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Forgiveness and the Problem of Repeated Offences

Couto, Alexandra (2022) Forgiveness and the Problem of Repeated Offences. The Journal of Applied Philosophy, 39 (2). pp. 327-345. ISSN 0264-3758. E-ISSN 1468-5930. (doi:10.1111/japp.12562) (KAR id:91825)

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According to the dominant account of forgiveness, to forgive is to overcome the reactive attitudes warranted by a wrongdoing. On one version of this ‘reactive attitudes’ account, forgiveness involves cognitive dissociation, while on another it involves affective dissociation. In this paper, I will argue that reflection on cases of repeated offences—where a wrongdoer is forgiven but then keeps repeating an offence—raises two challenges to this account of forgiveness. First, I will argue that, on either way of developing the account, it has the implausible implication that those who forgive must avoid considering the forgiven wrongdoing in their deliberations. Second, I will argue that the reactive attitude account of forgiveness is vulnerable to the objection that it is epistemically vicious. But the reactive attitudes account of forgiveness needn’t be abandoned: I will propose several ways in which the account can be revised or clarified in order to address the problem of repeated offences.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/japp.12562
Uncontrolled keywords: Forgiveness, Reactive Attitudes, Emotion, Wrongdoing, Domestic Abuse
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Department of Philosophy
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Alexandra Couto
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2021 21:49 UTC
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2023 00:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Couto, Alexandra:
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