There seems to be confusion and disagreement among scholars about the meaning of interpersonal forgiveness. In this essay we shall venture to clarify the meaning of forgiveness by examining various literary works. In particular, we shall discuss instances of forgiveness from Homer’s The Iliad, Euripides’ Hippolytus, and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and we shall focus on the changes that the concept of forgiveness has gone through throughout the centuries, in the hope of being able to understand, and (...) therefore, of being able to use more accurately, contemporary notions of forgiveness. We shall also explore the relationship between forgiveness and concepts that are closely associated with it, such as anger/resentment, hurt, clemency, desert/merit, excuse, etc. (shrink)
The question of forgiveness in politics has attained a certain cachet. Indeed, in the fifty years since Arendt commented on the notable absence of forgiveness in the political tradition, a vast and multidisciplinary literature on the politics of apology, reparation, and reconciliation has emerged. To a novice scouring the relevant literatures, it might appear that the only discordant note in this new veritable symphony of writings on political forgiveness has been sounded by philosophers. There is a more-than-healthy (...) cynicism directed at what many philosophers see as an uncritical promotion of forgiveness, which – they fear – risks distorting and cheapening forgiveness as a moral ideal, on the one hand, and ignoring the moral and political values of justice, accountability and the cessation of harmful relationships, on the other. Are philosophical fears about the dangers of thinking about forgiveness in political terms warranted – or do they perhaps depend in part on conceptual conservatism regarding what exactly political forgiveness might be? I argue that most, if not all, standard objections to political forgiveness emerge from theoretical reliance on a picture of forgiveness I will call the Emotional Model. Once we make conceptual space for descriptions of forgiveness in performative and social terms, the concept is more easily adapted to a political account without at least some of the risks feared by philosophers. (shrink)
While most scholars focus on the advantages of forgiveness, the negative effects of hasty forgiveness have been largely neglected in the literature. In this essay I shall argue that in certain contexts granting forgiveness to a wrongdoer could be morally questionable, and sometimes it could even be morally wrong. Following Aristotle’s view of emotion, and, in particular, his notion of virtuous anger, I shall claim that appropriate, righteous anger is instrumental for justice, and, as a result, inappropriate, (...) or imprudent forgiveness could be an impediment to justice, or even a license for the continuation of injustice. (shrink)
The categorical denial of third-party forgiveness represents an overly individualistic approach to moral repair. Such an approach fails to acknowledge the important roles played by witnesses, bystanders, beneficiaries, and others who stand in solidarity to the primary victim and perpetrator. In this paper, I argue that the prerogative to forgive or withhold forgiveness is not universal, but neither is it restricted to victims alone. Not only can we make moral sense of some third-party acts and utterances of the (...) form, “I can or cannot forgive…” but also, we ought to recognize them as legitimate instances of third party forgiveness. Concern for the primary victim’s autonomy tends to exaggerate a need for moral deference, while ignoring how others are called upon to support and mediate for victims of violence and oppression. I advocate a cautious extension of the victim’s prerogative to forgive, one that grounds forgiveness in a double relation of sympathetic identification and attentive care. Following Jean Harvey’s recent work, I call this relationship moral solidarity. Furthermore, I argue, there are important moral and political reasons to acknowledge third party forgiveness; these reasons are particularly evident in contexts of oppression. In fact, third party refusals to forgive may have particular moral significance. In situations of abuse, oppression and damaged self-respect, third party refusals may protect the agency of victims who too easily forgive. (shrink)
A study of the ways Maimonides and Aquinas both borrow from Aristotle and depart from him, in regard to the issue of forgiveness. The paper explicates moral-psychological issues and normative issues, connecting them to the perfectionism of the philosophical anthropology shared by the three thinkers. The theistic commitments of Maimonides and Aquinas ground important departures from Aristotle regarding the possibility of moral change and regarding moral relations between persons.
