Rosalind Chaplin
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
This paper challenges a common dogma of the literature on forgiveness: that only victims have the standing to forgive. Attacks on third-party forgiveness generally come in two forms. One form of attack suggests that it follows from the nature of forgiveness that third-party forgiveness is impossible. Another form of attack suggests that although third-party forgiveness is possible, it is always improper or morally inappropriate for third parties to forgive. I argue against both of these claims; third-party forgiveness is possible, and in some cases it is morally appropriate for third parties to forgive (or refuse to forgive) wrongdoers for wrongs done to victims. I also propose an explanation of third parties’ standing to forgive: third parties have the standing to forgive when it is appropriate for them to take wrongs done to victims ‘personally’. While appropriately ‘taking a wrong personally’ does not require seeing oneself as a victim, it typically does require being in some form of personal relationship with victims. Thus, while the standing to forgive is not grounded exclusively in having been wronged, the prerogative to forgive is normally limited to victims and their loved ones. And once we recognize the importance of third-party forgiveness in our moral lives and the norms that govern it, we can more easily adjudicate between competing accounts of the nature of forgiveness.​
Keywords Forgiveness  Third-Party Forgiveness  Resentment  Blame
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

1. Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - In John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza (eds.), Perspectives on Moral Responsibility. Cornell University Press. pp. 1-25.
Shaping the Normative Landscape.David Owens - 2012 - Oxford University Press.
Forgiveness and Mercy.Jeffrie G. Murphy & Jean Hampton - 1990 - Cambridge University Press.
Articulating an Uncompromising Forgiveness.Pamela Hieronymi - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (3):529-555.

View all 23 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Third Parties and the Social Scaffolding of Forgiveness.Margaret Urban Walker - 2013 - Journal of Religious Ethics 41 (3):495-512.
Blame After Forgiveness.Maura Priest - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (3):619-633.
The Standing to Forgive.Glen Pettigrove - 2009 - The Monist 92 (4):583-603.
Forgiveness and Moral Solidarity.Alice MacLachlan - 2008 - In Stephen Bloch-Shulman & David White (eds.), Forgiveness: Probing the Boundaries. Inter-Disciplinary Press.
On Taking Back Forgiveness.Geoffrey Scarre - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (4):931-944.
Between Forgiveness and Unforgiveness.Zenon Szablowinski - 2010 - Heythrop Journal 51 (3):471-482.
Forgiveness Without Blame.Espen Gamlund - 2011 - In Christel Fricke (ed.), The Ethics of Forgiveness. Routledge.
Self‐Forgiveness and Forgiveness.Zenon Szablowinski - 2012 - Heythrop Journal 53 (4):678-689.
A Feminist Ethic of Forgiveness.Kathryn J. Norlock - 2001 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
Moral Bystanders and the Virtue of Forgiveness.Linda Radzik - 2010 - In Christopher R. Allers & Marieke Smit (eds.), Forgiveness in Perspective. Rodopi. pp. 66--69.
Forgiveness, Exemplars, and the Oppressed.Myisha Cherry - 2017 - In Kathryn J. Norlock (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Forgiveness. Maryland, USA: pp. 55-72.
Against Elective Forgiveness.Per-Erik Milam - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3):569-584.
Supererogatory Forgiveness.Espen Gamlund - 2010 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 53 (6):540-564.


Added to PP index

Total views
206 ( #52,077 of 2,462,064 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
41 ( #21,473 of 2,462,064 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes