I’ve just listened to the audio version of this videoblog (mp3 download on page)
between two academic evolutionary psychology types (Michael McCullough, Dacher Keltner) who talk (among other things) about the results of the fact that justice systems often do not provide closure. Justice systems were preceded by the evolved behavior of revenge which while costly – historically acted before governments existed to ‘enforce’ cooperative behavior.
Historically in most societies that depend on this cycle of revenge, there are rituals designed to end the cycle of revenge which involve acknowledgement of wrong doing, apology and in some cases exchange of tribute.
The whole download contains a range of vastly more detailed and nuanced concepts and is well worth listening to, but the modern version of this acknowledgement and apology they bring up is:
which is the theory behind the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. The underlying theory is that even today with government, laws and punishment based on a ‘fair’ judicial system – apology is sometimes required to create a greater feeling of justice and end a cycle of violence.