Forgiveness and Political Reconciliation for Transitional Democracies

Dissertation, State University of New York at Binghamton (2003)
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In this dissertation I defend the idea that what we are as moral and as political beings is in part a product of the social and political environment in which we grow up. The political community plays an important role in the way we develop our moral character and political agency; therefore, one cannot understand or explain the moral character of an individual without the social and political context where this character is developed. I argue that if we live in democratic inclusive political communities, people are well equipped to mutually respect themselves and others as equal moral beings and citizens. In oppressive regimes people can develop defective ways to treat themselves and others personally and politically. My aim with this dissertation is to discuss two important and complex notions: forgiveness and political reconciliation. Both terms constantly appear in the theoretical works about, as well as in case studies of peace processes and transitional democracies. I claim that forgiveness and political reconciliation are two restorative actions to deal with the past and to break the traumatic memory caused by individual or political offenses. Political reconciliation differs from forgiveness because the former is a collective practice and policy while the latter is a personal act and virtue. I argue that in a democratic inclusive regime, forgiveness and political reconciliation must respond to the equal worth of human beings. These restorative measures can be exercised in context where the moral and political dignity of human beings can be ensured. Forgiveness and political reconciliation share the necessity to evaluate the past, whether this reflection implies personal wrongdoings or the unjust history of the political community. This evaluation of the past guarantees: first, the moral or political recognition of the offense; second, the possibility to restore and honor the dignity of victims; and finally, processes of personal and political transformation



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Camila De Gamboa
Universidad Del Rosario

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