I argue that while moral exemplars are useful, we must be careful in our use of them. I first describe forgiveness exemplars that are often used to persuade victims to forgive such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesus of Nazareth. I also explain how, for Kant, highlighting these figures as moral exemplars can be useful. I then explain two kinds of rhetorical strategies that are used when attempting to convince victims to forgive. Last, I explain (a (...) la Kant) how the use of exemplars does not empower but instead disempowers victims. My overall claim is that using exemplars to persuade victims to forgive is problematic. It is best if we rely on decisive reasons to forgive instead of focusing on people who have forgiven. (shrink)
Nearly everyone has wronged another. Who among us has not longed to be forgiven? Who has not struggled to forgive? Charles Griswold has written the first comprehensive philosophical book on forgiveness in both its interpersonal and political contexts, as well as its relation to reconciliation. Having examined the place of forgiveness in ancient philosophy and in modern thought, he discusses what forgiveness is, what conditions the parties to it must meet, its relation to revenge and hatred, when (...) it is permissible and whether it is obligatory, and why it is a virtue. Griswold argues that forgiveness is inappropriate in politics, and analyzes the nature and limits of political apology with reference to historical examples. The book concludes with an examination of the relation between memory, narrative, and truth. (shrink)
In this volume based on her 2014 Locke Lectures, Martha C. Nussbaum provides a bracing new view that strips the notion of forgiveness down to its Judeo-Christian roots, where it was structured by the moral relationship between a score-keeping God and penitent, self-abasing, and erring mortals.
This book focuses on the degree to which certain moral and legal doctrines are rooted in specific passions that are then institutionalised in the form of criminal law. A philosophical analysis is developed of the following questions: when, if ever, should hatred be overcome by sympathy or compassion? What are forgiveness and mercy and to what degree do they require - both conceptually and morally - the overcoming of certain passions and the motivation by other passions? If forgiveness (...) and mercy indeed are moral virtues, what role, if any, should they play in the law? (shrink)
Forgiveness as a positive response to wrongdoing is a widespread phenomenon that plays a role in the moral lives of most persons. Surprisingly, Kant has very little to say on the matter. Although Kant dedicates considerable space to discussing punishment, wrongdoing and grace, he addresses the issues of human forgiveness directly only in some short passages in the Lectures on Ethics and in one passage of the Metaphysics of Morals. As noted by Sussman, the TL passage, however, betrays (...) some ambivalence. Kant establishes a duty of virtue to be forgiving (TL, 6:460), yet he immediately warns against its excess: meek toleration of recurrent wrongs could manifest a lack of self-respect and a violation of a duty to oneself (TL, 6:461). Sussman claims that this ambivalence ultimately arises from the fact that forgiveness sits uncomfortably in Kant’s moral thought. First, forgiveness has an ‘ineluctably elective aspect’ that makes it, to a certain extent, arbitrary and dependent on particular features of the forgiver’s psychology and, as such, in tension with Kant’s central claims that human beings are autonomous agents capable of determining their own moral status. Second, according to Sussman, Kant’s moral retributivism, i.e. ‘the particular moral position that every moral wrong against another deserves punishment of the wrongdoer’ seems to be in tension with the possibility of a ‘truly redemptive forgiveness’. Moreover, forgiveness also seems to be in tension with a passage of the Religion in which Kant argues that the moral guilt from our original evil disposition cannot be understood as a debt or liability that can be compensated, erased, transferred or otherwise wiped out by others (Rel, 6:72). Thus, to the extent that forgiveness might be thought to involve the forgoing of moral guilt, it seems incompatible with Kant’s views on culpability and punishment. This chapter seeks to clarify Kant’s views on forgiveness in order to show that, although not often appreciated, personal forgiveness plays an important role in the lives of ordinary human agents as understood by Kant. In particular, I aim to show there is a conception of forgiveness available to Kant that is not incompatible with Kant’s views of punishment and culpability. In Section 1, I argue that, for Kant, far from being merely ‘elective,’ forgiveness is, under certain conditions, morally required. I provide a brief summary of an interpretation of Kant’s theory of forgiveness that I have defended in recently published work , in order to argue that Kant’s duty to be forgiving should be understood as an imperfect duty of virtue which is conditional on repentance. Kant is not ambivalent about this duty because he maintains that when the relevant conditions are not met, we have a perfect duty to ourselves not to forgive unrepentant wrongdoers. The TL passage thus identifies two different duties. In Section 2, I show that forgiveness, as conceptualised by Kant, does not require the forgoing of punishment or the overcoming of moral guilt and that this could, in fact, be seen as an attractive feature of Kant’s position. I end by offering a very brief assessment of Kant’s views. (shrink)
Forgiveness is clearly an important aspect of our moral lives, yet surprisingly Kant, one of the most important authors in the history of Western ethics, seems to have very little to say about it. Some authors explain this omission by noting that forgiveness sits uncomfortably in Kant’s moral thought: forgiveness seems to have an ineluctably ‘elective’ aspect which makes it to a certain extent arbitrary; thus it stands in tension with Kant’s claim that agents are autonomous beings, (...) capable of determining their own moral status through rational reflection and choice. Other authors recognise that forgiveness plays a role in Kant’s philosophy but fail to appreciate the nature of this duty and misrepresent the Kantian argument in support of it. This paper argues that there is space in Kant’s philosophy for a genuine theory of forgiveness and hopes to lay the grounds for a correct interpretation of this theory. I argue that from a Kantian perspective, forgiveness is not ‘elective’ but, at least in some cases, morally required. I claim that, for Kant, we have an imperfect duty of virtue to forgive repentant wrongdoers that have embarked on a project of self-reflection and self-reform. I develop a novel argument in support of this duty by drawing on Kant’s theory of rational agency, the thesis of radical evil, Kant’s theory of moral development, and the formula of humanity. However, it must be noted that this is a conditional duty and Kant’s position also entails that absence of repentance on the part of the wrongdoer should be taken as evidence of a lack of commitment to a project of self-reflection and self-reform. In such cases, Kant claims, we have a perfect duty to ourselves not to forgive unrepentant wrongdoers. I argue that this duty should be understood as one of the duties of self-esteem, which involves the duty to respect and recognise our own dignity as rational beings. (shrink)
Forgiveness and Retribution: Responding to Wrongdoing argues that ultimately, forgiveness is always the appropriate response to wrongdoing. In recent decades, many philosophers have claimed that unless certain conditions are met, we should resent those who have wronged us personally and that criminal offenders deserve to be punished. Conversely, Margaret Holmgren posits that we should forgive those who have ill-treated us, but only after working through a process of addressing the wrong. Holmgren then reflects on the kinds of laws (...) and social practices a properly forgiving society would adopt. (shrink)
Forgiveness and reconciliation are central to moral life; after all, everyone will be wronged by others and will then face the dual decisions of whether to forgive and whether to reconcile. It is therefore important that we have a clear analysis of each, as well as a thoroughly articulated understanding of how they relate to and differ from each other. -/- Forgiveness has received considerably more attention in the Western philosophical literature than has reconciliation. In this paper I (...) aim to give it the attention it deserves and develop an account of interpersonal reconciliation. On my view reconciliation is fundamentally bilateral (whereas forgiveness is fundamentally unilateral). It entails transparency and agreement between the wrongdoer and the victim as to the nature of a past wrong or set of wrongs. And, it requires that moral repair be made between the two parties (which entails that both parties bear proper attitudes towards each other). In making my case I contrast reconciliation with toleration and collaboration, in order to demonstrate that reconciliation also entails forgiveness (though forgiveness does not entail reconciliation). (shrink)
Forgiveness and Revenge is a powerful exploration of our attitudes to serious wrongdoings and a careful examination of the values that underlie our thinking about revenge and forgiveness. From adulterous spouses to terrorist factions, we are surrounded by wrongdoing, yet we rarely agree which response is appropriate. The problem of how to respond realistically and sensitively to the wrongs of the past remains a perplexing one. Trudy Govier clarifies our thinking on this subject by examining the moral and (...) practical impact of revenge and forgiveness, both personal and political. Forgiveness and Revenge offers much-needed clarity and reason where emotions often prevail. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the ethics of attitudes to wrongdoing. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction and overview; 2. The nature of forgiveness and resentment; 3. The moral analysis of the attitudes of forgiveness and resentment defined; 4. The moral analysis of the attitudes of self-forgiveness and self-condemnation; 5. Philosophical underpinnings of the basic attitudes: forgiveness, resentment, and the nature of persons; 6. Moral theory: justice and desert; 7. The public response to wrongdoing; 8. Restorative justice: the public response to wrongdoing and the process of addressing (...) the wrong. (shrink)
