Erin O'Connor

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Chicago-Kent Law Review

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As apology advocates have previously emphasized, much of the civil litigation that clogs court dockets in America today could be avoided with a simple heartfelt apology. Although sometimes difficult to offer, these expressions of remorse are profoundly powerful and valuable for humans as social animals. Nevertheless, apologies can be problematic. This Article used evolutionary theory as a tool to explore the costs of apology in two areas-spouse abuse and medical malpractice-to suggest that excessive victim forgiveness can, in some contexts, cast doubt on the effectiveness of a purely private litigation system for creating appropriate behavioral incentives. It also explored ways in which regulatory measures and criminal law can help to alleviate the distortion that apologetic behavior can create.

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