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Publication Details

Forgiveness in Politics: Reality or Illusion?

(Original title: Odpustenie v politike: realita alebo ilúzia?)
Filozofia, 75 (2020), 7, 596 – 611.
Type of work: Articles
Publication language: Slovak

There are opposing views on the question of whether forgiveness makes sense as a political act. The main focus of the study is the debate about forgiveness among francophone philosophers. Some authors agree with the idea of transferring forgiveness to the domain of politics, while others have a hesitant or even negative attitude. The aim of the article is to examine the main arguments for and against each position and to find out which of the opposing views provides stronger arguments, or whether there is another defensible alternative. A key point in the dispute over forgiveness in politics is the question of whether forgiveness can be used as a strategic political tool, and, at the same time, maintain its meaning, its moral value. With regard to the resolution of this dispute, the author of the article questions the possibility of mixing two different levels: the political-legal level (to which “the politics of forgiveness” is linked) and the ethical level, which is the actual domain of forgiveness as a non-political and non-legal relationship. According to the author, thinking about forgiveness as a political tool is based on wrong reasoning. It presupposes the possibility of playing on two tables at the same time: pursuing the collective, political purpose of forgiveness, and at the same time wanting to preserve its character as a personal relationship between the offended and the offender, the victim, and the perpetrator. The author defends the view that forgiveness cannot be politically institutionalized or confused with terms belonging to the political-legal domain (such as political reconciliation or amnesty) unless its meaning is devalued.


Forgiveness, Jacques Derrida, Paul Ricœur, Pierre Hazan, Politics of forgiveness, Reconciliation, Sandrine Lefranc, Transitional Justice, Vladimir Jankélévitch

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