Forgiveness, Repentance, and Diachronic Blameworthiness

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (4):700-720 (2022)
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Many theorists have found the notion of forgiveness to be paradoxical, for it is thought that only the blameworthy can be appropriately forgiven but that the blameworthy are appropriately blamed not forgiven. Some have appealed to the notion of repentance to resolve this tension. But others have objected that such a response is explanatorily inadequate in the sense that it merely stipulates and names a solution leaving the transformative power of repentance unexplained. Worse still, others have objected that such a response cannot succeed because no amount of repentance can render the blameworthy not blameworthy. I argue that this latter objection is based on a mistaken assumption, the acknowledgement of which has the power to resolve the paradox in a way that meets the explanatory adequacy challenge, and, more generally, has significant implications with which any full theory of forgiveness must engage.

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Andrew Khoury
Arizona State University


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