Back to RJ Archive

Reconciliation or reconstruction? Further thoughts on political forgiveness.

Cahan, Jean Axelrad
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) Polity. 45(2)174-197.

Over the past decade a substantial literature has emerged on the concept of political forgiveness and the process of restorative justice. This article argues that importing an idea of forgiveness into political affairs is a mistake. It is not necessary for the promotion of peace and security, and it is has been construed in a way that leans heavily toward Christian conceptions of forgiveness, as is evident in the influence of Desmond Tutu. The article also examines the influence of Hegelian recognition theory in current discussions of the political benefits of forgiveness, and reviews the case of postwar German-Jewish relations, which conformed more closely to traditional Jewish thinking on forgiveness than to the Christian-Hegelian (multicultural) model.(authors’ abstract)


Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now