David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Theoria 71 (1):59-77 (2005)
A number of philosophers have suggested that acts of forgiveness are pointless if the wrongdoer has atoned for his offence (since there is nothing to be forgiven) and unjustified if no atonement has been forthcoming (since there are no grounds for forgiveness). My aim in this paper is twofold. First, I try to remove this dilemma and show that forgiveness has a proper place in ethics by providing an account of its nature and justification. Second, I argue that the dilemma is apt to emerge from an exclusively utilitarian outlook or an exclusively retributivist outlook, and that it is only by adopting a ’mixed approach’ towards the treatment of wrongdoers that it can be removed
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