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A moral philosophy

Forgiveness and Its Moral Dimensions

Brandon Warmke, Dana Kay Nelkin, Michael McKenna

Oxford University Press, 2021

Research details

Type of paper: Theoretical/Conceptual/Review

Open Access: No


What is to forgive someone? Is it primarily a change in one’s emotions, in one’s behavior, or something else? What is the connection between forgiveness and blaming attitudes like resentment? What is the relationship between forgiveness and free will? The chapters in this book explore not only these questions about the nature of forgiveness but also questions about the norms of forgiveness. Is forgiveness necessarily gift-like, and thus always discretionary? Is forgiveness ever prohibited or required? What is the relationship between forgiveness and apology? Does love require us to forgive? How does one maintain self-respect when one forgives? Is it morally permissible to forgive people for doing evil? And what would a utilitarian theory of the norms of forgiveness look like? This volume contains entirely new chapters on forgiveness by some of the world’s leading moral philosophers. Some contributors have been writing about forgiveness for decades. Others have taken the opportunity here to develop their thinking about forgiveness they broached in other work. For some contributors, this is their first time stepping into the forgiveness literature. While all the contributions address core questions about the nature and norms of forgiveness, they also collectively break new ground by raising entirely new questions, offering original proposals and arguments, and making connections to what have until now been treated as separate areas within philosophy.