For Community's Sake: A (Self-Respecting) Kantian Account of Forgiveness

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Abstract
This paper sketches a Kantian account of forgiveness and argues that it is distinguished by three features. First, Kantian forgiveness is best understood as the revision of the actions one takes toward an offender, rather than a change of feeling toward an offender. Second, Kant’s claim that forgiveness is a duty of virtue tells us that we have two reasons to sometimes be forgiving: forgiveness promotes both our own moral perfection and the happiness of our moral community. Third, we have a duty to withhold forgiveness if with think forgiveness will cause or encourage our offender to wrong us again. This duty to sometimes withhold forgiveness stems from our duty of self-respect, which Kant repeatedly describes as a duty to ourselves to ensure that we are not harmed again.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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2011-07-18

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