In this monograph, I offer feminist reasons to develop a multidimensional account of forgiveness as a moral, and therefore at least partially deliberative, action or set of actions, which functions as a remedy in responding to blame or condemnation, releasing offenders from the fullness of their blameworthiness, in relational contexts which therefore require considerations of power between relata. I rely on feminist philosophical account of the relational self in order to contextualise these power relations. I provide accounts of (...) class='Hi'>forgiveness as a performative utterance, third-party forgiveness, and self-forgiveness based upon this feminist and multidimensional model of forgiveness. (shrink)
In this book, David Konstan argues that the modern concept of interpersonal forgiveness, in the full sense of the term, did not exist in ancient Greece and Rome. Even more startlingly, it is not fully present in the Hebrew Bible, nor in the New Testament or in the early Jewish and Christian commentaries on the Holy Scriptures. It would still be centuries - many centuries - before the idea of interpersonal forgiveness, with its accompanying ideas of apology, remorse, (...) and a change of heart on the part of the wrongdoer, would emerge. For all its vast importance today in religion, law, politics and psychotherapy, interpersonal forgiveness is a creation of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when the Christian concept of divine forgiveness was fully secularized. Forgiveness was God's province and it took a revolution in thought to bring it to earth and make it a human trait. (shrink)
What is forgiveness? When is it appropriate? Is it to be earned or can it be freely given? Is it a passion we cannot control, or something we choose to do? Glen Pettigrove explores the relationship between forgiving, understanding, and loving. He examines the significance of character for the debate, and revives the long-neglected virtue of grace.
Philosophers writing on forgiveness typically defend the Resentment Theory of Forgiveness, the view that forgiveness is the overcoming of resentment. Rarely is much more said about the nature of resentment or how it is overcome when one forgives. Pamela Hieronymi, however, has advanced detailed accounts both of the nature of resentment and how one overcomes resentment when one forgives. In this paper, I argue that Hieronymi’s account of the nature of forgiveness is committed to two implausible (...) claims about the norms bearing on forgiveness. Her account is highly instructive, however, for it brings into relief how certain intuitive views about the norms of forgiveness should be used to constrain our theories about its nature. I conclude by defending this methodological proposal. (shrink)
We introduce what we call the Emergent Model of forgiving, which is a process-based relational model conceptualizing forgiving as moral and normative repair in the wake of grave wrongs. In cases of grave wrongs, which shatter the victim’s life, the Classical Model of transactional forgiveness falls short of illuminating how genuine forgiveness can be achieved. In a climate of persistent threat and distrust, expressions of remorse, rituals and gestures of apology, and acts of reparation are unable to secure (...) the moral confidence and trust required for moral repair, much less for forgiveness. Without the rudiments of a shared moral world — a world in which, at the very least, the survivor’s violation can be collectively recognized as a violation, and her moral status and authority collectively acknowledged and respected — expressions of remorse, gestures and rituals of apology, or promises of compensation have no authority as meaningful communicative acts with reparative significance. Accordingly, we argue that repair in the wake of traumatic violence involves ‘world-building,’ which supports the ability of survivors to move from despair to hope, from radical and disabling distrust to trust and engagement, and thus from impotence to effective agency. Our Emergent Model treats forgiveness as a slowly developing outcome of a series of changes in a person’s relationship to the trauma and its aftermath, in which moral agency is regained. We argue that forgiveness after grave wrongs and world-shattering harm, when it occurs, emerges from other phenomena, such as cohabitation within a community, gestures of reconciliation, working on shared projects, the developing of trust. On this view, forgiveness is an emergent phenomenon; it entails taking and exercising normative power—coming to claim one’s own moral authority in relation to oneself, one’s assailant, and one’s community. The processes that ultimately constitute forgiving are part and parcel of normative repair more broadly construed. (shrink)