According to standard philosophical analyses, only victims can forgive. There are good reasons to reject this view. After all, people who are neither direct nor indirect victims of a wrong frequently feel moral anger over injustice. The choice to foreswear or overcome such moral anger is subject to most of the same sorts of considerations as victims’ choices to forgive. Furthermore, bystanders’ reactions to their experiences of moral anger often reflect either virtues or vices that are of a piece with (...) what we normally describe as a forgiving or unforgiving disposition. In this paper, I reject the view that only victims can forgive by comparing the experience and regulation of moral anger by victims and bystanders. The virtues of victims and bystanders with regard to moral anger are so similar that there is no good reason to apply different labels. However, the recognition of forgiveness in bystanders offers us more than simple consistency. It also leads us to think about the role moral bystanders play in the maintenance of the moral community, as well as the ways in which this role can be abused or overstepped. (shrink)
Philosophers writing on forgiveness typically defend the Resentment Theory of Forgiveness, the view that forgiveness is the overcoming of resentment. Rarely is much more said about the nature of resentment or how it is overcome when one forgives. Pamela Hieronymi, however, has advanced detailed accounts both of the nature of resentment and how one overcomes resentment when one forgives. In this paper, I argue that Hieronymi’s account of the nature of forgiveness is committed to two implausible (...) claims about the norms bearing on forgiveness. Her account is highly instructive, however, for it brings into relief how certain intuitive views about the norms of forgiveness should be used to constrain our theories about its nature. I conclude by defending this methodological proposal. (shrink)
It is sometimes claimed that forgiveness involves the cancellation of a moral debt. This way of speaking about forgiveness exploits an analogy between moral forgiveness and economic debt-cancellation. Call the view that moral forgiveness is like economic debt-cancellation the Economic Model of Forgiveness. In this article I articulate and motivate the model, defend it against some recent objections, and pose a new puzzle for this way of thinking about forgiveness.
It is sometimes thought that the normative justification for responding to large-scale violations of human rights via the judicial appararatus of trial and punishment is undermined by the desirability of reconciliation between conflicting parties as part of the process of conflict resolution. I take there to be philosophical, as well as practical and psychological issues involved here: on some conceptions of punishment and reconciliation, the attitudes that they involve conflict with one another on rational grounds. But I shall argue that (...) there is a conception of political reconciliation available which does not involve forgiveness and this forms of reconciliation may be the best we can hope for in many conflicts. Reconciliation is nevertheless likely to require the expression of what Darrell Moellendorf has called 'political regret' and the denunciatory role aspect of punishment makes it particularly well-suited to this role. (shrink)
Philosophers often claim that forgiveness is a paradoxical phenomenon. I here examine two of the most widespread ways of dealing with the paradoxical nature of forgiveness. One of these ways, emblematized by Aurel Kolnai, seeks to resolve the paradox by appealing to the idea of repentance. Somehow, if a wrongdoer repents, then forgiving her is no longer paradoxical. I argue that this influential position faces more problems than it solves. The other way to approach the paradox, exemplified here (...) by the work of Jacques Derrida, is just too obscure to be by itself helpful. Yet, I argue that what I take to be its spirit is on the right track. I recommend distinguishing between the definition and the justification of forgiveness, and also between forgiveness understood as a mental phenomenon and an overt, communicative act. These distinctions are not given their due in the specialized literature, and I expose the nefarious consequences of this neglect. By focusing on forgiveness as a mental phenomenon I seek to analyze the root of the talk of paradoxes which surrounds the discussion of forgiveness. Finally, I present an analysis of forgiveness as a pure mental phenomenon, and argue that this analysis is the most important step in understanding forgiveness in any other sense. While my analysis reveals interesting aspects of forgiveness, it reveals, too, that forgiveness is not quite as paradoxical after all. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that we can learn much about wild justice and the evolutionary origins of social morality – behaving fairly – by studying social play behavior in group-living animals, and that interdisciplinary cooperation will help immensely. In our efforts to learn more about the evolution of morality we need to broaden our comparative research to include animals other than non-human primates. If one is a good Darwinian, it is premature to claim that only humans can be empathic (...) and moral beings. By asking the question What is it like to be another animal? we can discover rules of engagement that guide animals in their social encounters. When I study dogs, for example, I try to be a dogocentrist and practice dogomorphism. My major arguments center on the following big questions: Can animals be moral beings or do they merely act as if they are? What are the evolutionary roots of cooperation, fairness, trust, forgiveness, and morality? What do animals do when they engage in social play? How do animals negotiate agreements to cooperate, to forgive, to behave fairly, to develop trust? Can animals forgive? Why cooperate and play fairly? Why did play evolve as it has? Does being fair mean being more fit – do individual variations in play influence an individual''s reproductive fitness, are more virtuous individuals more fit than less virtuous individuals? What is the taxonomic distribution of cognitive skills and emotional capacities necessary for individuals to be able to behave fairly, to empathize, to behave morally? Can we use information about moral behavior in animals to help us understand ourselves? I conclude that there is strong selection for cooperative fair play in which individuals establish and maintain a social contract to play because there are mutual benefits when individuals adopt this strategy and group stability may be also be fostered. Numerous mechanisms have evolved to facilitate the initiation and maintenance of social play to keep others engaged, so that agreeing to play fairly and the resulting benefits of doing so can be readily achieved. I also claim that the ability to make accurate predictions about what an individual is likely to do in a given social situation is a useful litmus test for explaining what might be happening in an individual''s brain during social encounters, and that intentional or representational explanations are often important for making these predictions. (shrink)
What does it mean to forgive? The answer is widely assumed to be self-evident but critical analysis quickly reveals the complexities of the subject. Forgiveness has traditionally been the preserve of Christian theology, though in the last half century - and at an accelerating pace - psychologists, lawyers, politicians and moral philosophers have all been making an important contribution to questions about and our understanding of the subject. Anthony Bash offers a vigorous restatement of the Christian view of (...) class='Hi'>forgiveness in critical dialogue with those both within and without the Christian tradition. Forgiveness is a much more complicated subject than many theologians recognize. Bash explores the relevance of the theoretical discussion of the topic to recent events such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, post-Holocaust trials, the aftermath of 9/11 and July 7 and various high-profile criminal cases. (shrink)
Our century has witnessed violence on an unprecedented scale, in wars that have torn deep into the fabric of national and international life. And as we can see in the recent strife in Bosnia, genocide in Rwanda, and the ongoing struggle to control nuclear weaponry, ancient enmities continue to threaten the lives of masses of human beings. As never before, the question is urgent and practical: How can nations--or ethnic groups, or races--after long, bitter struggles, learn to live side by (...) side in peace? In An Ethic for Enemies, Donald W. Shriver, Jr., President Emeritus of Union Theological Seminary, argues that the solution lies in our capacity to forgive. Taking forgiveness out of its traditional exclusive association with personal religion and morality, Shriver urges us to recognize its importance in the secular political arena. The heart of the book examines three powerful and moving cases from recent American history--our postwar dealings with Germany, with Japan, and our continuing domestic problem with race relations--cases in which acts of forgiveness have had important political consequences. Shriver traces how postwar Germany, in its struggle to break with its political past, progressed from denial of a Nazi past, to a formal acknowledgement of the crimes of Nazi Germany, to providing material compensation for survivors of the Holocaust. He also examines the efforts of Japan and the United States, over time and across boundaries of race and culture, to forgive the wrongs committed by both peoples during the Pacific War. And finally he offers a fascinating discussion of the role of forgiveness in the American civil rights movement. He shows, for instance, that even Malcolm X recognized the need to move from contempt for the integrationist ideal to a more conciliatory, repentant stance toward Civil Rights leaders. Malcolm came to see that only through forgiveness could the separate voices of the African-American movement work together to achieve their goals. If mutual forgiveness was a radical thought in 1964, Shriver reminds us that it has yet to be realized in 1994. "We are a long way from ceasing to hold the sins of the ancestors against their living children," he writes. Yet in this poignant volume, we discover how, by forgiving, enemies can progress and have progressed toward peace. A timely antidote to today's political conflicts, An Ethic for Enemies challenges to us to confront the hatreds that cripple society and threaten to destroy the global village. (shrink)
Forgiveness is typically regarded as a good thing - even a virtue - but acts of forgiveness can vary widely in value, depending on their context and motivation. Faced with this variation, philosophers have tended to reinforce everyday concepts of forgiveness with strict sets of conditions, creating ideals or paradigms of forgiveness. These are meant to distinguish good or praiseworthy instances of forgiveness from problematic instances and, in particular, to protect the self-respect of would-be forgivers. (...) But paradigmatic forgiveness is problematic for a number of reasons, including its inattention to forgiveness as a gendered trait. We can account for the values and the risks associated with forgiving far better if we treat it as a moral practice and not an ideal. (shrink)
