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The Impossible Demand of Forgiveness

Gormley, Steven (2014) 'The Impossible Demand of Forgiveness.' International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 22 (1). pp. 27-48. ISSN 0967-2559

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Drawing on Jacques Derrida?s work, I argue that neither of the two standard accounts of forgiveness offer an adequate understanding of forgiveness. Conditional accounts insist on specifying the conditions an offender needs to satisfy in order to count as deserving of forgiveness. I argue that such accounts not only render forgiveness unintelligible (since forgiveness is intelligibly offered only to the offender qua offender), but also dissolve the ethical decision forgiveness demands of us. Unconditional accounts promise to do justice to both by insisting that forgiveness is a freely granted gift offered to the guilty as guilty. But I argue that when pressed to justify why one should forgive unconditionally and how one avoids the threat of condoning, they typically fall back onto the conditionalist?s ground and lose the electivity of forgiving. I conclude by arguing that genuine forgiveness would have to be purely unconditional but could never appear as such.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: aporia; conditional; Derrida; forgiveness; repentance; unconditional
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2014 14:51
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:24

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