This suggests that when someone accepts a meaningful apology, it is because the deficit of disrespect has been made good by the apology, and thus forgiveness can be forthcoming. Forgiveness indeed involves some revision in judgment, as Hieronymi argues. It is this objective, expressed disrespect that is made good in apology, not any subjective feeling of being morally diminished. Following an apology, personal relations will normally be restored as well. However, it is not possible to have this intimate restoration of personal relations without first restoring the more generic moral relationship.
Apology does this because the wrongdoer distances herself from the wrong action by morally condemning it and, by dissociating herself from wrongdoing she avoids complicity and acquiescence. Of course, in certain cases of wrongdoing it may be decided that, given the situation, it is better if people continue to be estranged from one another. In these cases there is a sense in which the relationship is not totally restored, as the individuals feel they cannot be intimate again as friends.
Sacrifice of Forgiveness
Nevertheless, apology does its job as moral respect is equalized even in this case: it is possible in forgiveness to restore the moral relationship and decide not to restore the personal relationship. So far, I have argued that in forgiving the victim acknowledges that the offender has made good the deficit of respect. I will now argue that forgiveness further involves a commitment to repair relations with the wrongdoer.
This commitment is justified by the fact that the wrongdoer, by apologizing, has made good the existing deficit of respect, and in so doing has restored the moral equality that was lost in wrongdoing. Thus, earned forgiveness acknowledges that respect relations between the victim and the wrongdoer have been restored and this, in turn, is followed by a commitment to repair relations with the wrongdoer.
Sacrifice of Forgiveness
My account solves the puzzle of forgiveness because the victim continues to believe that the wrongdoer is culpable for the wrong done, but the balance of respect between the two has nonetheless been restored. Earned forgiveness is justified by moral reasons: forgiveness is appropriate following an apology because the respect score was changed so victim and wrongdoer are on a par again. It is also committed to the view that negative feelings of resentment need be totally overcome in forgiveness.
I can count as forgiving you and I can sincerely communicate my forgiveness to you even if my heart has not quite caught up with the emotional perspective I have committed to. This is because at an expressed level there has been an equalization of moral relations between us. That is to say, the deficit of respect that you brought about by wronging me, you have now made good again by apologizing, and therefore I can acknowledge this in forgiving you. The moral relationship is restored in apology and in forgiveness primarily at the expressive level through a declaration that each party is equally morally worthy.
This can be done symbolically by admitting that the victim was not treated with the due respect, however, in many cases, the offender should also compensate the victim for the inconvenience caused or any material harm brought about by the wrongdoing. Further, it is important to make good the experienced deficit of respect, both when the victim is not emotionally affected by the wrongs against her, and even when the victim continues to feel diminished for an unduly long time. We can do justice to the fact that forgiveness is grounded in moral reasons if we argue that what gives us good moral grounds to forgive is not the alleviation of a sense of threat or the fact that the wrongdoer has undergone humiliation in begging for forgiveness Murphy , but making good an objectively existing deficit of respect caused by the wrong done.
My view of wrongdoing and forgiveness fits very well with an existing account of apology proposed by Bovens I have argued that apology is an appropriate response to the acceptance that one is a wrongdoer, for the purposes of correcting for the disrespect expressed. I have also claimed that apologies do more than merely signal the extinguishing of a threat.
Apologies have reason-giving powers: they justify forgiveness. I suggest that we can make sense of the claim that apology can equalize the level of respect by understanding apology as a speech act whose illocutionary point is that of affirming respect for the victim. Bovens uses an example from Kant to illustrate this idea. Imagine a case where a rich offender, in apologizing, kisses the hand of the victim who is lower in social status. Thus, for Bovens, it is a necessary condition for a successful apology to show excess respect to the victim.
Contrary to what Bovens suggests, we cannot literally make up the deficit by quantitatively adding a bit more respect so that the victim is not in deficit anymore. Let us now see why an apology has force. Apologies typically involve four elements 19 :.
The acceptance that one has done wrong. An admission that the wrongdoer did not treat the victim with the due respect. Self-blame involves repudiating the wrong done by committing the wrongdoer not to repeat the moral offence. For moral wrongs that result from characteristic bad behaviour, 22 self-blame means that one is committed to change the character traits that made possible the moral offence. Further, the disposition not to repeat the moral offence is part of the sincerity conditions of a successful apology, and this partly explains why the balance of respect is restored following a sincere apology.
Apologies imply a certain sort of moral risk. The wrongdoer takes a risk by giving the victim the opportunity and the power to decide whether the wrongdoer can be accepted back as a person worthy to associate with on equal footing. Bovens claims that by transferring this power to the victim, the wrongdoer expressively pays excess respect to the victim. They commit the offender to repair the harm the inconvenience caused, etc. At first, this claim may seem counterintuitive. Now suppose that later on, A changes his mind and decides, nevertheless, to invite B to the conference as a plenary speaker, but with no intention to apologize.
