Forgiveness and Reconciliation

In Kathryn J. Norlock (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Forgiveness. London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 117-134 (2017)
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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).

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Barrett Emerick
St. Mary's College of Maryland


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