ABSTRACTP.F. Strawson claimed that forgiveness is such an essential part of our moral practices that we could not extricate it from our form of life even if we so desired. But what is it about forgiveness that would make it such a central feature of our moral experience? In this paper, I suggest that the answer has to do with what I will call the normative significance of forgiveness. Forgiveness is normatively significant in the sense that, (...) in its paradigmatic instances, forgiving alters the operative norms bearing on the interaction between the victim and the wrongdoer in certain characteristic ways. My project here is, first, to clarify the ways that paradigmatic cases of forgiveness alter the norms of interaction between victim and wrongdoer and to argue that it is in this respect that forgiveness is a normatively significant feature of our moral responsibility practices. Second, I show that most extant theories of forgiveness fail to explain the characteristic ways in which forgiving alters norms. Th... (shrink)
The idea of self-forgiveness poses a serious challenge to any philosopher interested in giving a general account of forgiveness. On the one hand, it is an uncontroversial part of our common psychological and moral discourse. On the other, any account of self-forgiveness is inconsistent with any general account of forgiveness which implies that only the victim of an offense can forgive. To avoid this conclusion, one must either challenge the particular claims that preclude self-forgiveness or (...) offer an independently plausible account of self-forgiveness. I deploy both strategies in this article, explaining what self-forgiveness is and how it is possible. (shrink)
One account of forgiveness claims that to forgive is to forbear punishment. Call this the Punishment-Forbearance Account of forgiveness. In this paper I argue that forbearing punishment is neither necessary nor sufficient for forgiveness.
Forgiveness and reconciliation have been shown to be beneficial alternatives to revenge as responses to an interpersonal offense in the workplace. Prior research on these topics, however, is often narrow in scope, focusing on only the victim. Moreover, existing research is often unclear about the relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation. In response, this article proposes a conceptual framework of forgiveness, reconciliation, and their respective antecedents which is both multi-level and interdisciplinary. This framework is used to review the (...) nascent management-related research on forgiveness and reconciliation, and to augment this research from other fields, especially social psychology. Future research directions and managerial implications are proposed based on the multi-level model and research from other fields. (shrink)
In this paper we explore the relationship between forgiving and punishment. We set out a number of arguments for the claim that if one forgives a wrongdoer, one should not punish her. We then argue that none of these arguments is persuasive. We conclude by reflecting on the possibility of institutional forgiveness in the criminal justice setting and on the differences between forgiveness and acts of mercy.
In this monograph, I offer feminist reasons to develop a multidimensional account of forgiveness as a moral, and therefore at least partially deliberative, action or set of actions, which functions as a remedy in responding to blame or condemnation, releasing offenders from the fullness of their blameworthiness, in relational contexts which therefore require considerations of power between relata. I rely on feminist philosophical account of the relational self in order to contextualise these power relations. I provide accounts of (...) class='Hi'>forgiveness as a performative utterance, third-party forgiveness, and self-forgiveness based upon this feminist and multidimensional model of forgiveness. (shrink)
The paper responds to those who argue that it is morally objectionable to forgive the unapologetic. I argue that it is both possible and permissible to forgive the unapologetic. Along the way the analysis sheds light on the relationship between forgiveness and trust, condonation, self-respect, punishment, justice and apology.
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction and overview; 2. The nature of forgiveness and resentment; 3. The moral analysis of the attitudes of forgiveness and resentment defined; 4. The moral analysis of the attitudes of self-forgiveness and self-condemnation; 5. Philosophical underpinnings of the basic attitudes: forgiveness, resentment, and the nature of persons; 6. Moral theory: justice and desert; 7. The public response to wrongdoing; 8. Restorative justice: the public response to wrongdoing and the process of addressing (...) the wrong. (shrink)
In a world that has become increasingly dependent upon employee ownership, commitment, and initiative, organizations need leaders who can inspire their␣employees and motivate them individually. Love, forgiveness, and trust are critical values of today’s organization leaders who are committed to maximizing value for organizations while helping organization members to become their best. We explain the importance of love, forgiveness, and trust in the modern organization and identify 10 commonalities of these virtues.
The concept of respect for persons is often rejected as a basis for understanding forgiveness. As many have argued, to hold your offender responsible for her actions is to respect her as a person; but this kind of respect is more likely to sustain, rather than dissolve, your resentment toward her (Garrard & McNaughton 2003; 2011; Allais 2008). I seek to defend an alternative view in this paper. To forgive, on my account, involves ceasing to identify your offender with (...) her wrongdoing, and this requires a corresponding affective change on your behalf. While there are different ways this may happen, I argue that respect for your offender as a person can play a significant role in the process. (shrink)
Philosophers discussing forgiveness have usually been split between those who think that forgiveness is typically virtuous, even when the wrongdoer doesn’t repent, and those who think that, for forgiveness to be virtuous, certain pre-conditions must be satisfied. I argue that Darwall’s second-personal account of morality offers significant theoretical support for the latter view. I argue that if, as Darwall claims, reactive attitudes issue a demand, this demand needs to be adequately answered for forgiveness to be warranted. (...) It follows that we should reject the thesis that unconditional forgiveness is appropriate in the absence of repentance. (shrink)
The “paradox of forgiveness” can be described as follows: Forgiving, unlike forgetting, is tied to reasons. It is a response to considerations that lead us to think that we ought to forgive. On the other hand, acts of forgiveness, unlike excuses, are responses to instances of culpable wrongdoing. If, however, the wrongdoing is culpable, there is (or seems to be) no reason to forgive it. So two mutually exclusive theses about forgiveness both seem to be equally warranted: (...)Forgiveness is related to reasons, but there can be no reasons for forgiveness. In this paper, I attempt to dissolve this paradox. I argue that the paradox arises as a result of a too narrow conception of “reason” and that it can be dissolved if we acknowledge different kinds of reasons for forgiveness. More specifically, I examine three kinds of reasons for forgiving an act of wrongdoing: (1) Moral reasons that make forgiveness morally mandatory. (2) Prudential reasons for forgiveness. (3) Moral reasons that pertain to the character of the forgiver and that favor forgiveness without making it morally mandatory. I show that while the paradox of forgiveness arises when we consider reasons of the first kind, it can be dissolved with recourse to reasons of the second and third kind. The upshot of the argument is that we can be rational in deciding to overcome our feelings of resentment towards an act of unjustified and unexcused wrongdoing—and this is a strong point in favor of forgiveness. (shrink)
Government refusals to apologise for past wrongful practices such as slavery or the removal of indigenous children from their parents seem evidently unjust. It is surprising, then, that some ethical considerations appear to support such stances. Jacques Derrida's account of forgiveness as entirely independent of apology appears to preclude the need for official apologies. I contend that governments are obligated to apologize for past injustices because they are responsible for them and that official apologies should not involve a corresponding (...) expectation for forgiveness. My argument is that an apology and forgiveness are asymmetrical because an apology is based on respect, a perfect duty, and can be a public act, whereas forgiveness is based on love, is an imperfect duty, and is a personal undertaking. It follows from this asymmetry that an apology is a prerequisite for reconciliation, but forgiveness is discretionary. Refusals to apologize tend to impede the reconciliation process and make the possibility of forgiveness remote. The concept of reconciliation has also been criticized on the grounds that reconciliation implies a former harmony that should be restored and fault on both sides. However, I argue it should be understood as a willingness to work together without a presumption of having overcome the past. (shrink)
When a wrongdoing occurs, victims, barring special circumstance, can aptly forgive their wrongdoers, receive apologies, and be paid reparations. It is also uncontroversial, in the usual circumstances, that wronged parties can aptly blame their wrongdoer. But controversy arises when we consider blame from third-parties after the victim has forgiven. At times it seems that wronged parties can make blame inapt through forgiveness. If third parties blame anyway, it often appears the victim is justified in protesting. “But I forgave him!” (...) In other cases, however, forgiveness seems irrelevant: B can forgive A, but it can still seem that third parties can aptly blame A for the wrong against B. This perplexity adds a dimension to ongoing discussion regarding criteria for apt blame and the related issues of standing and fittingness. This paper explores the status of third party blame after forgiveness. I argue that while post forgiveness blame is often inapt, in many other cases forgiveness is irrelevant. This difference is explained by appeal to the various relationships third parties might have to wronged parties, and how these differences affect the ways we blame and thereby blame’s aptness. (shrink)
