Forgiveness in Kierkegaard's ethic of neighbor love.
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Access changed 12-6-2010.
Howell, John Baker.
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I argue that Kierkegaard contributes to the contemporary philosophical discussion concerning forgiveness in at least two ways. First, he grounds his understanding of forgiveness in neighbor love so that neighbor love is a necessary condition for forgiveness. Second, he views forgiveness as morally obligatory. In the course of making these points, I review the current philosophical literature on forgiveness and explicate Kierkegaard's conception of neighbor love. I also defend his view of forgiveness against the objection that it condones wrongdoing, and in doing so compare Kierkegaard's view with that of Jacques Derrida and John Caputo. Finally, I argue that Kierkegaard's Christian commitments are essential to his understanding of forgiveness and that his understanding of forgiveness is superior to those in the contemporary philosophical literature because of those commitments. In doing so I consider the ethical status of Socrates and compare Kierkegaard's conception of forgiveness to that of Joseph Butler.