Does not this make good the deficit of respect, even if A has not apologized? The forms of expressing and communicating an apology are not fixed—what is important is that an apology be expressed in some way or another, no matter whether it is done through deeds or words. The wrongdoer has to show respect to the victim with regard to that particular wrongdoing , by admitting that he was wrong about that offence.
A can only make good a particular deficit of respect if A invites B to the conference in order to make up for the fact that A has wronged B with that particular offence in mind.
If it simply happens that A invites B to the conference because there are not enough speakers, then it is not an apology and it has not made up the deficit of respect because it is not making up the deficit of respect caused by that insult. A has to make up for the deficit of respect to B in relation to that offence which caused the deficit in the first place.
So it seems that apology is effective in forgiveness because it can be related to the victim in the right way: the wrongdoer shows the victim due respect by admitting wrongdoing. Apology is an act where the offender relates to the victim in a respectful way, as she should have done in the first place. Consider for example a self-indulgent way of showing regret about a particular wrong.
She has now changed to the extent that she cannot believe that she could have behaved so abhorrently. She is now ashamed because she thinks this is not how a decent person should treat people.
She regrets her old character but she fails to consider how much she has offended you in particular she is not focused on the deficit of respect caused by her insult and so she never apologizes. Similarly, imagine a case where the same friend is repentant before God. She cares about not having followed her obligations toward God at the expense of a proper acknowledgment of you, as her victim.
She might have a grasp of the seriousness of the situation but, again, fails to appreciate how much she has hurt the victim. Although your friend has provided you with evidence that she has changed, you might reasonably feel offended by her failure to apologize and you might consider it inappropriate to forgive her. The wrongdoer has failed to earn forgiveness in these cases precisely because the offender is not properly focused on the deficit of respect caused by that particular offence.
The deficit of respect which needs to be made up for is a specific deficit of respect caused by that wrongdoing. It is not about net levels of respect which could be counterbalanced in different ways. It is not just a matter of showing the victim you respect her generally, but of addressing and engaging with the particular insult which was expressed in the wrong done.
When A invites B to the conference, it shows that A has enough respect for B to do that. Maybe A has changed his mind about B and he thinks B is a good person to invite. However, it still does not redress the balance of respect as it does not address the initial insult. On the other hand, we can see that it does not make it clear enough that it is that particular wrong that needs to be made good, and not just net levels of respect.
An apology needs to be communicated to the victim in some form in order to earn forgiveness my justified belief that my friend is sorry for betraying me is not enough to earn my forgiveness. This is because the force of an expressed apology is that it is performative, and thus it expressively corrects for the balance of disrespect. When we apologize we change the moral relation with the victim and our commitments toward her the wrongdoer commits to repair relations with the victim by affirming the fact that she is owed better treatment from us.
There is an important difference between forgiving and reconciling.
This suggests that apology is the appropriate frame for communicating our remorse as it encourages proper, non-corrupt forms of remorse. As I have argued, it is properly focused on the victim and on the wrong done to the victim, and thus it can achieve its point of expressing the moral respect owed to the victim, in relation to the specific deficit caused by the wrongdoing. There are, of course other ways that forgiveness might be justified, but not earned, by the wrongdoer.
So apology is not the only justification for forgiveness, but it is the only way that the wrongdoer has the power to give the victim a reason to forgive. I have proposed to understand earned forgiveness as a commitment to repair relations with the wrongdoer, grounded in a change of judgment, where that change of judgment is a response to the fact that the wrongdoer has corrected the balance of respect by making up for the disrespect expressed by the wrong done. The normative account I have defended does justice to the fact that forgiveness is sensitive to moral reasons; the wrongdoer apologizing to the victim justifies it.
Finally, my account can explain the reason-giving power of apologies in forgiveness: they make good the particular deficit of respect expressed by the wrong done. By way of concluding I would like to consider a possible objection to my account.
When Forgiveness Doesn't Make Sense: Robert Jeffress: - tohusantonon.tk
Hallich has recently argued that there is an inherent paradox involved in every case of apology, which undermines the moral status of apologies. For Hallich, when a wrongdoer apologizes, she also necessarily asks to be forgiven. The wrongdoer is himself indignant about what he has done and he himself wants to repudiate his wrongdoing.
But if he accepts that the negative feelings against him are still justified, then he should not ask the victim to relinquish them. This is how Hallich describes the paradox of apologies:. By apologising, the offender tries to bring about a state of affairs which, if genuinely repentant and remorseful, he has no reason to want to bring about.
A wrongdoer may hope to achieve forgiveness, but without necessarily demanding it.