Forgiveness and the Limits of Duty

Etica and Politica/ Ethics and Politics 19 (1):225-244 (2017)
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Can there be a duty to forgive those who have wronged us? According to a popular view amongst philosophers working on forgiveness the answer is no. Forgiveness, it is claimed, is always elective. This view is rejected by Gamlund (2010a; 2010b) who argues that duties to forgive do exist and then provides conditions that are relevant to determining whether forgiveness is obligatory or supererogatory. In this paper I will argue that the conditions that Gamlund provides do not provide a plausible account of the connection between forgiveness and duty. The problems I will raise against Gamlund’s view is a problem that faces any moral view that makes room for supererogation. I will then investigate whether the existing solutions to this problem provide a more plausible account of the connection between forgiveness and obligation. I will argue that the two most prominent solutions, The Favouring Reasons View and The Sacrifice View, produce implausible results when applied to the case of forgiveness. However, an alternative view, The Freedom View, can provide plausible results when applied to the case of forgiveness. This gives us defeasible reason to favour this as a general solution to The Problem of the Good Ought Tie-Up.



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Alfred Archer
Tilburg University

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Moral Reasons.Jonathan Dancy - 1993 - Blackwell.
Wise Choices, Apt Feelings.Allan Gibbard - 1990 - Ethics 102 (2):342-356.
Moral Saints.Susan Wolf - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (8):419-439.

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