chapter  7
23 Pages

Forgiveness Without Blame


It is widely recognised in moral philosophy that there is only something to forgive in cases of unexcused and unjustifi ed wrongdoing.2 I will call this ‘the standard view’. According to this view, forgiveness presupposes that the person to be forgiven has done something that warrants blame and resentment. Excuses and justifi cations are generally thought to undermine grounds for blame and resentment, and therefore to rule out forgiveness. Typically, if a person has an excuse for her action, then she might acknowledge that what she did was wrong, but still reject any responsibility for it. She might point to factors about herself (e.g. insanity) or the situation (e.g. coercion or duress) that make it inappropriate for others to blame her for the action. If a person has a justifi cation for her action, then she may deny that she did anything wrong in the fi rst place. She might acknowledge that her action was wrong, at fi rst glance, and that it came with a moral cost or remainder, but nevertheless claim that it was the right thing to do, all things considered.