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"What Good Is Remorse?"

Harvard professor Marc Hauser rocked the science world last month when evidence surfaced indicating that he may have committed the ultimate sin of fabricating data. Given that Hauser is a leading expert in the field of moral psychology and author of the book "Moral Minds," the academic community is bewildered by his actions, including his tight-lipped admission of some "mistakes" (but not misconduct) in response to the scientific misconduct charges. Only if he were to remorsefully give a full and frank account of his errors could the process start of repatriating him into the community in some form, his colleagues tell The New York Times.

 

Redemption through a showing of remorse is a common path in society -- but what role does remorse play in a court of law? Can people get a second chance at being repatriated into the community if they are remorseful about their actions, after they've been caught and even convicted? Let's take the case of Ronell Wilson, the head of a violent gang in Staten Island, N.Y., who dealt drugs, committed robbery and coldly executed two undercover police officers who posed as gun buyers, brazenly declaring afterwards that he had "popped" them. All of this came out at trial. He was caught, convicted and sentenced to death.

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