Reply to Griswold, Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration [Book Review]

Philosophia 38 (3):429-437 (2010)
Abstract
This paper replies to the account of forgiveness developed in Griswold’s Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration. It defends the idea that “unilateral” forgiveness is the paradigm case of the virtue of forgiveness, rejecting Griswold’s claims that forgiveness is essentially a “dyadic” virtue, and that reconciliation of the wronged party with the wrongdoer is a defining element of forgiveness. Forgiveness is fundamentally a matter of being reconciled to the persistence of human wrongdoing, as expressed in particular instances. Reconciliation may well be essential to some attempts at “political apology” for wide-scale wrongdoing. But then, contrary to some of Griswold’s claims, forgiveness will be central to many national projects of bringing about civic reconciliation. The paper also distinguishes between the project of seeking moral reconciliation from the project of seeking and granting political recognition for those who have been denied civic status. Contrary to Griswold’s view, the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial is best understood as a project of seeking and granting recognition, not as an attempt to produce civic reconciliation in response to the Vietnam War
Keywords Forgiveness  Unilateral forgiveness  Reconciliation  Political apology, recognition  Vietnam Veterans War Memorial  Vietnam War
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