XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

For Community’s Sake: a (Self-Respecting) Kantian Account of Forgiveness

Kate Moran

Edificio: Palazzo dei Congressi
Sala: sala Newton
Data: 26 maggio 2010 - 17:00
Ultima modifica: 13 aprile 2010


This paper sketches a Kantian account of forgiveness that gives us new insight into our reasons for forgiveness and the acts or feelings entailed by forgiveness. I argue that this Kantian account is distinguished by three features. First, forgiveness is best understood as the revision of the actions one takes toward an offender, rather than a change of feeling toward an offender. Second, Kant’s claim that forgiveness is a duty of virtue tells us that we have two reasons to be forgiving: forgiveness promotes both our own moral perfection and the happiness of our moral community. Third, we have a duty to withhold forgiveness if we think forgiveness will cause or encourage our offender to wrong us again. This duty to sometimes withhold forgiveness stems from our duty of self-respect, which Kant describes as a duty to ourselves to ensure that we are not harmed again.