Nearly everyone has wronged another. Who among us has not longed to be forgiven? Who has not struggled to forgive? Charles Griswold has written the first comprehensive philosophical book on forgiveness in both its interpersonal and political contexts, as well as its relation to reconciliation. Having examined the place of forgiveness in ancient philosophy and in modern thought, he discusses what forgiveness is, what conditions the parties to it must meet, its relation to revenge and hatred, when (...) it is permissible and whether it is obligatory, and why it is a virtue. Griswold argues that forgiveness is inappropriate in politics, and analyzes the nature and limits of political apology with reference to historical examples. The book concludes with an examination of the relation between memory, narrative, and truth. (shrink)
What is forgiveness? When is it appropriate? Is it to be earned or can it be freely given? Is it a passion we cannot control, or something we choose to do? Glen Pettigrove explores the relationship between forgiving, understanding, and loving. He examines the significance of character for the debate, and revives the long-neglected virtue of grace.
Forgiveness and reconciliation are central to moral life; after all, everyone will be wronged by others and will then face the dual decisions of whether to forgive and whether to reconcile. It is therefore important that we have a clear analysis of each, as well as a thoroughly articulated understanding of how they relate to and differ from each other. -/- Forgiveness has received considerably more attention in the Western philosophical literature than has reconciliation. In this paper I (...) aim to give it the attention it deserves and develop an account of interpersonal reconciliation. On my view reconciliation is fundamentally bilateral (whereas forgiveness is fundamentally unilateral). It entails transparency and agreement between the wrongdoer and the victim as to the nature of a past wrong or set of wrongs. And, it requires that moral repair be made between the two parties (which entails that both parties bear proper attitudes towards each other). In making my case I contrast reconciliation with toleration and collaboration, in order to demonstrate that reconciliation also entails forgiveness (though forgiveness does not entail reconciliation). (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.
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)
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. (shrink)
I argue that while moral exemplars are useful, we must be careful in our use of them. I first describe forgiveness exemplars that are often used to persuade victims to forgive such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesus of Nazareth. I also explain how, for Kant, highlighting these figures as moral exemplars can be useful. I then explain two kinds of rhetorical strategies that are used when attempting to convince victims to forgive. Last, I explain (a (...) la Kant) how the use of exemplars does not empower but instead disempowers victims. My overall claim is that using exemplars to persuade victims to forgive is problematic. It is best if we rely on decisive reasons to forgive instead of focusing on people who have forgiven. (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)
This book focuses on the degree to which certain moral and legal doctrines are rooted in specific passions that are then institutionalised in the form of criminal law. A philosophical analysis is developed of the following questions: when, if ever, should hatred be overcome by sympathy or compassion? What are forgiveness and mercy and to what degree do they require - both conceptually and morally - the overcoming of certain passions and the motivation by other passions? If forgiveness (...) and mercy indeed are moral virtues, what role, if any, should they play in the law? (shrink)
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)
ABSTRACT There are two kinds of forgiveness that appear as radically different from one another: one presents forgiveness as essentially earned through remorseful apology; the other presents it as fundamentally non-earned—a gift. The first, which I label Moral Justice Forgiveness, adopts a stance of moral demand and conditionality; the second, which I label Gifted Forgiveness, adopts a stance of non-demand and un-conditionality. Each is real; yet how can two such different responses to wrongdoing be of one (...) and the same kind? This paper explains how, by showing that the basic role each plays in moral-social life is the same; and that one is conceptually and therefore historically prior to the other. The result is pluralism, with each kind of forgiveness represented as distinctive in both its psychology and its normativity; and yet an ordered pluralism—with Moral Justice Forgiveness revealed as the root kind, and Gifted Forgiveness a culturally contingent iteration. (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)
In this volume based on her 2014 Locke Lectures, Martha C. Nussbaum provides a bracing new view that strips the notion of forgiveness down to its Judeo-Christian roots, where it was structured by the moral relationship between a score-keeping God and penitent, self-abasing, and erring mortals.
