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The Justice of Forgiveness


  • Daniel Philpott

Daniel Philpott, University of Notre Dame, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, 100 Hesburgh Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556,


Over the past generation, forgiveness has entered the political sphere in countries all over the globe that are addressing the past injustices of war, dictatorship, genocide, and the maltreatment of native peoples. Among the international community, however, the practice is controversial, criticized as unjust for burdening victims and foregoing deserved punishment. This essay argues that forgiveness is not contrary to justice but rather reflective of it if justice means restoration of right relationship, a concept embedded in the scriptures and traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Conceived of in this way, forgiveness can avoid the potential injustices with which it is charged and contribute positively to the reconstruction of political orders.