An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics

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An Ethic for Enemies: Forgiveness in Politics

When conduct is excused, this entails that the agent who so acted is not morally responsible and blameworthy for that conduct. It is often claimed that a necessary condition for forgiveness is that the wrongdoer is morally blameworthy for her conduct see, e. Perhaps this is true although see Gamlund But we need not insist, as a matter of conceptual necessity, that forgiveness requires that agents be morally blameworthy in order to show how forgiveness and justification are distinct. For even if there are certain cases in which one can be forgiven for non-culpably having done wrong say, in moral dilemma cases , this does not change the fact that forgiven agents can be morally responsible and blameworthy but that agents who are excused are not morally responsible and blameworthy.

There are many ways to respond to wrongdoers who are blameworthy for their conduct. One such way is to condone their conduct Hughes What is it to collaborate in the lack of censure of an action? Griswold makes two suggestions:. We can call the first kind of condoning—the one that involves accepting and not disapproving of conduct—A-condonation. We can call the second kind of condonation—the kind that involves disapproving of but tolerating conduct—D-condonation.

A brief discussion can help us to see how each differs from forgiveness. In order to forgive, however, the victim must represent the putative recipient of forgiveness as one who did something morally wrong or bad or vicious. The forgiver, by contrast, does not paper over wrongdoing—she is prepared to blame, but forgoes it.

Two other considerations help distinguish condoning from forgiving. First, under typical circumstances, we can condone actions that are not wrongs against us Haber 59— We cannot, however, at least in typical circumstances, forgive others for their wrongs against others. Second, while we forgive agents for their conduct or perhaps their characters , when we condone, we condone the conduct or the character.

And to pardon a wrongdoer often seems indistinguishable from forgiveness, perhaps especially in cases of minor wrong. However, the concept of pardon also refers to a familiar and important legal and political power quite unlike forgiveness. In the United States, for example, the President has the authority to grant pardons for federal offenses, and state governors may pardon crimes against the state.

Although reasons for exercising the power of pardon often mimic those given for forgiving wrongdoers, one clear difference between pardon and forgiving is that the former is typically exercised by third-parties as opposed to the victims of wrong. As discussed below, standard philosophical views maintain that there are good reasons for thinking that, with one important exception, third-party forgiveness is impossible, inasmuch as forgiveness is the prerogative or right of the victim of wrong. Another difference is that a central idea in the legal and political concept of pardon is that of an offer that must be accepted in order to accomplish its partial or complete end, such as mitigation of a criminal punishment via commutation of a prison sentence Bingham First, manifestations of mercy, but not forgiveness, are essentially overt.

Forgiveness, however, is not necessarily overt. It is possible to forgive privately; indeed philosophical discussions of forgiveness have focused predominantly on its private manifestations. Second, mercy is third-personal in a way that forgiveness is not. A boss may reprimand an employee for telling an inappropriate joke in the lunchroom even though termination would be justified and the boss herself is not personally offended by it.

Here, a third-party shows mercy, and does so we may presume justifiably. But forgiveness, if it is ever third-personal, is not third-personal in this way. Barring exceptional circumstances, you cannot forgive me for the offense I caused to a co-worker—you simply lack the standing to forgive me for my offense to her. Mercy is not paradigmatically second-personal in this way. Third, mercy is often if not always connected to authority in a way that forgiveness is not.

It is natural to think that in order for S to show mercy to P, S must be in some kind of position of authority over P. Interpersonal forgiveness, however, is tied to no such authority structures. When we are wronged, this typically damages our relationship with the wrongdoer.

Minor offenses might put strains on relationships that put burdens on both persons involved; serious offenses might lead the victim to terminate the relationship altogether. Further, when we blame others for their wrongs against us, we often do so at the cost of causing further relational damage. We might withhold expressions of good-will, or alter our behavior in ways that make clear that we no longer trust the other.

Although in many cases forgiveness will be accompanied by reconciliation, it is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for forgiveness. One reason for thinking that reconciliation is not necessary for forgiveness is that the offending party may be, for whatever reasons, unwilling to reconcile.

But the fact that I am unwilling to restore our relationship does not, all by itself, make it impossible for you forgive me for the wrong I did to you. In other cases, reconciliation is practically impossible. Perhaps I have secretly moved to Fiji and you have no way to get in touch with me. You can forgive me whether or not you know I am in Fiji. Doing so might expose one to additional psychological damage, for example. Neither does reconciliation appear to be sufficient for forgiveness. Relationships may be restored, at least to some degree, for purely pragmatic reasons.

All things being equal, reconciliation is the goal to which forgiveness points. Although there are reasons that sometimes make reconciliation impossible or unwise, forgiveness is oriented towards promoting pro-sociality and friendly relations McCullough , In some cases, this might mean that the end of forgiveness is to repair a relationship to its ex ante state. In some cases, however, only partial reconciliation may occur.


Common conceptions of forgiveness make clear that its main purpose is the re-establishment or resumption of a relationship ruptured by wrongdoing. Maintaining or perpetuating personal relationships is one of the clearest and most important ends of forgiveness, though not the only important one. Forgiving those who wrong us often helps us move beyond strong negative emotions which, if allowed to fester, could harm us psychologically and physically.

Forgiveness benefits wrongdoers, as well, by releasing them from the blame and hard feelings often directed toward them by those they wrong, or helping them transcend the guilt or remorse they suffer from having done wrong, thereby allowing them to move forward in their lives. These ends of forgiveness may be regarded as in general enabling in the sense that they show how forgiveness sometimes helps people move beyond the wrongs they endure or cause and the sometimes debilitating effects those wrongs have on wrongdoers and victims alike.

For some, forgiveness has these forward-looking benefits because of the way it transfigures the past.

It is standard to assume that not just anyone can forgive a wrongdoer for a certain wrong. If I lack standing, then forgiving is not on the table for me; I am not a candidate for forgiving. And so to doubt whether someone has standing to forgive is not to doubt whether someone succeeded in forgiving. Rather, it is to doubt whether that person can forgive in the first place. Who has standing to forgive? Jeffrie Murphy expresses such a view when he says that.

I do not have standing to resent or forgive you unless I have myself been the victim of your wrongdoing. I may forgive you for embezzling my funds; but it would be ludicrous for me, for example, to claim that I had decided to forgive Hitler for what he did to the Jews. I lack the proper standing for this.

An Ethic for Enemies: Forgiveness in Politics - Donald W. Shriver - Google книги

Thus, I may legitimately resent and hence consider forgiving only wrong done to me. On this view, only those who have been directly wronged have standing to forgive. Suppose Alfred lies to Betty. Betty is thereby directly wronged by Alfred. Betty therefore has direct standing to forgive.

Suppose, however, that Alfred lies to Betty and this results in Betty being very late in picking up her brother Todd. Alfred did not lie to Todd, but by lying to Betty, there is a straightforward sense in which this resulted in a wrong being done to Todd. Here, while we can say that Betty was directly wronged and so has direct standing to forgive, it is not true that Todd was directly wronged by Alfred. And because it would be fitting for Todd to blame Alfred, and for Alfred to apologize to Todd, it is plausible to think that Todd also has standing to forgive Alfred.

Call this indirect standing. Though controversial, it may be possible to have standing to forgive while lacking either direct or indirect standing. Such standing is implicated in cases where one person forgives on behalf of someone else who has or would have had direct or indirect standing. Supposing that Maria has direct standing to forgive her assailant, if it is possible for Ted to forgive the assailant on behalf of Maria, he is able to do so in virtue of possessing what we may call proxy standing.

Finally, consider third-party standing. The standing to forgive that would accrue to such a person, Griswold says, would be to put it in our above terminology of the direct or indirect variety, depending on how the case is fleshed out. We identify as third-party standing what both Glen Pettigrove and Margaret Urban Walker have in mind in their recent discussions of third-party forgiveness. Such cases, Walker writes, involve. This putative standing to forgive, therefore, is not reducible to any of the aforementioned varieties: the forgiver was not wronged by the offender directly or indirectly , she does not forgive herself, and she does not forgive on behalf of anyone else.

It is widely thought that forgiveness is fundamentally a matter of how one feels about another. Hughes Broadly speaking, emotion accounts of forgiveness claim that forgiveness is best understood as fundamentally a change in emotion. According to such views, were you to be wronged, your forgiving the wrongdoer fundamentally involves your overcoming or abating, or eliminating, or forswearing some relevant negative emotion e. Among the various emotion accounts, however, there is significant disagreement on two main points: 1 about which specific emotions are implicated in forgiveness; and 2 about what must be done with those emotions in order to forgive.

We survey emotion accounts by taking these two issues in turn. One way to differentiate between the varieties of emotion accounts is according to the emotion or set of emotions that are thought to be relevant to forgiveness. A cursory survey of the forgiveness literature might give one the impression that there is widespread agreement about which emotion is crucially implicated in forgiveness. That emotion is resentment. Kekes ; Radzik ; and Zaibert But any impression of wholesale agreement would be mistaken for two reasons. First, some emotion theorists argue that overcoming resentment is neither necessary nor sufficient for forgiveness.

