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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 35, Issue 1, Spring 2021

John Kleinig
Pages 83-96

Forgiveness and Unconditionality

If forgiveness is to be seen as a virtuous act, it must satisfy certain conditions. For many, those conditions are construed narrowly and must involve some change of heart on the part of the wrongdoer who is to be forgiven: remorse, apology, a willingness to provide recompense, and so forth. Such an account is usually characterized as one of conditional forgiveness. Others construe the conditions differently—not eschewing remorse and apology, but neither always requiring it—and see those conditions as those relevant to exercises of generosity, love, mercy, gifting and grace. Such an account is usually characterized as one of unconditional forgiveness. The present essay attempts to remove some of the resistance to unconditional forgiveness.