Unilateral Forgiveness and the Task of Reconciliation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
900 Downloads (Pure)


Although forgiveness is often taken to bear a close connection to the value
of reconciliation, there is a good deal of scepticism about its role in situations where there is no consensus on the moral complexion of the past and no admission of guilt on the part of the perpetrator. This scepticism is typically rooted in the claims that forgiveness without perpetrator acknowledgement (1) aggravates the risk of recidivism; (2) yields a substandard and morally compromised form of political accommodation; and (3) comes across as patronizing and offensive to the recipient, thereby causing further alienation. In this article, my aim is to show, firstly, that none of these arguments is decisive and, secondly, that forgiveness is a suitable object of political concern in the
absence of cross-community consensus on the rights and wrongs of a conflict. In this way, I aim to demonstrate that forgiveness deserves to be taken seriously as a means to civic reconciliation in a broader range of situations than many have allowed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-42
Number of pages24
JournalRes Publica
Issue number1
Early online date15 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Forgiveness, reconciliation, repentance, moral disagreement


Dive into the research topics of 'Unilateral Forgiveness and the Task of Reconciliation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this