Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (2):299-315 (1998)
|Abstract||The aim of this paper is to explain what is involved in the exercise of the Judaeo-Christian virtue of forgiveness, and in so doing to lay bare the structure of human (rather than Divine) forgiveness. It argues that it is not possible, through some act of will, to forgive a person for the wrongs that have been done to one, but shows nonetheless that forgiving is a task and that the disposition to undertake this task in the appropriate circumstances may properly be regarded as a virtue. However, to be too willing to undertake this task, or to undertake it in inappropriate circumstances, is a vice since it is indicative of diminished self-respect. Success in the task of forgiving falls beyond our full rational control and depends very largely on a capacity to empathise and to feel an appropriate degree of compassion. Whether or not we are able to do so and sustain this itself depends on certain social contingencies|
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