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Book Review

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Review of Glen Pettigrove, Forgiveness and Love (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). xvi + 174pp., ISBN 978-0-19-964655-5.

Hannah Arendt famously called forgiveness ‘redemption from the predicament of irreversibility—of being unable to undo what one has done’ (The Human Condition, p. 212). Because right action is not always easy to discern, and when discerned not always easy to enact, we are all likely to be repeatedly in need of forgiveness—of extending it and receiving it. Forgiveness, then, would seem to play an enormously important role in sustaining relations among people, at both the individual and the societal levels—a truth reflected in recent philosophical interest in the concept, and in attempts to bring forgive-ness to bear in the political realm (e.g. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission). In this helpful volume, Glen Pettigrove, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Auckland, carefully elucidates ‘the nature of forgive-ness, the conditions that make it possible, and the norms by which it is governed’ (p. xiii). In doing so, he makes a compelling case that forgiveness is a more diverse concept than is typically acknowledged in philosophical literature, and, therefore, can be an appropriate action in a wider range of circumstances than is sometimes allowed.


Originally published in Studies in Christian Ethics

Volume. 27, Number. 3 (2014), 374-377.

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