Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Transitional Justice Practices

Ethical Perspectives 15 (3):381-398 (2008)

Authors
Neelke Doorn
Delft University of Technology
Abstract
In the last decades, the notions of forgiveness and reconciliation have been applied more and more in the public sphere. This paper claims that forgiveness in transitional justice practices is often difficult if not impossible to achieve, and that it could generate counterproductive processes. It is unclear what ‘collective forgiveness’ is, if it is a realistic concept at all. The expectation of forgiveness seems to generate much resistance, even when former oppressors take up responsibility or show regret. Often past-sensibilities are too strong, and in many victim-groups self-respect is lacking. Moreover, the role of emotions in public settings remains obscure. These complexities raise the question of whether forgiveness is an appropriate ideal to aim at in transitional justice practices, especially when participants are involved in attempts at reconciliation in more or less coercive ways. To give up the ideal of forgiveness, however, does not imply that reconciliation is unattainable. Alternative accounts of reconciliation are presented which do not start from forgiveness. These alternative accounts show that reconciliation is possible, but it seems important for former victims to regain some sense of self-worth and recognition by others first. Only then people can enter into the long process of rebuilding relationships of trust with former wrongdoers
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DOI 10.2143/EP.15.3.2033157
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References found in this work BETA

Memory, History, Forgetting.Paul Ricoeur - 2004 - University of Chicago Press.
The Promise and Pitfalls of Apology.Trudy Govier & Wilhelm Verwoerd - 2002 - Journal of Social Philosophy 33 (1):67–82.
Forgivingness.Robert C. Roberts - 1995 - American Philosophical Quarterly 32 (4):289 - 306.
Forgiveness and the Intrinsic Value of Persons.Margaret R. Holmgren - 1993 - American Philosophical Quarterly 30 (4):341 - 352.

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