Such emotion theorists hold that in forgiving there are other emotions that may or must be overcome. And second, even among those who hold that overcoming resentment is either necessary or sufficient for forgiveness, there is disagreement about what resentment is. It is difficult to know what exactly these characterizations of resentment amount to, what kinds of relations hold between them, and perhaps most importantly, which view is correct.

Indeed, this is one of the more troublesome aspects of the philosophical literature on forgiveness: while it is commonly thought that forgiveness crucially implicates resentment, there is no such consensus about what resentment is contra Holmgren And as we have already noted, even though resentment is widely thought to be the central or paradigmatic emotion that forgiveness implicates, not all emotional accounts accept that view. So here is a rough and ready way of categorizing the various emotion accounts as regards the set of relevant emotions that forgiveness implicates.

Examples of such emotions include the feelings of malice, spite, or ill-will that might arise as a response to being wronged. The minimal emotionalist can allow that there are lots of negative emotions that one might experience upon being wronged e. Alternatively, let moderate emotionalism be the view that in order to forgive, one must overcome both hostile retributive feelings and what we may call moral anger.

According to moderate emotionalism, overcoming hostile feelings is not enough for forgiveness. One may harbor moral anger towards a wrongdoer so the view goes without thereby wishing that she suffers for what she did. But both moral anger and hostile feelings must be given up in order to forgive. Paul Hughes defends something like moderate emotionalism. As Hughes notes, not all anger is moral; if you are angry because a bird drops a gift on your head, your anger is non-moral for it is not constituted by a belief that the bird has done you a wrong.

But because resentment is, according to Hughes, a paradigm case of moral anger, it must be overcome in order for one to forgive. Charles Griswold also appears to have in mind a kind of moderate emotionalism:. In this respect his view differs from Garrard and McNaughton, who do target those emotions that involve desires to inflict suffering on the wrongdoer. Finally, let expansive emotionalism be the view that in order to forgive a wrongdoer, the victim must overcome all negative emotions that the victim has towards the wrongdoer on account of the wrongdoing in question.

In recent work, Jeffrie Murphy has also endorsed a more expansive emotionalism. Although he once argued that forgiveness ought to be construed narrowly as the overcoming of resentment, Murphy has now, citing the influence of Richards and others, become more ecumenical, writing that we should. The set of emotions that victims might possess in response to being wronged by another agent therefore form a large and diverse landscape.

But what kind of changes must occur? Writers on forgiveness often speak of the overcoming of resentment. In doing so we follow precedent e. We therefore want to know what kinds of changes are at issue with respect to each of these claims, and what relations hold between them? Does, for example, overcoming resentment entail that one has totally eliminated it? There are at least two facts about the relevant notion of overcoming about which most emotion theorists seem to agree. First, emotion theorists have been keen to clarify that it is not just any kind of elimination of resentment that is at issue.

Were you accidentally to fall and hit your head on a rock, thereby causing your resentment to be eliminated, you would not have forgiven. Or if your resentment simply withered away over the years via a process outside of your control or ken, it is widely thought that you would not have forgiven cf. Horsbrugh What kinds of reasons? Sometimes the right kinds of reasons are claimed to be specifically moral reasons Murphy 16; Griswold But here, we should be careful to distinguish between two different questions.

One question is a conceptual one, concerning what kinds of motivating reasons make forgiveness possible at all. But another kind of question, a normative one, concerns what motivating reasons make forgiveness, on any given occasion, appropriate or permissible or praiseworthy. If Murphy is right, then it appears that one cannot forgive because one wanted to win a bet. This raises questions as to how moralized our conception of forgiveness ought to be. Should our account of forgiveness require that in order to forgive, one must do so for only moral reasons?

Or could one forgive for merely prudential reasons Ingram ? We will return to this issue below. Even when one eliminates resentment for the right reasons, it is possible to do so using the wrong kind of process. Forgiveness therefore must have the right kind of history. It has seemed to many that taking the resentment-eliminating pill does not qualify as forgiving even if one were to take the pill for the right kinds of reasons. Still, many questions remain. First, which processes of overcoming the relevant emotions are the right ones?

For discussions of this judgment-based approach to how forgiveness overcomes resentment see Zaragoza , Nelkin , and Warmke Blustein argues that overcoming the relevant emotions should be understood as involving a certain kind of forgetting. Second: need the relevant emotions be eliminated completely or perhaps only moderated, and what are we to say if the relevant emotions return perhaps unbidden, perhaps not at some point in the future?

