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Forgiveness and Retribution
Responding to Wrongdoing

$47.99 (C)

  • Date Published: February 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107695658

$ 47.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Forgiveness and Retribution: Responding to Wrongdoing argues that ultimately, forgiveness is always the appropriate response to wrongdoing. In recent decades, many philosophers have claimed that unless certain conditions are met, we should resent those who have wronged us personally and that criminal offenders deserve to be punished. Conversely, Margaret Holmgren posits that we should forgive those who have ill-treated us, but only after working through a process of addressing the wrong. Holmgren then reflects on the kinds of laws and social practices a properly forgiving society would adopt.

    • Systematic outline of a broad position on responses to wrongdoing
    • The method for this book is original: analyses of response to wrongdoings are generally either utilitarian or duty-based, and therefore this book provides a virtue-ethical approach to this issue and illustrates some surprising strengths of virtue ethics
    • Provides a theoretical foundation for much of the popular restorative justice movement
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Margaret Holmgren’s book is a daring attempt to defend a new paradigm of forgiveness that would radically reorient our attitudes toward those who wrong us and our way of thinking about punishment and criminal law. No doubt the discussion it provokes will be intense."
    George W. Harris, author of Reason’s Grief: An Essay on Tragedy and Value

    "Moral, political, and legal philosophers who prize theoretical unity and comprehensiveness will appreciate Margaret Holmgren’s new book, which begins with a foundational virtue ethic and from it systematically derives conclusions about how individuals and institutions should respond to wrongdoers. Holmgren’s work is probably the most thoughtful and thorough defense of an unconditional forgiveness approach to wrongdoers, one that critically responds to work by contemporary retributivists and that should give them pause. Of particular interest is the fact that Holmgren argues that principles such as respect for offenders and for victims, to which retributivists standardly appeal, are best interpreted in ways that support anti-retributivist conclusions, such as the restitutional approach to punishment for which Holmgren is rightly well-known."
    Thaddeus Metz, University of Johannesburg

    "Margaret Holmgren has written a very stimulating book on forgiveness…An additional virtue of her book is a discussion of forgiveness in the context of criminal punishment – a discussion in which she makes creative suggestions concerning the social and legal institutions that a truly forgiving society would adopt. I recommend that all those interested in a serious discussion of forgiveness read this book and ponder its many insights."
    Jeffrie G. Murphy, Arizona State University, author of the book Getting Even: Forgiveness and Its Limits

    "… This is a fine book defending a difficult thesis - that unconditional forgiveness of a wrongdoer is always appropriate, once the offended party has done a considerable bit of self-examination (which Holmgren explains in detail) … general readers will benefit from hearing what she has to say. Included are an ample bibliography and index … Recommended …"
    R. T. Lee, Choice

    "… Intended for a philosophical audience, her book lucidly lays out the arguments for her position and critically addresses the connections between her own work and the scholarly literature … her arguments are so clearly presented, with such a pleasing style, that her work should be accessible to a general, but well read, audience …"
    Kathleen Poorman Dougherty, Metapsychology Online Reviews

    "… forces us to think harder about predominantly retributivist and all-too-settled models of response to harm … It is a book for exercising one’s arguments, a service to philosophy."
    Philosophy in Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107695658
    • length: 310 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction and overview
    2. The nature of forgiveness and resentment
    3. The moral analysis of the attitudes of forgiveness and resentment defined
    4. The moral analysis of the attitudes of self-forgiveness and self-condemnation
    5. Philosophical underpinnings of the basic attitudes: forgiveness, resentment, and the nature of persons
    6. Moral theory: justice and desert
    7. The public response to wrongdoing
    8. Restorative justice: the public response to wrongdoing and the process of addressing the wrong.

  • Author

    Margaret R. Holmgren, Iowa State University
    Margaret Holmgren is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Iowa State University. She co-edited Ethical Theory: A Concise Anthology (2000) with Heimir Giersson.

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