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The Southern Journal of Philosophy

Volume 45, Issue 2, Summer 2007

Bernard P. Dauenhauer
Pages 207-222

Responding to Evil

In this paper, I argue that moral and institutional evils, even though they are all contingent, are so pervasive and persistent that there is no practical way of responding to them that would lead eventually to the eradication of all of them. Instead, our practical task is to respond to these evils in ways that respect both the basic capabilities and their associated vulnerabilities that are constitutive of each human being. To do this most effectively, one should offer unconditional forgiveness to the perpetrators of evil. The attitude that can best underpin this forgiveness is one of a properly understood indefeasible hope, a hope that always insists that each person is of greater worth than whatever he or she does.

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