Volume 82, 2008
Karen D. Hoffman
Forgiveness without Apology
Defending Unconditional Forgiveness
In the following paper, I argue that, although there are conditions that the injured person must satisfy in order to be properly said to have forgiven a wrongdoer, it is a mistake to believe that there are conditions that the wrongdoer must satisfy in order for it to be morally permissible to forgive her. Against arguments that a wrongdoer should only be forgiven if she has met specific conditions, I maintain that unconditional forgiveness may be a morally appropriate response to being wronged.
After discussing what it means to forgive someone and examining two attempts to defend unconditional forgiveness (by appealing to respect for persons and to human solidarity), I appeal to Søren Kierkegaard’s Works of Love to argue for a different reason to forgive unconditionally: because one loves the wrongdoer and wants to convey that love, perhaps in the hope that doing so will inspire repentance and apology.