Defending Elective Forgiveness

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10 (2023)
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Abstract

In deciding whether to forgive, we often focus on the wrongdoer, looking for an apology or a change of ways. However, to fully consider whether to forgive, we need to expand our focus from the wrongdoer and their wrongdoing, and we need to consider who we are, what we care about, and what we want to care about. The difference between blame and forgiveness is, at bottom, a difference in priorities. When we blame, we prioritize the wrong, and when we forgive, we shift our priorities away from the wrong. Recognizing this essential role for priorities in forgiveness allows us to address a thorny puzzle in thinking about forgiveness: how is it that forgiveness can be both principled and elective? If there is sufficient reason to forgive, as will sometimes be the case because forgiveness is principled, how can it be reasonable to withhold forgiveness? Recognizing that forgiveness is a shift in our priorities dissolves this apparent tension between forgiveness being principled and forgiveness being elective.

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Craig K. Agule
Rutgers University - Camden

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References found in this work

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