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Freedom and Forgiveness

Dana Kay Nelkin
All your life you’re told forgiveness is for you. But we’re never told why it’s for you. It means you’re working on owning your life.
Shani Tran
Therapist and Founder, The Shani Project
Forgiveness is nothing less than the way we heal the world. We heal the world by healing each and every one of our hearts. The process is simple, but it is not easy.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
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Freedom and Forgiveness

Dana Kay Nelkin
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open access
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In this paper, I begin with a familiar puzzle about forgiveness, namely, how to distinguish forgiveness from excuse on the one hand and “letting go” on the other. After considering three recent and influential accounts of forgiveness that offer answers to this challenge among others, I develop an alternative model of forgiveness as a kind of personal release from debt or obligation. I argue that this model has a number of distinct advantages, including offering a new explanation of the subtle connections between forgiveness, resentment and perspective taking, as well as helping to provide plausible answers to normative questions such as whether forgiveness is ever morally required. Finally, I draw connections between the debate about forgiveness and the debate about free will, and suggest one way in which the compatibility of forgiveness and understanding of an action’s causes can illuminate the debate about the compatibility of freedom and determinism.

Non-Region Specific
Mental Health Professionals
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