Forgiveness: Moral Prerogative or Religious Duty?

Journal of Religious Ethics 15 (2):141 - 154 (1987)
Abstract
Philosophers have sometimes drawn a distinction between supererogation and duty. This paper considers the possibility that a religious understanding of hu- man life and history may require what would otherwise be considered praise worthy but not obligatory. The specific example here is forgiveness. The paper sketches a view of forgiveness and suggests that forgiveness is not, at least in contemporary (secular) Western thought, considered to be a moral obligation. Several reasons why this might be the case are considered as well as how par- ticular Christian beliefs about God's justice and mercy may transform this situa- tion. The paper concludes that given certain religious beliefs, forgiveness may be both moral prerogative and religious duty.
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