Forgiveness and Revenge is a powerful exploration of our attitudes to serious wrongdoings and a careful examination of the values that underlie our thinking about revenge and forgiveness. From adulterous spouses to terrorist factions, we are surrounded by wrongdoing, yet we rarely agree which response is appropriate. The problem of how to respond realistically and sensitively to the wrongs of the past remains a perplexing one. Trudy Govier clarifies our thinking on this subject by examining the moral and (...) practical impact of revenge and forgiveness, both personal and political. Forgiveness and Revenge offers much-needed clarity and reason where emotions often prevail. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the ethics of attitudes to wrongdoing. (shrink)
Recent literature on forgiveness suggests that a successful account of the phenomenon must satisfy at least three conditions: it must be able to explain how forgiveness can be articulate, uncompromising, and elective. These three conditions are not logically inconsistent, but the history of reflection on the ethics of forgiveness nonetheless suggests that they are in tension. Accounts that emphasize articulateness and uncompromisingness tend to suggest an excessively deflationary understanding of electiveness, underestimating the degree to which forgiveness (...) is a gift. Accounts that emphasize electiveness, on the other hand, tend to weaken the safeguards that keep forgiveness distinct from condonation, excuse, or mere servility. I argue in this paper that we can do justice to the three conditions by understanding forgiveness in terms of the concept of institution that Maurice Merleau-Ponty developed in his work from the early- to mid-1950s. (shrink)
Forgiveness as a positive response to wrongdoing is a widespread phenomenon that plays a role in the moral lives of most persons. Surprisingly, Kant has very little to say on the matter. Although Kant dedicates considerable space to discussing punishment, wrongdoing and grace, he addresses the issues of human forgiveness directly only in some short passages in the Lectures on Ethics and in one passage of the Metaphysics of Morals. As noted by Sussman, the TL passage, however, betrays (...) some ambivalence. Kant establishes a duty of virtue to be forgiving (TL, 6:460), yet he immediately warns against its excess: meek toleration of recurrent wrongs could manifest a lack of self-respect and a violation of a duty to oneself (TL, 6:461). Sussman claims that this ambivalence ultimately arises from the fact that forgiveness sits uncomfortably in Kant’s moral thought. First, forgiveness has an ‘ineluctably elective aspect’ that makes it, to a certain extent, arbitrary and dependent on particular features of the forgiver’s psychology and, as such, in tension with Kant’s central claims that human beings are autonomous agents capable of determining their own moral status. Second, according to Sussman, Kant’s moral retributivism, i.e. ‘the particular moral position that every moral wrong against another deserves punishment of the wrongdoer’ seems to be in tension with the possibility of a ‘truly redemptive forgiveness’. Moreover, forgiveness also seems to be in tension with a passage of the Religion in which Kant argues that the moral guilt from our original evil disposition cannot be understood as a debt or liability that can be compensated, erased, transferred or otherwise wiped out by others (Rel, 6:72). Thus, to the extent that forgiveness might be thought to involve the forgoing of moral guilt, it seems incompatible with Kant’s views on culpability and punishment. This chapter seeks to clarify Kant’s views on forgiveness in order to show that, although not often appreciated, personal forgiveness plays an important role in the lives of ordinary human agents as understood by Kant. In particular, I aim to show there is a conception of forgiveness available to Kant that is not incompatible with Kant’s views of punishment and culpability. In Section 1, I argue that, for Kant, far from being merely ‘elective,’ forgiveness is, under certain conditions, morally required. I provide a brief summary of an interpretation of Kant’s theory of forgiveness that I have defended in recently published work , in order to argue that Kant’s duty to be forgiving should be understood as an imperfect duty of virtue which is conditional on repentance. Kant is not ambivalent about this duty because he maintains that when the relevant conditions are not met, we have a perfect duty to ourselves not to forgive unrepentant wrongdoers. The TL passage thus identifies two different duties. In Section 2, I show that forgiveness, as conceptualised by Kant, does not require the forgoing of punishment or the overcoming of moral guilt and that this could, in fact, be seen as an attractive feature of Kant’s position. I end by offering a very brief assessment of Kant’s views. (shrink)
This paper examines the idea that forgiveness requires, either for its existence or for its justification, the meeting of moral and epistemic conditions which show that resentment is no longer warranted. I argue that this idea results in over-intellectualizing and over-moralizing forgiveness, and in failing to accommodate its elective nature. I sketch an alternative account, which appeals to the differences between emotions and beliefs, and the idea that we have more rational optionality with respect to emotions.