ABSTRACT There are two kinds of forgiveness that appear as radically different from one another: one presents forgiveness as essentially earned through remorseful apology; the other presents it as fundamentally non-earned—a gift. The first, which I label Moral Justice Forgiveness, adopts a stance of moral demand and conditionality; the second, which I label Gifted Forgiveness, adopts a stance of non-demand and un-conditionality. Each is real; yet how can two such different responses to wrongdoing be of one (...) and the same kind? This paper explains how, by showing that the basic role each plays in moral-social life is the same; and that one is conceptually and therefore historically prior to the other. The result is pluralism, with each kind of forgiveness represented as distinctive in both its psychology and its normativity; and yet an ordered pluralism—with Moral Justice Forgiveness revealed as the root kind, and Gifted Forgiveness a culturally contingent iteration. (shrink)
In a world that has become increasingly dependent upon employee ownership, commitment, and initiative, organizations need leaders who can inspire their␣employees and motivate them individually. Love, forgiveness, and trust are critical values of today’s organization leaders who are committed to maximizing value for organizations while helping organization members to become their best. We explain the importance of love, forgiveness, and trust in the modern organization and identify 10 commonalities of these virtues.
Forgiveness usually gets a very good press in our culture: we are deluged with self-help books and television shows all delivering the same message, that forgiveness is good for everyone, and is always the right thing to do. But those who have suffered seriously at the hands of others often and rightly feel that this boosterism about forgiveness is glib and facile. Perhaps forgiveness is not always desirable, especially where the wrongdoing is terrible or the wrongdoer (...) unrepentant. In this book, Garrard and McNaughton suggest that the whole debate suffers from a crippling lack of clarity about what forgiveness really amounts to. They argue that it is more difficult, complex and troubling than many of its advocates suppose. Nevertheless, they conclude, a proper understanding of forgiveness allows us to avoid cheap and shallow forms of it, and enables us to see why it is right and admirable to forgive even unrepentant wrongdoers. (shrink)
The concept of respect for persons is often rejected as a basis for understanding forgiveness. As many have argued, to hold your offender responsible for her actions is to respect her as a person; but this kind of respect is more likely to sustain, rather than dissolve, your resentment toward her (Garrard & McNaughton 2003; 2011; Allais 2008). I seek to defend an alternative view in this paper. To forgive, on my account, involves ceasing to identify your offender with (...) her wrongdoing, and this requires a corresponding affective change on your behalf. While there are different ways this may happen, I argue that respect for your offender as a person can play a significant role in the process. (shrink)
This paper defends an account of forgiveness that is sensitive to recent work on anger. Like others, we claim anger involves an appraisal, namely that someone has done something wrong. But, we add, anger has two further functions. First, anger communicates to the wrongdoer that her act has been appraised as wrong and demands she feel guilty. This function enables us to explain why apologies make it reasonable to forgo anger and forgive. Second, anger sanctions the wrongdoer for what (...) she has done. This function allows us to explore the moral status of forgiveness, including why forgiveness is typically elective. (shrink)
Forgiveness has enjoyed intense scholarly interest since the 1980s. I provide a historical overview, then identify themes in the literature, with an emphasis on those relevant to the moral psychology of forgiveness in the twenty-first century. I conclude with some attention to dual-process theories of moral reasoning in order to suggest that key debates in forgiveness are not at odds so much as they may be aligned with the different moral aims of moral and mental processes that (...) differ in kind. I argue for the view that the moral aims of forgiveness are multiple, following scholars who maintain a multidimensional account of forgiveness with a focus on the functions of forgiveness in relationships and the importance of forgiveness to its practitioners rather than a unified definition or justification that applies to all moral occasions. (shrink)
