What's the difference between an explanation and an excuse?

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justanotherpersonsomewhere23124
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01 Oct 2023, 7:31 pm

Has anybody tried to tell you that you are making excuses, when you are trying to explain your disability? What's the difference?



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01 Oct 2023, 7:40 pm

Explanation: "I have Asperger's, so I tend to behave that way."

Excuse: "I have Asperger's, so you should not punish me for behaving that way."

An explanation informs, an excuse mitigates.

The fact that others think explanations are excuses means that they are too stupid to understand the difference.


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04 Oct 2023, 4:12 pm

An explanation is information that tells how or why something happened. An excuse is an explanation that seeks to get somebody out of trouble for some behaviour or other.

For some reason people tend to see the word "excuse" as being implicitly preceded by the word "lame" or "dishonest." Personally I'm against that assumption because good, genuine excuses do exist, and because during my formative years I heard my parents and teachers using the term "excuse" in a non-dismissive way. One of them warned us that if we didn't do something or other then an explanation wouldn't be good enough and that we'd need to present an excuse, and a convincing one at that. Also St. Paul described atheists as being "without excuse," which suggests that if they'd been "with excuse" then he'd have been happy with it. So some people at least used to see the definition my way. I don't know how or why the goalposts got moved.



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27 Nov 2023, 10:34 pm

Perception


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27 Nov 2023, 10:54 pm

Excuses are explanations, but with an expectation that you won't need to be accountable.


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28 Nov 2023, 9:20 am

MagicMeerkat wrote:
Perception

Often times that's how they're treated.

IMHO, an excuse is aimed at getting off the hook for whatever happened with no concern for the future. An explanation is something that may get you off the hook, but provides some clarity about what went wrong and hopefully how to fix it in the future.



bee33
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28 Nov 2023, 10:32 am

An excuse, when used in the negative, pejorative sense, is presumed to be a lie, and it's a lie to get yourself out of a responsibility or obligation.

A legitimate excuse is a valid reason why you couldn't do something. But people still might perceive it as a lie to get yourself out of taking responsibility.



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28 Nov 2023, 10:52 am

I'm thinking of excuses like, "I was drunk, your Honour. I didn't know what I was doing ... "

In my opinion that's likely true when people say it. It is an explanation, but it doesn't (shouldn't / can't) absolve the person from accountability for any harm they caused.


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28 Nov 2023, 7:30 pm

justanotherpersonsomewhere23124 wrote:
Has anybody tried to tell you that you are making excuses, when you are trying to explain your disability? What's the difference?

I get that all the time and I hate it. The difference is in the intent. If you are saying what you are saying just because you want to get out of doing something that you just don't want to do even though you are perfectly capable of doing it and possibly need to do it, that's an excuse. If you are explaining the reason why you legitimately cannot do something, that is an explanation.


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