This paper considers whether we have any reason to forgive the perpetrators of the most terrible atrocities, such as the Holocaust. On the face of it, we do not have reason to forgive in such cases. But on examination, the principal arguments against forgiveness do not turn out to be persuasive. Two considerations in favour of forgiveness are canvassed: the presence of rational agency in the perpetrators, and the common human nature which they share with us. It is (...) argued that the presence of rational agency does not generate a reason to forgive. However, our common human nature may be sufficient to provide such a reason, and evidence for its general reason-giving power can be seen in phenomena such as vicarious shame, and the moral significance which we attach to the notion of crimes against humanity. A reason for forgiveness based on common human nature will not be a strong one, but a weak reason still has some force. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that Christianity enjoins its followers to practice universal, unconditional forgiveness. But universal, unconditional forgiveness is regarded by many as morally problematic. Some Christian scholars have denied that Christianity in fact requires universal, unconditional forgiveness, but I believe they are mistaken. In this essay, I show two things: that Christianity does enjoin universal, unconditional forgiveness of a certain sort, and that Christians, and perhaps other theists, are always justified in exercising unconditional forgiveness. (...) Though most philosophers treat forgiveness as grounded in our beliefs about the offender's current state, I argue that we might more fruitfully ground forgiveness in hope for the wrongdoer. Christianity's commitment to the existence of an omnipotent God who is concerned about the moral status of His creatures always justifies such hope and thus always justifies forgiveness. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to reconstruct a Christian theology of “hospitality” through a critical reading of Jacques Derrida and Friedrich Nietzsche as well as through an in-depth biblical and theological reflection on the ethics of hospitality. Out of this reconstructive investigation, I propose a new Christian ethics of hospitality as a radical kind. As a new paradigm, this radical hospitality is distinguished from other types in that it is no longer conceived on the model of “gift”. The new (...) Christian ethics of hospitality is rather reconstructed on the model of “forgiveness” by critically appropriating the concept of “invisible debt” that lies between the hosting citizens and the migrants in the senses of “you owe us your presence” and “I owe you my security and success.” While the hospitality of the gift defines the relationship between the hosting citizens and the migrants as givers and givees, the new paradigm of hospitality identifies this relationship as between creditors and debtors. In this regard, a new Christian hospitality called for unto citizens of the hosting society is a radical kind that challenges them to transcend the creditor-debtor consciousness. (shrink)
In this essay I offer a detailed reply to three critics (whose commentaries are included in this issue of Philosophia) of my Forgiveness: a Philosophical Exploration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). The topics explored include the nature and limits of forgiveness; its unconditional or conditional character; the problem of distinguishing between central and marginal cases; the analysis of political apology; and questions of philosophical methodology.
This paper provides an account of reparations in general and then presents briefly one explanation of why many present day African Americans believe they are entitled to reparations from the U.S. Government.This explanation should not be seen as a final justification, but only as an indication why the demand for reparations for AfricanAmericans might be seen a plausible. Next, if it is reasonable to assume that reparations to African Americans are plausible, I then go onto explain why reparations might be (...) necessary to fill the breech that is perceived to exist between many African Americans and their government. This explanation will involve an examination of the relationship between three concepts: forgiveness, reconciliation, and reparations. Then I explore why an apology or reparations for slavery and Jim Crow might be necessary for reconciliation between many African Americans and their government. Finally, I examine the contention that the legislative process can be used to obtain an apology or reparations from the government. (shrink)
This paper replies to the account of forgiveness developed in Griswold’s Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration. It defends the idea that “unilateral” forgiveness is the paradigm case of the virtue of forgiveness, rejecting Griswold’s claims that forgiveness is essentially a “dyadic” virtue, and that reconciliation of the wronged party with the wrongdoer is a defining element of forgiveness. Forgiveness is fundamentally a matter of being reconciled to the persistence of human wrongdoing, as expressed in (...) particular instances. Reconciliation may well be essential to some attempts at “political apology” for wide-scale wrongdoing. But then, contrary to some of Griswold’s claims, forgiveness will be central to many national projects of bringing about civic reconciliation. The paper also distinguishes between the project of seeking moral reconciliation from the project of seeking and granting political recognition for those who have been denied civic status. Contrary to Griswold’s view, the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial is best understood as a project of seeking and granting recognition, not as an attempt to produce civic reconciliation in response to the Vietnam War. (shrink)
This work aims to identify the constituents of forgiveness in terms of the forgiver's beliefs and motivating goals. After addressing the antecedents of forgiveness—a perceived wrong—and distinguishing the notion of mere harm from that of offense, we describe the victim's typical retributive reactions—revenge and resentment—and discuss their advantages and disadvantages. Then we focus on the forgiver's mind-set, pointing to the relationship between forgiveness and acceptance of the wrong, addressing the forgiver's motivating goals, and discussing both their self-interested (...) and altruistic implications. In so doing we also discuss the role of the forgiver's positive feelings towards the offender, arguing that, however important, they are unnecessary to forgiveness. We finally identify two kinds of forgiveness—conditional and unconditional—suggesting that they are grounded on different notions of “worth.”. (shrink)
I discuss Charles Griswold’s Forgiveness, arguing that he classifies as marginal many cases that we normally count as forgiveness. Moreover the phenomenon that he calls “forgiveness at its best” may include some awful aspects of human nature. Nevertheless, there are central and important aspects of the concept that are captured by his discussion.
Charles Griswold’s seminal work, Forgiveness, is the focus of the present essay. Following Griswold, I distinguish the relevant virtue of character from something that is more like an act or process. The paper discusses a number of hesitations I have about Griswold’s analysis, at the level both of detail and of underlying conception.
Consider that forgiveness is always given ahead of time. Set within a moral context, this claim is apt to sound suspect, as it seems to invite transgression and all manner of immoral indulgence. When the context shifts to one of religious possibility, however, the claim can be read to entertain a redemptive anachronism: a memory of future innocence. The author examines forgiveness in both contexts and makes a case for the religious possibility.
In recent years there has been widespread interest in assimilating forgiveness into a rational conception of the moral life. This project usually construes forgiveness as a way of “moving past” evil and resuming the moral narrative it disrupted. But to develop a philosophical sound conception of forgiveness, we must recognize that moral evil is world-shattering and cannot be assimilated into the moral narrative of our lives. It is not an event that happens in one’s world but to (...) one’s world. In this respect it is similar to death as Heidegger has described it. But, contrary to what Heidegger implies, evil is more traumatic than death because, unlike the latter, it shatters moral reasoning and moral narrative. Evil is a monstrosity; it traumatizes historical existence by impossibilizing the future. A philosophical account of forgiveness must therefore be traumatological: recognizing the traumatizing impact that evil has on historicity, it has provide us a heuristic that will help us to imagine the unimaginable possibility of transforming historical horror into good. (shrink)
The English Puritan Richard Baxter (1615-1691) developed an account of forgiveness that resonates with twentieth-century virtue ethics. He understood forgiveness as one component of a larger disposition of character developed in community as human beings recognize themselves as sinful creatures engaged in complex relationships of dependency and responsibility, with both God and one another. In the midst of these relationships, persons experience divine and human forgiveness and discover opportunities to practice forgiveness in return. Baxter thus negotiated (...) a distinctive relationship between Christian hope for reconciliation and more stereotypical Puritan emphases on punishment, civil order, and justice. At the same time that recent moral reflection allows us to raise questions about some features of Baxter's argument (such as his treatment of anger), his work provides important resources for correlating dispositions with concrete obligations, establishing a place for forgiveness in the public realm, and counterbalancing the modern emphasis on individual rights. (shrink)
In this paper I critically discuss what has come to be known as the consensus or standard view of interpersonal forgiveness noting some of the paradoxes it appears to generate, how its conceptual resources seem unable to help illuminate several other varieties of forgiveness that are either themselves instances of interpersonal forgiving or at least types of forgiveness that a theory of interpersonal forgiveness should be able to shed some light upon. In the final section I (...) offer some remarks on the nature of revenge, which has recently come to be seen by some philosophers as a morally acceptable alternative to forgiving wrongdoers, note some of the puzzles to which it gives rise, and conclude that while both types of responses to wrongdoers remain morally complex, there is good reason to think that forgiveness is the morally more appropriate response to having been wronged. (shrink)
Abstract: Forgiveness of wrongdoing in response to public apology and amends making seems, on the face of it, to leave little room for the continued commemoration of wrongdoing. This rests on a misunderstanding of forgiveness, however, and we can explain why there need be no incompatibility between them. To do this, I emphasize the role of what I call nonangry negative moral emotions in constituting memories of wrongdoing. Memories so constituted can persist after forgiveness and have important (...) moral functions, and commemorations can elicit these emotions to preserve memories of this sort. Moreover, commemorations can be a restorative justice practice that promotes reconciliation, but only on condition that the memories they preserve are constituted by nonangry negative, not retributive, emotions. (shrink)
