Forgiveness Essays | Wisdom Commons

Common conceptions of forgiveness make clear that its main purpose isthe re-establishment or resumption of a relationship ruptured bywrongdoing. In keeping with the common conceptions of forgiveness,many contemporary philosophers argue that the resumption ofrelationships disrupted by wrongdoing often requires a moralreassessment of the wrongdoer by the victim, and that such areassessment involves relinquishing resentment or some other form ofmorally inflected anger (Murphy & Hampton 1988; Murphy 2001), orbehavior such as seeking revenge (Griswold 2007; Zaibert 2009; Govier2002; Hughes 2016).

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Learning forgiveness has helped me become a better person too. I always try to look at how good the person was I am mad at rather than what they did to me and can forgive them and build a stronger friendship.

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Sometimes we do things that appear to be morally wrong. Suppose I seeyou, a total stranger, take a pear from a fruit stand and walk offwith it. I reproach you for having stolen the pear into which you arenow happily chomping. Yet you explain that you own that fruit standand have not stolen anything. In giving this kind of explanation, youare offering a justification for your action—you are claimingthat despite appearances to the contrary, your taking the pear wasmorally permissible. Offering justifications is commonplace in ourmoral lives. But justification and forgiveness ought to bedistinguished. When conduct is justified, this implies that theconduct was not morally wrong. But when conduct is forgiven, there isno such implication. Indeed, in most cases (if not all), what we areforgiven for are the morally wrong things we do. This is why it can beoffensive when someone says that she forgives you when you have donenothing wrong.

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What, then, is forgiveness according to Butler? Griswoldclaims that Butler’s forgiveness involves two aspects: (1) theforswearing of revenge; and (2) a moderation of resentment toan appropriate level (2007: 36). Yet according to Ernesto Garcia,“Butlerian forgiveness simply amounts to being virtuouslyresentful by avoiding both excessive and deficient resentment againstour wrongdoers” (2011: 17). On Garcia’s interpretation,Butlerian forgiveness seems to require no emotional change atall—one can be virtuously resentful without ever having beenviciously resentful. It is unclear whether Griswold thinks that Butlerwould require emotional change. If all that is required is thatresentment be kept in check, this could be done without it ever havingbeen excessive. On the other hand, if the requirement is that one mustgo through the process of moderating one’s resentment,this would require some kind emotional change (although not one thatwould require eliminating it entirely or even trying to do so).

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Narrative Essays On Forgiveness - 653286 - Vowing in 2

We can call the first kind of condoning—the one that involvesaccepting and not disapproving ofconduct—A-condonation. We can call the second kind ofcondonation—the kind that involves disapproving of buttolerating conduct—D-condonation. A brief discussion canhelp us to see how each differs from forgiveness.

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In the recent decades, forgiveness has enjoyed a significant increasein empirical attention (McCullough, et al. 2000: 6, 7). Importantearly work during this time included papers by Boon and Sulsky (1997),Darby and Schlenker (1982), and Weiner, et al. (1991). Yet even afterdecades of sustained empirical enquiry, psychologists remain dividedabout how forgiveness ought to be defined. The “major issuecharacterizing this new science of forgiveness”, EverettWorthington writes, “has been how forgiveness ought to bedefined” (2005: 3).

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Some reject these claims about the relationship between theforbearance of punishment, instead finding “no clash betweenpunishment and forgiveness” (Mabbott 1939: 158; cf. Haber 1991,Murphy 2003: 101; O’Shaughnessy 1967). For further discussion ofthe relationship between punishment and forgiveness see Griswold(2007: 32–33), Pettigrove (2012: 117–121), Russell (2016),Tosi and Warmke (2017); and Warmke (2011, 2013).