Authors
Jason W. Carter
Oxford University
Abstract
In recent decades, it has been argued that the modern concept of forgiveness is absent from Aristotle’s conception of συγγνώμη as it appears in his Rhetoric and Nicomachean Ethics. In this paper, I argue that Aristotle’s view is more modern than it might appear. I defend the idea that Aristotle’s treatment of συγγνώμη, when seen in conjunction with his theory of ethical decision, involuntary action, and character alteration, commits him to a cognitive and emotional theory of forgiveness that is both well-grounded and thoroughly modern. I go on to claim that Aristotle’s view of συγγνώμη helps to solve at least four controversial problems about the nature of forgiveness raised by modern philosophers: how one can forgive a wrong without condoning it, whether forgiveness is a duty, whether moral luck requires us to forgive more widely, and whether forgiveness ought to be unconditional.
Keywords Aristotle  forgiveness  virtue  vice  involuntary action  practical syllogism
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ISBN(s) 1051-3558
DOI 10.5840/acpq20171127134
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