Topic: Retribution and Forgiveness. Retribution and forgiveness are often seen as very different responses to wrongdoing, as contrasted by the descriptions “an eye for an eye” and “turn the other cheek.” But what, exactly, do we mean by “retribution” and “forgiveness”? And what should we think about the moral appropriateness of each response? Is one of them right and the other wrong? If so, is one always right and the other always wrong? Or does the morally appropriate response in a given case depend upon the facts of that case? Or is neither one ever a morally appropriate way to respond to wrongdoing? Or is there an alternative, better way to respond to wrongdoing?
In this course, we will consider some of the different philosophical conceptions of retribution – or attitudes in favor of retribution, such as a desire for revenge – and forgiveness, and as well some of the philosophical arguments for and/or against some of those conceptions as morally appropriate responses to wrongs.
TEXTS: Getting Even: Forgiveness and its Limits, Jeffrie Murphy; Moral Repair: Reconstructing Moral Relations after Wrongdoing, Margaret Urban Walker.