Forgiveness or Fairness?

Philosophical Papers 44 (2):233-260 (2015)
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Several philosophers who argue that forgiveness is an important virtue also wish to maintain the moral value of retributive emotions that forgiveness is meant to overcome. As such, these accounts explicate forgiveness as an Aristotelian mean between too much resentment and too little resentment. I argue that such an account ends up making forgiveness superfluous: it turns out that the forgiving person is not praised for a greater willingness to let go of her resentment, but rather for her fairness or good judgment. I conclude by arguing that the virtue of fair-mindedness is more compatible with maintaining the value of the retributive emotions than the virtue of forgiveness

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Krista Thomason
Swarthmore College


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