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Varieties of Reconciliation

Meierhenrich, Jens
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) Law and Social Inquiry 33:195ff

Drawing on this new conceptualism, this article analyzes the much talked about notion of “reconciliation.” … Conceptualization
involves moving from a “background concept” to a “systematized concept” (529). … With this in mind, I
propose the following systematized concept of reconciliation: reconciliation refers to the accommodation of former
adversaries through mutually conciliatory means, requiring both forgiveness and mercy, where forgiveness connotes
the forswearing of resentment, “the resolute overcoming of the anger and hatred that are naturally directed toward a
person who has done one an unjustified and non-excused moral injury” (Murphy 1988a, 15), and mercy connotes the
extension of an act of compassion to the undeserving person who has committed an unjustified and nonexcused moral
injury. … By making forgiveness and mercy an integral part of the systematized concept, my conceptualization draws
attention to the mutually conciliatory means necessary for reconciliation, and the voluntary nature of the process. … In
the parlance of King, Keohane, and Verba (1994, 110), tolerance as an indicator is far from the concept of reconciliation
and has only an indirect and uncertain relationship to it. (Excerpt)


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