In Ruth Chadwick (ed.), Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics (Second Edition). pp. 113-120 (2012)

Alice MacLachlan
York University
Forgiveness and mercy are both generous responses to wrongdoing. Forgiveness is a personal reaction to wrongful harm. It can be expressed in emotional, verbal, or relational terms, and it can potentially express a number of important moral values. Controversial topics with regard to forgiveness include the possibility of unforgivable actions and of third-party, self, and group forgiveness. Recent political developments have invited philosophical reflection on public forgiveness. Mercy is usually theorized in relation to punishment, and it is understood to provide the basis for more lenient treatment than that demanded by justice, interpreted strictly. It remains controversial as to whether mercy should be understood apart from justice or incorporated within it.
Keywords Blame  Anger  Forgiveness  Mercy  Punishment  Reconciliation  Self-respect  Supererogation  Trust  Wrongdoing
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