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.
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)
Forgiveness usually gets a very good press in our culture: we are deluged with self-help books and television shows all delivering the same message, that forgiveness is good for everyone, and is always the right thing to do. But those who have suffered seriously at the hands of others often and rightly feel that this boosterism about forgiveness is glib and facile. Perhaps forgiveness is not always desirable, especially where the wrongdoing is terrible or the wrongdoer (...) unrepentant. In this book, Garrard and McNaughton suggest that the whole debate suffers from a crippling lack of clarity about what forgiveness really amounts to. They argue that it is more difficult, complex and troubling than many of its advocates suppose. Nevertheless, they conclude, a proper understanding of forgiveness allows us to avoid cheap and shallow forms of it, and enables us to see why it is right and admirable to forgive even unrepentant wrongdoers. (shrink)
Although forgiveness is often taken to bear a close connection to the value of reconciliation, there is a good deal of scepticism about its role in situations where there is no consensus on the moral complexion of the past and no admission of guilt on the part of the perpetrator. This scepticism is typically rooted in the claims that forgiveness without perpetrator acknowledgement aggravates the risk of recidivism; yields a substandard and morally compromised form of political accommodation; and (...) comes across as patronizing and offensive to the recipient, thereby causing further alienation. In this article, my aim is to show, firstly, that none of these arguments is decisive and, secondly, that forgiveness is a suitable object of political concern in the absence of cross-community consensus on the rights and wrongs of a conflict. In this way, I aim to demonstrate that forgiveness deserves to be taken seriously as a means to civic reconciliation in a broader range of situations than many have allowed. (shrink)
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)
The aim of this paper is to explain what is involved in the exercise of the Judaeo-Christian virtue of forgiveness, and in so doing to lay bare the structure of human (rather than Divine) forgiveness. It argues that it is not possible, through some act of will, to forgive a person for the wrongs that have been done to one, but shows nonetheless that forgiving is a task and that the disposition to undertake this task in the appropriate (...) circumstances may properly be regarded as a virtue. However, to be too willing to undertake this task, or to undertake it in inappropriate circumstances, is a vice since it is indicative of diminished self-respect. Success in the task of forgiving falls beyond our full rational control and depends very largely on a capacity to empathise and to feel an appropriate degree of compassion. Whether or not we are able to do so and sustain this itself depends on certain social contingencies. (shrink)
The theme of this book is the complex moral psychology of forgiving and remembering in both personal and political contexts. It offers an original account of the moral psychology of interpersonal forgiveness and explores its role in transitional societies. The book also examines the symbolic moral significance of memorialization in these societies and reflects on its relationship to 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)
While forgiveness is widely recognised as an example of a supererogatory action, it remains to be explained precisely what makes forgiveness supererogatory, or the circumstances under which it is supererogatory to forgive. Philosophers often claim that forgiveness is supererogatory, but most of the time they do so without offering an adequate explanation for why it is supererogatory to forgive. Accordingly, the literature on forgiveness lacks a sufficiently nuanced account of the supererogatory status of forgiveness. In (...) this paper, I seek to remedy this shortcoming by offering a systematic account of forgiveness as an example of a supererogatory action. In terms of explaining the supererogatory status of forgiveness, I will argue that, to qualify as supererogatory, a forgiving action must fulfil three conditions: (i) it must be permissible; (ii) it must not be obligatory; and (iii) it must be good or praiseworthy, that is, it must have a certain moral value. Moreover, a distinction is drawn between “unconditional” and “conditional” forgiveness. I argue that conditional forgiveness (i.e. forgiveness of repentant wrongdoers) is sometimes a duty and sometimes supererogatory, whereas unconditional forgiveness (i.e. forgiveness of unrepentant wrongdoers) is typically supererogatory or beyond duty. (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)
Abstract The concept of interpersonal forgiveness is described first through an examination of ancient writings and contemporary philosophical and psychological discourse. Two psychological models are then described. The first concerns developmental patterns in how people think about forgiving another. The second describes how people may go about forgiving another. Implications for counseling and education are drawn.
Although Kant’s moral philosophy is often presented as a kind of secularized Christianity, Kant seems to have very little to say about forgiveness, a topic of some traditional Christian interest. This reticence is particularly striking when we consider the central role in Kant’s thought played by ideas of obligation, responsibility and guilt.
Despite broad agreement that forgiveness involves overcoming resentment, the small philosophical literature on this topic has made little progress in determining which of the many ways of overcoming resentment is forgiveness. In a recent paper, however, Pamela Hieronymi proposed a way forward by requiring that accounts of forgiveness be “articulate” and “uncompromising.” I argue for these requirements, but also claim that Hieronymi’s proposed articulate and uncompromising account must be rejected because it cannot accommodate the fact that only (...) some agents have the standing to forgive. I end by sketching an alternative account which, I claim, explains the phenomenon of standing. (shrink)
ABSTRACTHieronymi and Zaibert think that forgiving requires resolving not to inflict any further punishment. Murphy, Garrard, Allais, and Pettigrove suggest that it is always possible for a victim to forgive a perpetrator while continuing to punish. In this paper I defend a middle-ground position: the non-adversarial account of forgiveness, according to which forgiving is sometimes but not always compatible with continuing to punish. When the perpetrator accepts continued punishment, it is no obstacle to forgiveness. But if the victim (...) continues to inflict punishment that she knows is rejected by the perpetrator, she is still holding the wrong against the perpetrator, and has not yet forgiven. (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)
We introduce what we call the Emergent Model of forgiving, which is a process-based relational model conceptualizing forgiving as moral and normative repair in the wake of grave wrongs. In cases of grave wrongs, which shatter the victim’s life, the Classical Model of transactional forgiveness falls short of illuminating how genuine forgiveness can be achieved. In a climate of persistent threat and distrust, expressions of remorse, rituals and gestures of apology, and acts of reparation are unable to secure (...) the moral confidence and trust required for moral repair, much less for forgiveness. Without the rudiments of a shared moral world — a world in which, at the very least, the survivor’s violation can be collectively recognized as a violation, and her moral status and authority collectively acknowledged and respected — expressions of remorse, gestures and rituals of apology, or promises of compensation have no authority as meaningful communicative acts with reparative significance. Accordingly, we argue that repair in the wake of traumatic violence involves ‘world-building,’ which supports the ability of survivors to move from despair to hope, from radical and disabling distrust to trust and engagement, and thus from impotence to effective agency. Our Emergent Model treats forgiveness as a slowly developing outcome of a series of changes in a person’s relationship to the trauma and its aftermath, in which moral agency is regained. We argue that forgiveness after grave wrongs and world-shattering harm, when it occurs, emerges from other phenomena, such as cohabitation within a community, gestures of reconciliation, working on shared projects, the developing of trust. On this view, forgiveness is an emergent phenomenon; it entails taking and exercising normative power—coming to claim one’s own moral authority in relation to oneself, one’s assailant, and one’s community. The processes that ultimately constitute forgiving are part and parcel of normative repair more broadly construed. (shrink)
When we forgive, we do so for reasons. One challenge for forgiveness theorists is to explain which reasons are reasons to forgive and which are not. This paper argues that we forgive in response to a perceived change of heart on the part of the offender. The argument proceeds in four steps. First, I show that we forgive for reasons. Second, I argue that forgiveness requires the right kind of reason. Third, I show that these two points explain (...) a common distinction between forgiving and letting go and, in doing so, solve a problem facing many accounts of forgiveness. Finally, I consider candidate reasons to forgive and argue that all of them are either the wrong kind of reason or are instances of a more general reason of the right kind, namely, a perceived change of heart. (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)
In his paper, “The Paradox of Forgiveness“ (this Journal 6 (2009), p. 365-393), Leo Zaibert defends the novel and interesting claim that to forgive is deliberately to refuse to punish. I argue that this is mistaken.
