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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 35, Issue 1, Spring 2021

Derek R. Brookes
Pages 97-108

Moral Grounds for Forgiveness

In this paper, I argue that forgiveness is a morally appropriate response only when it is grounded in the wrongdoer’s demonstration of genuine remorse, their offer of a sincere apology, and, where appropriate, acts of recompense and behavioral change. I then respond to John Kleinig’s suggestion (in his paper “Forgiveness and Unconditionality”) that when an apology is not forthcoming, there are at least three additional grounds that, when motivated by virtues such as love and compassion, could nevertheless render “unconditional forgiveness” a morally laudable option. I argue that such grounds could indeed constitute or result in laudable responses to wrongdoing, but only if they are not conceived of or described in terms of forgiveness.