It is sometimes thought that the normative justification for responding to large-scale violations of human rights via the judicial appararatus of trial and punishment is undermined by the desirability of reconciliation between conflicting parties as part of the process of conflict resolution. I take there to be philosophical, as well as practical and psychological issues involved here: on some conceptions of punishment and reconciliation, the attitudes that they involve conflict with one another on rational grounds. But I shall argue that (...) there is a conception of political reconciliation available which does not involve forgiveness and this forms of reconciliation may be the best we can hope for in many conflicts. Reconciliation is nevertheless likely to require the expression of what Darrell Moellendorf has called 'political regret' and the denunciatory role aspect of punishment makes it particularly well-suited to this role. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to explain what is involved in the exercise of the Judaeo-Christian virtue of forgiveness, and in so doing to lay bare the structure of human (rather than Divine) forgiveness. It argues that it is not possible, through some act of will, to forgive a person for the wrongs that have been done to one, but shows nonetheless that forgiving is a task and that the disposition to undertake this task in the appropriate (...) circumstances may properly be regarded as a virtue. However, to be too willing to undertake this task, or to undertake it in inappropriate circumstances, is a vice since it is indicative of diminished self-respect. Success in the task of forgiving falls beyond our full rational control and depends very largely on a capacity to empathise and to feel an appropriate degree of compassion. Whether or not we are able to do so and sustain this itself depends on certain social contingencies. (shrink)
In ‘Human Fallibility and the Need for Forgiveness’, Claudia Blöser has proposed a Kantian account of our reasons to forgive that situates our moral fallibility as their ultimate ground. Blöser argues that Kant’s duty to be forgiving is grounded on the need to be relieved from the burden of our moral failure, a need that we all have in virtue of our moral fallible nature, regardless of whether or not we have repented. Blöser claims that Kant’s proposal yields a (...) plausible account of the normative status of forgiveness. Kant classifies the duty to be forgiving as a wide duty of virtue, and according to Blöser, this means that Kantian forgiveness is elective in the sense that forgiveness is good in general but without being obligatory in each particular case. In the course of presenting her own reconstruction of Kant’s account, Blöser also objects to some aspects of an interpretation of Kant’s theory of forgiveness which I had previously defended in my paper ‘Forgiveness and Moral Development’. Although there are a lot of points of agreement between our interpretations, the aim of this article is to highlight four key points of disagreement. These issues are worth discussing because they have implications not only for a plausible interpretation of a recognisable Kantian account of forgiveness but also for wider debates in the contemporary literature on forgiveness. First, I show that Kant is not committed to a form of weak situationism as suggested by Blöser and that Kant’s grounding of the duty to be forgiving does not appeal to moral luck. Second, I argue that although Kant’s duty to be forgiving is elective in one sense of the term, it is not elective in another important sense of the term, and that it is in fact better not to interpret Kantian imperfect duties as being elective. Third, I show that awareness of moral fallibility per se does not provide a morally appropriate ground for forgiveness and offer an alternative reconstruction of Kant’s account- in which fallibility plays a role, but it is not the main reason to forgive. Finally, I argue that Blöser’s account of the need to be forgiven is not recognisable Kantian because, from a Kantian perspective, repentance is a necessary condition for the desirability and, in fact, the very possibility of ameliorating our own guilt. (shrink)
The theme of this book is the complex moral psychology of forgiving and remembering in both personal and political contexts. It offers an original account of the moral psychology of interpersonal forgiveness and explores its role in transitional societies. The book also examines the symbolic moral significance of memorialization in these societies and reflects on its relationship to forgiveness.
Although forgiveness is often taken to bear a close connection to the value of reconciliation, there is a good deal of scepticism about its role in situations where there is no consensus on the moral complexion of the past and no admission of guilt on the part of the perpetrator. This scepticism is typically rooted in the claims that forgiveness without perpetrator acknowledgement aggravates the risk of recidivism; yields a substandard and morally compromised form of political accommodation; and (...) comes across as patronizing and offensive to the recipient, thereby causing further alienation. In this article, my aim is to show, firstly, that none of these arguments is decisive and, secondly, that forgiveness is a suitable object of political concern in the absence of cross-community consensus on the rights and wrongs of a conflict. In this way, I aim to demonstrate that forgiveness deserves to be taken seriously as a means to civic reconciliation in a broader range of situations than many have allowed. (shrink)
The paper responds to those who argue that it is morally objectionable to forgive the unapologetic. I argue that it is both possible and permissible to forgive the unapologetic. Along the way the analysis sheds light on the relationship between forgiveness and trust, condonation, self-respect, punishment, justice and apology.
