Philosophia 44 (4):1029-1055 (2016)

Authors
Paula Satne
University of Wolverhampton
Abstract
Forgiveness is clearly an important aspect of our moral lives, yet surprisingly Kant, one of the most important authors in the history of Western ethics, seems to have very little to say about it. Some authors explain this omission by noting that forgiveness sits uncomfortably in Kant’s moral thought: forgiveness seems to have an ineluctably ‘elective’ aspect which makes it to a certain extent arbitrary; thus it stands in tension with Kant’s claim that agents are autonomous beings, capable of determining their own moral status through rational reflection and choice. Other authors recognise that forgiveness plays a role in Kant’s philosophy but fail to appreciate the nature of this duty and misrepresent the Kantian argument in support of it. This paper argues that there is space in Kant’s philosophy for a genuine theory of forgiveness and hopes to lay the grounds for a correct interpretation of this theory. I argue that from a Kantian perspective, forgiveness is not ‘elective’ but, at least in some cases, morally required. I claim that, for Kant, we have an imperfect duty of virtue to forgive repentant wrongdoers that have embarked on a project of self-reflection and self-reform. I develop a novel argument in support of this duty by drawing on Kant’s theory of rational agency, the thesis of radical evil, Kant’s theory of moral development, and the formula of humanity. However, it must be noted that this is a conditional duty and Kant’s position also entails that absence of repentance on the part of the wrongdoer should be taken as evidence of a lack of commitment to a project of self-reflection and self-reform. In such cases, Kant claims, we have a perfect duty to ourselves not to forgive unrepentant wrongdoers. I argue that this duty should be understood as one of the duties of self-esteem, which involves the duty to respect and recognise our own dignity as rational beings.
Keywords Forgiveness  Moral development  Imperfect and perfect duties  Self-reform  Humanity  Self-respect
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2016
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s11406-016-9727-6
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 57,109
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The Sources of Normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
Creating the Kingdom of Ends.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 78 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Introduction: Forgiveness and Conflict.Paula Satne - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (4):999-1006.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

For Community's Sake: A (Self-Respecting) Kantian Account of Forgiveness.Kate A. Moran - forthcoming - Proceedings of the XI International Kant-Kongress.
Supererogatory Forgiveness.Espen Gamlund - 2010 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 53 (6):540-564.
Forgiveness, Resentment, and Self-Respect.Shelby Therese Weitzel - 2002 - Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kant on the Perfection of Others.Lara Denis - 1999 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 37 (1):25-41.
The Duty to Forgive Repentant Wrongdoers.Espen Gamlund - 2010 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (5):651-671.
Forgiveness: Moral Prerogative or Religious Duty?Paul Lauritzen - 1987 - Journal of Religious Ethics 15 (2):141-154.
Forgiveness, Resentment, and Intentional Agency.Anthony Marc Williams - 2011 - Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 19 (1):1-12.
Kantian Forgiveness.David Sussman - 2005 - Kant-Studien 96 (1):85-107.
On Radical Forgiveness, Duty, and Justice.Sanjay Lal - 2015 - Heythrop Journal 56 (4):677-684.
Middle Theory, Inner Freedom, and Moral Health.Donald Wilson - 2007 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 24 (4):393 - 413.
A Feminist Ethic of Forgiveness.Kathryn J. Norlock - 2001 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
On Taking Back Forgiveness.Geoffrey Scarre - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (4):931-944.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2016-07-06

Total views
45 ( #223,540 of 2,411,476 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #538,999 of 2,411,476 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes