In Defense of Third-Party Forgiveness

In Kathryn J. Norlock (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Forgiveness. pp. 135-160 (2017)

Abstract

In this paper, I take issue with the widespread philosophical consensus that only victims of wrongdoing are in a position to forgive it. I offer both a defense and a philosophical account of third-party forgiveness. I argue that when we deny this possibility, we misconstrue the complex, relational nature of wrongdoing and its harms. We also risk over-moralizing the victim's position and overlooking the roles played by secondary participants. I develop an account of third-party forgiveness that both demonstrates how successful, morally legitimate, acts of third-party forgiveness are possible and simultaneously highlights the particular moral risks that would-be third-party forgivers face. I conclude insofar as they are appropriately grounded and cautiously bestowed, at least some acts of third-party forgiveness contribute significantly to post-conflict repair.

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Author's Profile

Alice MacLachlan
York University

References found in this work

Articulating an Uncompromising Forgiveness.Pamela Hieronymi - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (3):529-555.
Empathy, Sympathy, Care.Stephen L. Darwall - 1998 - Philosophical Studies 89 (2-3):261–282.
The Standing to Forgive.Glen Pettigrove - 2009 - The Monist 92 (4):583-603.
Unreasonable Resentments.Alice MacLachlan - 2010 - Journal of Social Philosophy 41 (4):422-441.

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Citations of this work

Third Parties and the Social Scaffolding of Forgiveness.Margaret Urban Walker - 2013 - Journal of Religious Ethics 41 (3):495-512.
Forgiveness and Moral Repair.Kathryn J. Norlock - 2022 - In Manuel Vargas & John M. Doris (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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