I argue that political forgiveness is sometimes, but not always, compatible with public commemoration of politically motivated wrongdoing. I start by endorsing the claim that commemorating serious past wrongdoing has moral value and imposes moral demands on key actors within post-conflict societies. I am concerned with active commemoration, that is, the deliberate acts of bringing victims and the wrong done to them to public attention. The main issue is whether political forgiveness requires forgetting and conversely whether remembrance can (...) be an impediment to political forgiveness. The notion of political forgiveness, its definition, very possibility and desirability are contentious issues in the contemporary literature. I develop a multidimensional account of political forgiveness with a core element. The core element of political forgiveness involves taking a non-adversarial stance towards perpetrators in the sense of committing to stop holding their wrongdoing against them. The core element of forgiveness is usually combined with other attitudes and practices, which are appropriate depending on the circumstances. This is due to the fact that there are different ways of holding a wrong against an offender. I argue that forgiving perpetrators is not compatible with continue to punishing them, refusing to reconcile with them, and/or reminding them of their misdeed if perpetrators refuse to accept punishment, deny the importance of commemorating the past or wish to reconcile against the victim’s desires. I show that some forms of political forgiveness are not morally legitimate because they conflict with moral demands to punish perpetrators, commemorate atrocities and respect victims. This conclusion is less alarming than it might initially seem because the refusal to forgive politically motivated wrongdoing does not necessarily lead to the perpetuation of violence and conflict. I briefly draw on the example of Argentina in order to show how some forms of political un-forgiveness can be morally legitimate and effective ways for victims to uphold these demands. (shrink)
Recent literature on forgiveness suggests that a successful account of the phenomenon must satisfy at least three conditions: it must be able to explain how forgiveness can be articulate, uncompromising, and elective. These three conditions are not logically inconsistent, but the history of reflection on the ethics of forgiveness nonetheless suggests that they are in tension. Accounts that emphasize articulateness and uncompromisingness tend to suggest an excessively deflationary understanding of electiveness, underestimating the degree to which forgiveness (...) is a gift. Accounts that emphasize electiveness, on the other hand, tend to weaken the safeguards that keep forgiveness distinct from condonation, excuse, or mere servility. I argue in this paper that we can do justice to the three conditions by understanding forgiveness in terms of the concept of institution that Maurice Merleau-Ponty developed in his work from the early- to mid-1950s. (shrink)
What does it mean to forgive? The answer is widely assumed to be self-evident but critical analysis quickly reveals the complexities of the subject. Forgiveness has traditionally been the preserve of Christian theology, though in the last half century - and at an accelerating pace - psychologists, lawyers, politicians and moral philosophers have all been making an important contribution to questions about and our understanding of the subject. Anthony Bash offers a vigorous restatement of the Christian view of (...) class='Hi'>forgiveness in critical dialogue with those both within and without the Christian tradition. Forgiveness is a much more complicated subject than many theologians recognize. Bash explores the relevance of the theoretical discussion of the topic to recent events such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, post-Holocaust trials, the aftermath of 9/11 and July 7 and various high-profile criminal cases. (shrink)
Forgiveness and reconciliation have been shown to be beneficial alternatives to revenge as responses to an interpersonal offense in the workplace. Prior research on these topics, however, is often narrow in scope, focusing on only the victim. Moreover, existing research is often unclear about the relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation. In response, this article proposes a conceptual framework of forgiveness, reconciliation, and their respective antecedents which is both multi-level and interdisciplinary. This framework is used to review the (...) nascent management-related research on forgiveness and reconciliation, and to augment this research from other fields, especially social psychology. Future research directions and managerial implications are proposed based on the multi-level model and research from other fields. (shrink)
