin

How should citizens respond to dirty-hands acts? This issue has been neglected in the theoretical literature, which has focused on the dilemma facing the politician and not on the appropriate responses of citizens. Nevertheless, dirty-hands scenarios pose a serious dilemma for the democratic citizens as well: we cannot simply condone the dirtyhanded act but should instead express our moral condemnation and disapproval. One way of doing this is through blame and punishment. However, this proposal is unsatisfactory, as dirty-hands agents commit wrongdoing through no fault of their own. I argue that we ought to make conceptual space for an idea of no-fault responsibility – and a corresponding notion of no-fault forgiveness – according to which we can hold agents to obligations without blaming them.

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This issue of Theoria marks a decade of democracy in South Africa. Invited to reflect on the process and challenge of building a modern liberal democracy and on progress towards social justice since 1994, the contributors have responded with detailed and in-depth analyses of a range of pertinent issues, from public institutions, national reform strategies, popular perceptions and moral responsibility to philosophical ideals, educational reforms, political participation and unrepudiated injustices. Beyond apartheid, beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and beyond party politics, greater and more inclusive social justice, if not immediately within reach, is certainly attainable: through the equalization and redistribution of access to resources, through reparations for injustices, through respect for rights and recognition of obligations, through compromise, sympathy, socialization and debate, and through making sense of change, both symbolically and practically. Most of all, justice will be served, and democracy advanced, by promoting, widening and multiplying spaces and opportunities for people to conceptualize and act upon social transformation in new and different ways.

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The Ambiguity of Subversion

Resistance through Radio Broadcasting

Gisli Vogler

therefore all acts of subversion were positive and indeed that all actors who bid their time and accepted the rules of the game can be freed of moral responsibility. Instead, it attunes us to the everyday lived experience, complexities and ambivalences of