In this paper we explore the relationship between forgiving and punishment. We set out a number of arguments for the claim that if one forgives a wrongdoer, one should not punish her. We then argue that none of these arguments is persuasive. We conclude by reflecting on the possibility of institutional forgiveness in the criminal justice setting and on the differences between forgiveness and acts of mercy.
P.F. Strawson claimed that forgiveness is such an essential part of our moral practices that we could not extricate it from our form of life even if we so desired. But what is it about forgiveness that would make it such a central feature of our moral experience? In this paper, I suggest that the answer has to do with what I will call the normative significance of forgiveness. Forgiveness is normatively significant in the sense that, in its paradigmatic (...) instances, forgiving alters the operative norms bearing on the interaction between the victim and wrongdoer in certain characteristic ways. My project here is, first, to clarify the ways that paradigmatic cases of forgiveness alter the norms of interaction between victim and wrongdoer and to argue that it is in this respect that forgiveness is a normatively significant feature of our moral responsibility practices. Second, I show that most extant theories of forgiveness fail to explain the characteristic ways in which forgiving alters norms. Third, I offer a theory of forgiveness that accounts for this significant normative feature. I conclude by addressing two objections to my proposal. (shrink)
Most discussions of John Doris’s situationism center on what can be called descriptive situationism, the claim that our folk usage of global personality and character traits in describing and predicting human behavior is empirically unsupported. Philosophers have not yet paid much attention to another central claim of situationism, which says that given that local traits are empirically supported, we can more successfully act in line with our moral values if, in our deliberation about what to do, we focus on our (...) situation instead of on our moral character. Call this prescriptive situationism. In this paper, we will point toward a previously unrecognized tension between these two situationist theses and explore some ways for the situationist to address it. (shrink)
Philosophers writing on forgiveness typically defend the Resentment Theory of Forgiveness, the view that forgiveness is the overcoming of resentment. Rarely is much more said about the nature of resentment or how it is overcome when one forgives. Pamela Hieronymi, however, has advanced detailed accounts both of the nature of resentment and how one overcomes resentment when one forgives. In this paper, I argue that Hieronymi’s account of the nature of forgiveness is committed to two implausible claims about the norms (...) bearing on forgiveness. Her account is highly instructive, however, for it brings into relief how certain intuitive views about the norms of forgiveness should be used to constrain our theories about its nature. I conclude by defending this methodological proposal. (shrink)
It is sometimes claimed that forgiveness involves the cancellation of a moral debt. This way of speaking about forgiveness exploits an analogy between moral forgiveness and economic debt-cancellation. Call the view that moral forgiveness is like economic debt-cancellation the Economic Model of Forgiveness. In this article I articulate and motivate the model, defend it against some recent objections, and pose a new puzzle for this way of thinking about forgiveness.
One account of forgiveness claims that to forgive is to forbear punishment. Call this the Punishment-Forbearance Account of forgiveness. In this paper I argue that forbearing punishment is neither necessary nor sufficient for forgiveness.
In his paper, “The Paradox of Forgiveness“ (this Journal 6 (2009), p. 365-393), Leo Zaibert defends the novel and interesting claim that to forgive is deliberately to refuse to punish. I argue that this is mistaken.
Moral responsibility invariantism is the view that there is a single set of conditions for being morally responsible for an action (or omission or consequence of an act or omission) that applies in all cases. I defend this view against some recent arguments by Joshua Knobe and John Doris.
An essential property is a property that an object possesses in every possible world in which that object exists. An individual essence is a property (or set of properties) that an object possesses in every world in which that object exists, and that no other object possesses in any possible world. Call the claim that some artifacts possess an individual essence ‘artifactual essentialism’. I will argue that artifactual essentialism is true.