Philosophical discussion of forgiveness has mainly focused on cases in which victims and offenders are known to each other. But it commonly happens that a victim brings an offender under a definite description but does not know to which individual this applies. I explore some of the conceptual and moral issues raised by the phenomenon of forgiveness in circumstances in which identification is incomplete, tentative or even mistaken. Among the conclusions reached are that correct and precise identification of (...) the offending individual is not essential for forgiveness to take place; that an offender can, under certain strict conditions, be said to be forgiven by proxy where the victim has misidentified the offender and ‘forgiven’ the wrong person; and that proxy forgiveness of this sort is not subject to the objections commonly levelled against ‘proxy’ or ‘third-party forgiveness.’. (shrink)
Philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch has only recently begun to receive his due from the English-speaking world, thanks in part to discussions of his thought by Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Lévinas, and Paul Ricoeur. His international readers have long valued his unique, interdisciplinary approach to philosophy’s greatest questions and his highly readable writing style. Originally published in 1967, Le Pardon, or Forgiveness, is one of Jankélévitch’s most influential works. In it, he characterizes the ultimate ethical act of forgiving as behaving toward the (...) perpetrator as if he or she had never committed the action, rather than merely forgetting or rationalizing it—a controversial notion when considering events as heinous as the Holocaust. Like so many of Jankélévitch’s works, Forgiveness transcends standard treatments of moral problems, not simply generating a treatise on one subject but incorporating discussions of topics such as free will, giving, creativity, and temporality. Translator Andrew Kelley masterfully captures Jankélévitch’s melodic prose and, in a substantive introduction, reviews his life and intellectual contributions. Forgiveness is an essential part of that legacy, and this indispensable English translation provides key tools for understanding one of the great Western philosophers of the twentieth century. (shrink)
This chapter considers the possibility and ethics of collective forgiveness. I begin by distinguishing between different forms of forgiveness to illustrate what it might look like for a collective to forgive that is distinct from the individual and group-based forgiveness of its members. I then consider how emotional models of forgiveness might capture the phenomenon of collective forgiveness. I argue that shortcomings with emotional models suggest that performative and social practice models of forgiveness more (...) plausibly extend to collective forgiveness. I close by exploring a range of moral questions and objections to practices of collective forgiveness. (shrink)
Many theorists have found the notion of forgiveness to be paradoxical, for it is thought that only the blameworthy can be appropriately forgiven but that the blameworthy are appropriately blamed not forgiven. Some have appealed to the notion of repentance to resolve this tension. But others have objected that such a response is explanatorily inadequate in the sense that it merely stipulates and names a solution leaving the transformative power of repentance unexplained. Worse still, others have objected that such (...) a response cannot succeed because no amount of repentance can render the blameworthy not blameworthy. I argue that this latter objection is based on a mistaken assumption, the acknowledgement of which has the power to resolve the paradox in a way that meets the explanatory adequacy challenge, and, more generally, has significant implications with which any full theory of forgiveness must engage. (shrink)
In my paper “Moral Grounds for Forgiveness,” I argued that forgiveness is morally appropriate only when a sincere apology is received, thus ruling out the three grounds for unconditional forgiveness suggested by John Kleinig in his paper “Forgiveness and Unconditionality.” In response to his reply “Defending Unconditional Forgiveness,” I argue here that my terminology, once clarified, does not undermine my construal of resentment; that conditional forgiveness is just as discretionary as unconditional forgiveness; and (...) that what we choose to take into account when we forgive must be a morally appropriate grounding for that particular end, but that only a sincere apology could satisfy this condition. I end by conceding that the three grounds suggested by Kleinig nevertheless play an essential role in the process of (conditional) forgiveness insofar as they facilitate a willingness to forgive and an openness toward accepting an apology. (shrink)
