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A Philosophical Exploration

$30.99 (G)

  • Date Published: September 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521703512

$ 30.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • Nearly everyone has wronged another. Who among us has not longed to be forgiven? Nearly everyone has suffered the bitter injustice of wrongdoing. Who has not struggled to forgive? Charles Griswold has written the first comprehensive philosophical book on forgiveness in both its interpersonal and political contexts, as well as its relation to reconciliation. Having examined the place of forgiveness in ancient philosophy and in modern thought, he discusses what forgiveness is, what conditions the parties to it must meet, its relation to revenge and hatred, when it is permissible and whether it is obligatory, and why it is a virtue.

    • Unusual range of topics in its discussion from unexamined parts of the history of philosophy to modern political discussions of forgiveness
    • Genuine interdisciplinary appeal, while also being solidly grounded in philosophy
    • The first book length, comprehensive, philosophical discussion of forgiveness
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Rarely has a philosopher offered his fervent students and readers such depth, knowledge and sensitivity as Charles Griswold has done in this volume that deals with one of the most urgent topics facing humankind today."
    -- Elie Wiesel

    "Griswold’s arguments are deep, far-reaching and all the more effective for the many interesting examples, drawn from recent events and biographical accounts. He sets a paradigm before us, in which one person injures another, seeks forgiveness and then receives it...Griswold tells us much about forgiveness, about the mental processes involved in it, and the way in which interpersonal relations are shaped by it."
    --Roger Scruton, Times Literary Supplement

    "This carefully reasoned, highly insightful and beautifully written book is essential reading for anyone interested in forgiveness, apology and reconciliation, in the private or public sphere. Accessible to the general reader and practical politician as well as to scholars, it will undoubtedly set the parameters of debate on forgiveness and apology for years to come."
    -Geoffrey Scarre, Durham University, Times Higher Education Supplement

    "Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration is a masterful treatment of a central issue in moral philosophy. Well-written, penetrating, and rich in details, this book discusses a number of related topics including interpersonal forgiveness, political apology, pardon, and civic is clear that this book is a remarkable achievement that will undoubtedly shape, in enormously beneficial ways, future philosophical debates on the topic of forgiveness."
    --Ernesto V. Garcia, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

    "In the prologue to this carefully researched study of forgiveness, Griswold addresses his readers by asking who among us has not longed to be forgiven, struggled to forgive; then points to the psychological, political, and moral centrality of the concept of revenge for his analysis...Griswold sets forth six criteria for such forgiveness, discussing them in the context of related concepts such as economic forgiveness, the pardoning of debts, political and judicial pardon, and political apology...Inviting debate through its wide-ranging but probing treatment of these issues, the book contributes, as its subtitle indicates, to philosophical explanations in the tradition of Robert Nozick."
    Sissela Bok, Common Knowledge

    "One of the lessons of modernity is that there is no consolation in the human condition, unless perhaps it consists in somehow reconciling ourselves to evils so sublimely absurd that at each new moment they test our capacities for acceptance. In such a world, an understanding of forgiveness – the concept of it, the varieties, its human sources and limits – is more central to life than ever before. Charles Griswold's clearheaded and perceptive new book explores forgiveness both analytically and realistically, helping us toward all these forms of understanding."
    --Allen Wood, Stanford University

    "Forgiveness by Charles Griswold is a philosopher’s attempt to hone the complexity of interpersonal and political forgiveness to make them accessible. The book honors sources both historical and current, and while it is not primarily religious nor psychological it includes both as it integrates an enormous range of material with deep intelligence and insight. The book is well referenced, quite readable and taught me things about forgiveness I did not know."
    --Frederic Luskin, PH.D Director Stanford Forgiveness Projects, Author of Forgive for Good, Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project (

    "The book refers to virtually every recent writer on the topic [of forgiveness], which provides the reader with a guide to the literature...the writing is clear, and the topic is deeply important...Highly recommended."
    -R.T. Lee, Trinity College, Choice

    "Charles Griswold's Forgiveness is a truly wonderful book, which not only wisely and eloquently treats a significant feature of the moral life and moral psychology, but also sheds unexpected light on moral theory and the history of ethics. The book also includes a fascinating discussion of the role of apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation in political life during the last fifty years."
    --Stephen Darwall, University of Michigan

    "This in depth study of a topical issue will be accessible and of great interest to public library patrons as well as scholars, and it is highly recommended for both."
    --Leon H. Brody, Falls Church, VA

    "[A] carefully researched study of forgiveness."

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521703512
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 150 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.372kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Forgiveness ancient and modern
    2. Forgiveness at its best
    3. Imperfect forgiveness
    4. Political apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation
    5. Truth, memory, and reconciliation without apology.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Dynamics of Christian Community
    • Forgiveness and Reconciliation
    • Forgiveness in the Christian and Islamic Tradition
    • Seminar of the problem of evil
  • Author

    Charles Griswold, Boston University
    Charles L. Griswold is Professor of Philosophy at Boston University. He has been awarded fellowships from the Stanford Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the National Humanities Center. Winner of the American Philosophical Association's F. J. Matchette Award, he is the author and editor of several books, most recently Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment.

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