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Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration

Nearly everyone has wronged another. Who among us has not longed to be forgiven? Nearly everyone has suffered the bitter injustice of wrongdoing. 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. ~ Product Description • “Rarely has a philosopher offered his fervent students and readers such depth, knowledge and sensitivity as Charles Griswold has done in this volume that deals with one of the most urgent topics facing humankind today.” ~ Elie Wiesel

Table of Contents

    • Acknowledgments     ix
    • Prologue     xiii
    • Forgiveness Ancient and Modern     1
    • Pardon, Excuse, and Forgiveness in Ancient Philosophy: The Standpoint of Perfection     2
    • Bishop Butler’s Seminal Analysis     19
    • Resentment     22
    • Forgiveness     31
    • Forgiveness at Its Best     38
    • Forgiveness, Revenge, and Resentment     38
    • Resentment and Self-Respect     43
    • To Be Forgiven: Changing Your Ways, Contrition, and Regret     47
    • Forgiving: A Change of Heart, and Seeing the Offender and Oneself in a New Light     53
    • The Conditions of Forgiveness: Objections and Replies     59
    • Atonement and the Payment or Dismissal of a Debt     60
    • Forgiveness as a Gift and Unconditional Forgiveness     62
    • Praiseworthy Conditional Forgiveness     69
    • Moral Monsters, Shared Humanity, and Sympathy     72
    • Moral Monsters     73
    • Shared Humanity and Fallibility, Compassion, and Pity     77
    • Sympathy     83
    • The Unforgivable and the Unforgiven     90
    • Forgiveness, Narrative, and Ideals     98
    • Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Friendship     110
    • Imperfect Forgiveness     113
    • Ideal and Non-ideal Forgiveness: An Inclusive or Exclusive Relation?     113
    • Third-Party Forgiveness     117
    • Unilateral Forgiveness: The Dead and the Unrepentant     120
    • Forgiving the Dead     120
    • Forgiving the Unrepentant     121
    • Self-Forgiveness     122
    • For Injuries to Others     123
    • For Injuries to Oneself     125
    • For Injuries One Could Not Help Inflicting     128
    • Forgiveness and Moral Luck     130
    • Political Apology, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation     134
    • Apology and Forgiveness Writ Large: Questions and Distinctions     135
    • Political Apology among the One and Many     146
    • Many to Many Apology: Test Cases     147
    • The University of Alabama and the Legacy of Slavery     147
    • Apology, Reparations, and the Wartime Internment of Japanese-Americans     152
    • Desmond Tutu and South African Churches     157
    • King Hussein in Israel     159
    • The United States Senate and the Victims of Lynching     161
    • One to Many Apology: Two Failures     163
    • Robert McNamara’s War and Mea Culpa     163
    • Richard Nixon’s Resignation and Pardon     165
    • Traditional Rituals of Reconciliation: Apology, Forgiveness, or Pardon?     167
    • Apology and the Unforgivable     172
    • Apology, Forgiveness, and Civic Reconciliation     174
    • A Culture of Apology and of Forgiveness: Risks and Abuses     180
    • Political Apology, Narrative, and Ideals     183
    • Truth, Memory, and Civic Reconciliation without Apology     195
    • The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: An Interpretation     201
    • Reconciliation without Apology?     206
    • Epilogue     211
    • Bibliography     215
    • Index     233