Love actually: law and the moral psychology of forgiveness

Journal of Critical Realism 17 (4):390-407 (2018)
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Abstract

ABSTRACTLove is the basis for a moral psychology of forgiveness. I argue for an account of love based on Roy Bhaskar's conception of its five circles, and of the ethical nature of human beings as concrete universals/singulars. Linking this to work of ‘The Forgiveness Project’, I argue that forgiveness can be understood metaphysically in terms of its relation to love of self, of the other, of the relation of self and other, of self, other and the wider community, and of self and other in their ontological depth as unique individuals. Forgiveness involves both a ‘giving to’ and a ‘giving up’, and this can lead to a profound sense of identity between a victim and a perpetrator. Forgiveness is different for each person; it may draw upon a public/legal setting as a proxy for universal judgement; and it confronts social-structural and political elements which may block its development.

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