The Duty to Forgive Repentant Wrongdoers

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (5):651-671 (2010)
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The purpose of this paper is to consider the question of whether we have a duty to forgive those who repent and apologize for the wrong they have done. I shall argue that we have a pro tanto duty to forgive repentant wrongdoers, and I shall propose and consider the norm of forgiveness. This norm states that if a wrongdoer repents and apologizes to a victim, then the victim has a duty to forgive the wrongdoer, other things being equal. That someone has a pro tanto duty to forgive a repentant wrongdoer means that he or she ought to forgive unless other considerations outweigh the norm of forgiveness. Furthermore, a distinction is made between what are termed 'general considerations' and 'case-relative considerations', and it is argued that only after all the relevant considerations have been examined can it be determined whether there is a duty to forgive, all things considered.



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Espen Gamlund
University of Bergen

Citations of this work

Obligatory Gifts: An Essay on Forgiveness.Mario Attie-Picker - 2023 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9 (18).
Forgiveness, Repentance, and Diachronic Blameworthiness.Andrew C. Khoury - 2022 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (4):700-720.
Is There a Right to Be Forgiven?Luke Maring - 2020 - Philosophia 48:1101–1115.
Strict Moral Answerability.Maximilian Kiener - 2024 - Ethics 134 (3):360-386.

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What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Ethics without principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
Practical reason and norms.Joseph Raz - 1975 - London: Hutchinson.

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