One might, for example, hold that a forgiver must eliminate all traces of the relevant negative emotion s. It is uncommon to find this view stated explicitly, but Haber has attributed to it to some philosophers 7. Others have claimed that what is needed is not the total and final elimination of resentment, but rather, some sort of moderation. Margaret Holmgren, for example, allows that resentment can reoccur:. By overcoming her negative feelings at the time she forgives, the victim does not necessarily eliminate these feelings without a trace. They may recur from time to time throughout her life.

However, once she has determined that forgiveness is the appropriate attitude towards her offender and has overcome her negative feelings towards him, it will presumably be possible for her to conquer these feelings again if they do recur. Thus we can plausibly say that the victim has forgiven her offender when she first overcomes her resentment towards him. There is also a strand of discussion in the forgiveness literature that crucially implicates the forswearing of resentment or some other attitude or behavior.

Strawson claims:. The difference between overcoming and forswearing or renouncing some attitude is not usually made explicit. Sometimes the terms appear to be used interchangeably. The implication is that forswearing as an act of renunciation is something one does straightaway, whereas overcoming is not.

One may forswear resentment by making a decision or making a commitment, but to decide to give up or commit to eliminate resentment does not imply that one has or will overcome it. Bishop Joseph Butler is commonly cited as the progenitor of emotion accounts. Butler does indeed make clear that resentment and forgiveness are importantly related, and his interpreters have often attributed to him the view that forgiveness is the forswearing or overcoming of resentment Murphy 15; Haber 16; Holmgren Garcia and others have convincingly argued, however, that Butler did not advocate the Renunciation Model, for he advocated neither of these two theses Garcia ; Griswold 19—37, and Newberry Consider the claim that Butler held that resentment is a response to injury that is incompatible with good-will and therefore forgiveness.

What Butler actually says, however, is that forgiveness is perfectly compatible with an attitude of resentment. Butler held that resentment helps us to deal with those who harm us: it motivates us to insulate ourselves from wrongdoers, and it motivates us to deter future wrongdoing via punishment. When resentment has these ends it serves the public good and is therefore compatible with the general obligation to good-will [IX. Therefore, resentment as such is compatible with good-will. Butler does say that resentment can be dangerous, but it is not resentment as such that is the problem.

But to let resentment carry one this far is to violate a general obligation to benevolence. To forgive, then, is simply to prevent resentment from having this effect on us. Resentment itself is natural and innocent. It is only when it is indulged and allowed to bleed into revenge that a violation of goodwill occurs. But this is the work of forgiveness: to prevent resentment from leading us to seek revenge. Therefore, Butler does not think that forgiveness is the forswearing or overcoming of resentment. What, then, is forgiveness according to Butler?

It is unclear whether Griswold thinks that Butler would require emotional change. If all that is required is that resentment be kept in check, this could be done without it ever having been excessive. Other approaches to forgiveness claim that there is an important connection between forgiving and punishment.

On these punishment-forbearance views of forgiveness, forgiving crucially implicates the forbearance of punishment. According to these views, when one forgives one commits not to hold a past wrong against someone and so the story goes were one to punish, doing so would be to hold a past wrong against the wrongdoer.

Punishment-forbearance accounts may come in a variety of flavors, depending on how one understands the logical relations between forgiving and forbearing punishment see, e. One could hold that forbearing punishing is necessary for forgiveness, or sufficient, or both. Alternatively, one could make a normative claim about the relations between forgiveness and punishment: forgiving a wrongdoing makes future punishment for that wrong morally inappropriate see, e. For further discussion of the relationship between punishment and forgiveness see Griswold 32—33 , Pettigrove — , Russell , Tosi and Warmke ; and Warmke , A further stage is required, however, for even after the first stage, one might still hate the wrongdoer and hatred, according to Hampton, is incompatible with forgiveness.

Forgiving, therefore, is accomplished when one successfully goes through both stages. The views of forgiveness canvassed thus far have, by and large, focused on forgiveness as a private phenomenon, involving, for example, a change in emotion.

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To see what Haber and his followers have in mind, we need a bit of background. Austin called attention to two ways to understand what we do when we speak. In the first instance, we can think of an utterance simply as a locutionary act, which is simply the act of uttering a sentence with a certain sense and reference. But we do not typically utter sentences simply for the sake of uttering sentences. We also ask questions, make demands, warn of threats, persuade detractors, express our preferences, inter alia.

