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Forget Forgiveness

On the Benefits of Sympathy for Political Reconciliation

Nir Eisikovits

The work of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has generated a great deal of interest in the role of forgiveness in politics. More specifically, it has raised the question of whether forgiveness should be a constitutive part of reconciliation processes between groups. In this paper, I argue that it should not, and that it might be both more useful and more realistic to consider something like Adam Smith’s notion of ‘sympathy’ instead. The first part examines the arguments for and against policies promoting political forgiveness. The second part suggests sympathy as an alternative. The third part considers and rejects some objections to the employment of sympathy in this context.

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Patrick Lenta

My purpose in this paper is to assess the plausibility of three claims asserted by Wilhelm Verwoerd in his book Equity, Mercy, Forgiveness: Interpreting Amnesty within the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2007) in support of the granting of amnesty by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Amnesty in this context refers to conditional amnesty: immunity from prosecution and punishment, conditional upon the full disclosure by perpetrators of the details of their wrongdoing, extended to individuals who had committed gross human rights violations between 1 May 1960 and 10 May 1994. Verwoerd rehearses several arguments that have previously been advanced in support of conditional amnesty, but his original contribution consists in asserting three claims concerning its moral status. These are that the granting of amnesty: (1) satisfies the demands of equity; (2) constitutes an act of mercy; and (3) amounts to forgiveness of perpetrators. I seek to show that, considered separately, each of these claims is false and that, asserted together, they are inconsistent.

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Returning to the Source

Revisiting Arendtian Forgiveness in the Politics of Reconciliation

Sam Grey

The idea of forgiveness is omnipresent in the transitional justice literature, yet this body of work, taken as a whole, is marked by conceptual, terminological and argumentative imprecision. Equivocation is common, glossing moral, theological, therapeutic and legal considerations, while arguments proceed from political, apolitical and even antipolitical premises. With forgiveness as a praxis linked to reconciliation processes in at least ten countries, concerns have grown over its negative implications for the relationship between the state and victims of state-authored injustices. Many of these debates reference Hannah Arendt. Drawing from a range of Arendt’s published and unpublished work, this article challenges the academic claim that forgiveness has no place in the politics of reconciliation. Through this ‘returning to the source’, it presents a promising mode of thinking about political forgiveness in contemporary Settler-colonial states.

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To Punish or to Forgive?

Responding to Dirty Hands in Politics

Cristina Roadevin

How should citizens respond to dirty-hands acts? This issue has been neglected in the theoretical literature, which has focused on the dilemma facing the politician and not on the appropriate responses of citizens. Nevertheless, dirty-hands scenarios pose a serious dilemma for the democratic citizens as well: we cannot simply condone the dirtyhanded act but should instead express our moral condemnation and disapproval. One way of doing this is through blame and punishment. However, this proposal is unsatisfactory, as dirty-hands agents commit wrongdoing through no fault of their own. I argue that we ought to make conceptual space for an idea of no-fault responsibility – and a corresponding notion of no-fault forgiveness – according to which we can hold agents to obligations without blaming them.

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Rianna Oelofsen

reconciliation, and their respective meanings from an Afro-communitarian worldview. So, what exactly does Tutu refer to when he claims that there is an ‘African understanding of justice?’ In his book No future Without Forgiveness , Tutu writes, … there is

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Wiping away the Tears of the Ocean


Mogobe Ramose

experience of the ethics of restoration, reparation and forgiveness affirming the oneness of our humanness in need of truth, justice and peace. In memory of flowing water, the Atlantic Ocean, having served as the vehicle of the slave trade from Africa

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Conceptualizing Compassion in Communication for Communication

Emotional Experience in Islamic Sermons (Bengali waʿẓ maḥfils)

Max Stille

mother affects the communicative and emotional position of the believer: according to the analogy, the believer best approaches Allah as a desperate and crying child asking for forgiveness. The overflow of motherly love, as well as a possible lack of

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Ananta Kumar Giri

directly responsible for this and have not been found guilty in the courts of law. 10 As a poet knows, the courtyard of heart is a more authentic and a more capacious space of judgment, justice, forgiveness, and reconciliation than the court of law, even

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Relational Ethics and Partiality

A Critique of Thad Metz’s ‘Towards an African Moral Theory’

Motsamai Molefe

without Forgiveness . New York : Random House . 10.1111/j.1540-5842.1999.tb00012.x van Niekerk , J. 2007 . ‘ In Defence of an Autocentric Account of Ubuntu ’, South African Journal of Philosophy 26 : 364 – 368 . Wiredu , K. 1992 . ‘ Moral

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Christina Oesterheld

number of occasions. Their tears may be provoked by political tragedies as well as by a personal loss, or even by “forgiveness and pity” ( ʿafū aur raḥm ) 101 for killed enemy soldiers. Their emotionality is not interpreted as weakness as long as it does