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Title: Forgiving the Unrepentant
Authors: Cowley, Cristopher
Keywords: forgivingwrongdoing action
Issue Date: 2000
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Cristopher Cowley, "Forgiving the Unrepentant", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, II (2000) 1
Series/Report no.: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
II (2000) 1
Forgiveness is one possible response by a 'victim' to a specific act of wrongdoing, especially when the 'wrongdoer' apologises and invites joint condemnation of the act ("I'm sorry, that was really stupid of me"), perhaps explaining the source of misjudgement or ignorance that brought it about. In this paper, however, I will ask what the victim can do when faced with an unrepentant wrongdoer, perhaps some-one who even refuses to acknowledge that a wrong act was committed or that the victim 'really' suffered ("stop complaining, I didn't hurt you!"). Importantly, I will ask if it is possible to forgive some-one just for being who they are - for example, estranged parents - without necessarily implying an attempt to resume a broken relationship. This will involve a conceptual analysis of the term as used in the situation, in parallel to a phenomenological analysis of how the victim is to come to see the wrongdoer and her act in order to forgive her. My account will stress two aspects of the 'wrongdoing situation' in order to relocate the problem rather than attempt to solve it - first, the wrongdoer's unique narrative history, and the more or less intelligible role played by the wrong act within such a self-understanding; second, the fundamental uncertainty of motive that lies at the heart of all human action and thus impedes one's ability to ever fully understand a wrong act, whether committed by others or by oneself.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1825-5167
Appears in Collections:Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2000) II/1

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