Blame After Forgiveness

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (3):619-633 (2016)
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When a wrongdoing occurs, victims, barring special circumstance, can aptly forgive their wrongdoers, receive apologies, and be paid reparations. It is also uncontroversial, in the usual circumstances, that wronged parties can aptly blame their wrongdoer. But controversy arises when we consider blame from third-parties after the victim has forgiven. At times it seems that wronged parties can make blame inapt through forgiveness. If third parties blame anyway, it often appears the victim is justified in protesting. “But I forgave him!” In other cases, however, forgiveness seems irrelevant: B can forgive A, but it can still seem that third parties can aptly blame A for the wrong against B. This perplexity adds a dimension to ongoing discussion regarding criteria for apt blame and the related issues of standing and fittingness. This paper explores the status of third party blame after forgiveness. I argue that while post forgiveness blame is often inapt, in many other cases forgiveness is irrelevant. This difference is explained by appeal to the various relationships third parties might have to wronged parties, and how these differences affect the ways we blame and thereby blame’s aptness.



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Maura Priest
Arizona State University

References found in this work

Shaping the Normative Landscape.David Owens - 2012 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The nature and value of rights.Joel Feinberg & Jan Narveson - 1970 - Journal of Value Inquiry 4 (4):243-260.
Articulating an uncompromising forgiveness.Pamela Hieronymi - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (3):529-555.
Moral Blame and Moral Protest.Angela Smith - 2013 - In D. Justin Coates & Neal A. Tognazzini (eds.), Blame: Its Nature and Norms. Oxford University Press.

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