This paper explores the relationship between our interpretations of another's actions and our readiness to forgive. It begins by articulating an account of forgiveness drawn from the New Testament. It then employs the work of Schleiermacher, Dilthey, and Gadamer to investigate ways in which our interpretations of an act or agent can promote or prevent such forgiveness. It concludes with a discussion of some ethical restrictions that may pertain to the interpretation of actions or agents as opposed to (...) utterances and a look at the significance of these restrictions for forgiveness-promoting interpretation. (shrink)
Abstract In this paper I analyze and critique Charles Griswold’s work Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration. Griswold’s theory of forgiveness is structured around the notion that human frailty, imperfection, and susceptibility to unfortunate circumstances are cornerstones of the human experience. While Griswold’s paradigm of forgiveness is compelling on the whole, I argue that this “human frailty thesis” creates unintentional and problematic consequences that undermine major goals of his paradigm. In particular, the human frailty thesis undermines Griswold’s requirement that (...)forgiveness hold an offender accountable for wrongdoing. After identifying and discussing the consequences of the human frailty thesis, I will propose revisions to Griswold’s paradigm that redeem it from the problems I have identified. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-19 DOI 10.1007/s11406-011-9327-4 Authors Hailey Huget, 430 7th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA Journal Philosophia Online ISSN 1574-9274 Print ISSN 0048-3893. (shrink)
Most philosophers who discuss the value of forgiveness concentrate on its moral value. This paper focuses on the prudential value of forgiveness, which has been surprisingly neglected by moral philosophers. I suggest that this may be because part of the concept of forgiveness involves the forgiver being motivated by moral rather than prudential considerations. But this does not justify neglecting the prudential value of forgiveness, which is important even though forgivers should not be prudentially motivated. (...) class='Hi'>Forgiveness helps satisfy interests arising from the need for co-operation in such areas as epistemic life, where humans are interdependent. Forgiveness can restore epistemic relationships, and this has the prudential value of helping agents navigate their way through their environment. While the prudential value of forgiveness may be supplementary to its moral value, it would be a mistake to ignore this area of the debate. Exploring the prudential value of forgiveness enriches our understanding of the role that this practice plays in human life, and may contribute to explaining the origin of forgiveness. (shrink)
Philosophical discussion of forgiveness has mainly focused on cases in which victims and offenders are known to each other. But it commonly happens that a victim brings an offender under a definite description but does not know to which individual this applies. I explore some of the conceptual and moral issues raised by the phenomenon of forgiveness in circumstances in which identification is incomplete, tentative or even mistaken. Among the conclusions reached are that correct and precise identification of (...) the offending individual is not essential for forgiveness to take place; that an offender can, under certain strict conditions, be said to be forgiven by proxy where the victim has misidentified the offender and ‘forgiven’ the wrong person; and that proxy forgiveness of this sort is not subject to the objections commonly levelled against ‘proxy’ or ‘third-party forgiveness.’. (shrink)
IntroductionIt is clear that forgiveness is closely related to emotions. Bishop Butler’s “forswearing of resentment” is still the definition most philosophical works on the subject take as their point of departure. Some others disagree but usually only insofar as they focus on another reactive emotion – e.g., moral hatred, disappointment, anger – which we overcome when we forgive.More specifically, according to Roberts the emotion we overcome in forgiveness is anger, see Robert C. Roberts, “Forgivingness,” American Philosophical Quarterly 32 (...) (1995): 289–306. According to Richards, forgiveness involves overcoming a whole range of negative emotions including sadness, disappointment, frustration as well as resentment; see Norvin Richards, “Forgiveness,” Ethics 99 (1988): 77–97. According to Sher, forgiveness involves overcoming blame; see George Sher, In Praise of Blame (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).There is something striking about the negativity of this approach. Forgiveness i. (shrink)
In several recent articles and in a forthcoming book, I have tried to articulate what I take the real challenge to virtue ethics to be from social psychology. In this article, I develop that challenge again by looking specifically at the virtue of forgiveness.