The Philosophical Controversy over Political Forgiveness

In Paul van Tongeren, Neelke Doorn & Bas van Stokkom (eds.), Public Forgiveness in Post-Conflict Contexts. Intersentia 37-64 (2012)
The question of forgiveness in politics has attained a certain cachet. Indeed, in the fifty years since Arendt commented on the notable absence of forgiveness in the political tradition, a vast and multidisciplinary literature on the politics of apology, reparation, and reconciliation has emerged. To a novice scouring the relevant literatures, it might appear that the only discordant note in this new veritable symphony of writings on political forgiveness has been sounded by philosophers. There is a more-than-healthy cynicism directed at what many philosophers see as an uncritical promotion of forgiveness, which – they fear – risks distorting and cheapening forgiveness as a moral ideal, on the one hand, and ignoring the moral and political values of justice, accountability and the cessation of harmful relationships, on the other. Are philosophical fears about the dangers of thinking about forgiveness in political terms warranted – or do they perhaps depend in part on conceptual conservatism regarding what exactly political forgiveness might be? I argue that most, if not all, standard objections to political forgiveness emerge from theoretical reliance on a picture of forgiveness I will call the Emotional Model. Once we make conceptual space for descriptions of forgiveness in performative and social terms, the concept is more easily adapted to a political account without at least some of the risks feared by philosophers
Keywords Forgiveness  Political Forgiveness  Collective Responsibility  Hannah Arendt  Transitional Justice  Desmond Tutu
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive Alice MacLachlan, The Philosophical Controversy over Political Forgiveness
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Molly Andrews (2000). Forgiveness in Context. Journal of Moral Education 29 (1):75-86.
Linda Radzik (2011). Hampton on Forgiveness. APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Law 10 (2):1-6.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

291 ( #8,963 of 1,932,454 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

95 ( #2,368 of 1,932,454 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.