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.
This essay defends the possibility of preemptive forgiving, that is, forgiving before the offending action has taken place. This essay argues that our moral practices and emotions admit such a possibility, and it attempts to offer examples to illustrate this phenomenon. There are two main reasons why someone might doubt the possibility of preemptive forgiving. First, one might think that preemptive forgiving would amount to granting permission. Second, one might think that forgiving requires emotional content that is not available prior (...) to wrongdoing. If, however, preemptively forgiving is genuinely possible—as this essay hopes to illustrate—then this fact has implications for our understanding of both relational normativity and the nature of forgiveness. (shrink)
I argue that divine forgiveness is God’s openness to reconciliation with us, the wrongdoers, with respect to our wrongdoing. The main advantage of this view is that it explains the power of divine forgiveness to reconcile us to God when we repent. As I show, this view also fits well with the parable of the prodigal son, which is commonly taken to illustrate divine forgiveness, and it accounts for the close connection between divine forgiveness and Christ’s (...) atonement. Finally, I demonstrate that this view is particularly well-suited, although not committed, to the idea that God forgives us without our repentance. (shrink)
The article examines the political challenge and significance of forgiveness as an indispensable response to the inherently imperfect and tragic nature of political life through the lens of the existential, narrative-inspired judging sensibility. While the political significance of forgiveness has been broadly recognized in transitional justice and reconciliation contexts, the question of its importance and appropriateness in the wake of grave injustice and suffering has commonly been approached through constructing a self-centred, rule-based framework, defining forgiveness in terms (...) of a moral duty or virtue. Reliant on a set of prefabricated moral standards, however, this approach risks abstracting from the historical, situated condition of human political existence and thus arguably stands at a remove from the very quandaries and imperfections of the political world, which it purports to address. Against this background, this article draws on Albert Camus’s and Hannah Arendt’s aesthetic, worldly judging sensibility and its ability to kindle the process of coming to terms with the absurd, and perhaps unforgivable character of reality after evil. As an aptitude to engage the world in its particularity, plurality and contingency rather than seeking to subdue and tame it under prefabricated standards of thought, namely, worldly judgement is able to reveal how past tragedies have arisen from the ambiguity of human engagement in the world and thereby also elicit the distinctly human capacities of beginning anew and resisting such actions in the future. As such, I suggest, it is well-suited to bring into clearer focus and confront the main political challenge and significance of forgiveness: how to acknowledge the seriousness of the wrongs committed, yet also enable the possibility of a new beginning and restore among former enemies the sense of responsibility for the shared world. (shrink)
Forgiveness seems especially apt in cases where the wrongdoer first performs some act of reparation. Suppose Valerie betrays Madison's trust out of careerist self-interest. The betrayal is serious, no excusing or exempting conditions obtain, and Madison responds with justified resentment. In one world, Valerie never acknowledges the impropriety of her past act and continues on as before. In another world, Valerie apologizes and sends Madison a beautiful bouquet of flowers. All else being equal, forgiveness seems called for or (...) apt in the second case in a way that it does not in the first. Reparative activities have a certain power, and forgiving in response to the wrongdoer's reparation strikes many as especially apt. (shrink)
Of the many forgiveness-related questions that she takes up in her novels, the one with which Iris Murdoch wrestles most often is the question, “Is forgiveness possible without God?” The aim of this essay is to show, in the first instance, why the question Murdoch persistently raises is a question worth asking. Alongside this primary aim stands a secondary one, which is to consider how one might glean moral insights from the Christian tradition even if one does not (...) (any longer) endorse its theological commitments. (shrink)
In the philosophical literature on forgiveness it is almost universally assumed that only the victim of a wrong has the standing to forgive. This paper challenges that assumption and argues for the possibility of meaningful second- and third-party forgiveness.
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)