The categorical denial of third-party forgiveness represents an overly individualistic approach to moral repair. Such an approach fails to acknowledge the important roles played by witnesses, bystanders, beneficiaries, and others who stand in solidarity to the primary victim and perpetrator. In this paper, I argue that the prerogative to forgive or withhold forgiveness is not universal, but neither is it restricted to victims alone. Not only can we make moral sense of some third-party acts and utterances of the (...) form, “I can or cannot forgive…” but also, we ought to recognize them as legitimate instances of third party forgiveness. Concern for the primary victim’s autonomy tends to exaggerate a need for moral deference, while ignoring how others are called upon to support and mediate for victims of violence and oppression. I advocate a cautious extension of the victim’s prerogative to forgive, one that grounds forgiveness in a double relation of sympathetic identification and attentive care. Following Jean Harvey’s recent work, I call this relationship moral solidarity. Furthermore, I argue, there are important moral and political reasons to acknowledge third party forgiveness; these reasons are particularly evident in contexts of oppression. In fact, third party refusals to forgive may have particular moral significance. In situations of abuse, oppression and damaged self-respect, third party refusals may protect the agency of victims who too easily forgive. (shrink)
ABSTRACTHieronymi and Zaibert think that forgiving requires resolving not to inflict any further punishment. Murphy, Garrard, Allais, and Pettigrove suggest that it is always possible for a victim to forgive a perpetrator while continuing to punish. In this paper I defend a middle-ground position: the non-adversarial account of forgiveness, according to which forgiving is sometimes but not always compatible with continuing to punish. When the perpetrator accepts continued punishment, it is no obstacle to forgiveness. But if the victim (...) continues to inflict punishment that she knows is rejected by the perpetrator, she is still holding the wrong against the perpetrator, and has not yet forgiven. (shrink)
This paper examines the idea that forgiveness requires, either for its existence or for its justification, the meeting of moral and epistemic conditions which show that resentment is no longer warranted. I argue that this idea results in over-intellectualizing and over-moralizing forgiveness, and in failing to accommodate its elective nature. I sketch an alternative account, which appeals to the differences between emotions and beliefs, and the idea that we have more rational optionality with respect to emotions.
Abstract The concept of interpersonal forgiveness is described first through an examination of ancient writings and contemporary philosophical and psychological discourse. Two psychological models are then described. The first concerns developmental patterns in how people think about forgiving another. The second describes how people may go about forgiving another. Implications for counseling and education are drawn.
While forgiveness is widely recognised as an example of a supererogatory action, it remains to be explained precisely what makes forgiveness supererogatory, or the circumstances under which it is supererogatory to forgive. Philosophers often claim that forgiveness is supererogatory, but most of the time they do so without offering an adequate explanation for why it is supererogatory to forgive. Accordingly, the literature on forgiveness lacks a sufficiently nuanced account of the supererogatory status of forgiveness. In (...) this paper, I seek to remedy this shortcoming by offering a systematic account of forgiveness as an example of a supererogatory action. In terms of explaining the supererogatory status of forgiveness, I will argue that, to qualify as supererogatory, a forgiving action must fulfil three conditions: (i) it must be permissible; (ii) it must not be obligatory; and (iii) it must be good or praiseworthy, that is, it must have a certain moral value. Moreover, a distinction is drawn between “unconditional” and “conditional” forgiveness. I argue that conditional forgiveness (i.e. forgiveness of repentant wrongdoers) is sometimes a duty and sometimes supererogatory, whereas unconditional forgiveness (i.e. forgiveness of unrepentant wrongdoers) is typically supererogatory or beyond duty. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that forgiveness is a morally appropriate response only when it is grounded in the wrongdoer’s demonstration of genuine remorse, their offer of a sincere apology, and, where appropriate, acts of recompense and behavioral change. I then respond to John Kleinig’s suggestion (in his paper “Forgiveness and Unconditionality”) that when an apology is not forthcoming, there are at least three additional grounds that, when motivated by virtues such as love and compassion, could nevertheless render (...) “unconditional forgiveness” a morally laudable option. I argue that such grounds could indeed constitute or result in laudable responses to wrongdoing, but only if they are not conceived of or described in terms of forgiveness. (shrink)
Despite broad agreement that forgiveness involves overcoming resentment, the small philosophical literature on this topic has made little progress in determining which of the many ways of overcoming resentment is forgiveness. In a recent paper, however, Pamela Hieronymi proposed a way forward by requiring that accounts of forgiveness be “articulate” and “uncompromising.” I argue for these requirements, but also claim that Hieronymi’s proposed articulate and uncompromising account must be rejected because it cannot accommodate the fact that only (...) some agents have the standing to forgive. I end by sketching an alternative account which, I claim, explains the phenomenon of standing. (shrink)