Austin suggested that in addition to the performance of the act of uttering a sentence, we may also perform an act in uttering a sentence, what he called illocutionary acts. The locutionary act is the utterance of the sentence itself. The illocutionary act might be one of simply communicating a desire, or it might be one of in a different context ordering a sandwich at the deli counter.

An Ethic for Enemies: Forgiveness in Politics

Haber focuses on a class of illocutionary acts that Austin called behabitives,. Austin Speech acts may also function as commissives , which have the illocutionary force of committing the speaker to an action or a course of conduct. In doing so, the speaker places herself under an obligation to do or not do what she says she will do or not do. Used as a declarative, utterances or expressions may have the effect of to put it crudely changing reality in various ways.

By making such an utterance, one is actually able to make it so that a ship is christened or that one is found guilty. Such a declaration could release a wrongdoer from certain kinds of personal obligations to the victim such as further apology or restitution, remorse or penance Nelkin It might also function as a way for the victim to relinquish certain rights or permissions to continue blaming the wrongdoer Warmke b.

Three clarifications about performative accounts are in order. First, one need not think that performative forgiveness possesses only one kind of illocutionary force. Some hold that it can function as a behabitive, commissive, and declarative Warmke b. Pettigrove 17—8. Third, defenders of performative accounts need not think that only speech acts e. Cognate communicative acts, gestures, and facial expressions may achieve the same result Swinburne Some philosophers have argued that forgiveness is just too diverse and diffuse of a practice to be captured by a simple, singular theory.

Responding to the view that forgiveness is the same wherever it occurs, William Neblett writes that. The key thought to which Adams draws our attention is that the phenomena counting as forgiveness can be understood as possessing an interior dimension or an exterior dimension and sometimes both cf. In the recent years, the topic of self-forgiveness has drawn considerable attention see, e.

Indeed, it does seem a commonplace that people claim to forgive themselves both for wrongs they commit against others, and for self-directed wrongs in the form of some sort of personal failure or shortcoming, such as violating a commitment to another person; or failing to adhere to a diet. Although there seems to be no logical reason to think self-forgiveness as overcoming various forms of self-directed moral reactive attitudes such as disappointment or disgust is fundamentally unlike interpersonal forgiveness, there are significant differences between the two.

First, and notwithstanding the fact that people may be angry with themselves, experience self-directed loathing, and struggle to overcome such negative emotional attitudes, it is not clear that the idea of resenting oneself is coherent and, thus, whether forgiveness as overcoming self-referential resentment is possible, at least on certain accounts of forgiveness. This is because resentment in the sense at issue requires such cognitions as that the wrongdoer is a moral agent and the victim a moral subject whose rights are in some way violated by a wrongdoer.

That one and the same person is involved simultaneously as agent and subject, wrongdoer and victim, in this drama is often thought incompatible with the idea that resentment is necessarily directed at other people Arendt Nancy Snow argues that self-forgiveness serves two important self-regarding purposes though see Hughes Second, it constitutes a second-best alternative to full interpersonal forgiveness, in the sense that when full interpersonal forgiveness is not forthcoming and there can be many reasons for this , self-forgiving is nevertheless an important and sometimes morally appropriate response to having done wrong.

This is because there is some question whether the differences between divine and human forgiveness are so significant that any comparison between them is inapt. As one author puts the point,. The difference between the human and the divine should not be underestimated, and it is possible that it would not just be over optimistic but actually dangerous to expect people to model their behavior on God.

Tombs If divine forgiveness is possible, what is its nature?

Love Your Enemies: Retribution and Forgiveness

What kind of emotional changes might be at issue? For many, the obvious candidate will be resentment. Login Register. Advanced search Search history. Browse titles authors subjects uniform titles series callnumbers dewey numbers starting from optional. See what's been added to the collection in the current 1 2 3 4 5 6 weeks months years. Your reader barcode: Your last name:. Cite this Email this Add to favourites Print this page. You must be logged in to Tag Records. Shriver, Jr. In the Library Request this item to view in the Library's reading rooms using your library card.

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Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other First Nations people are advised that this catalogue contains names, recordings and images of deceased people and other content that may be culturally sensitive. Book , Online - Google Books. Revenge, the End of Politics; and Justice, the Beginning. Thucydides: The Triumph Fury in War. Forgiveness in Politics in Christian Tradition. Jesus - The Discoverer" of Social Forgiveness? The Political Context of Jesus' Ministry. Forgiveness as Community Building in the New Testament. Political Ethics as Moral Memory.

An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics
An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics
An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics
An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics
An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics
An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics
An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics An ethic for enemies: forgiveness in politics

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