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Title: A Philosophy of Political Forgiveness
Issue Date: 2-Apr-2018
Citation: DENISE GOH HUI JUN (2018-04-02). A Philosophy of Political Forgiveness. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: After World War II, there was increasing interest in new ways of responding to the lingering effects of divisive conflicts, and governments began to use the language of apology and forgiveness to facilitate national reconstruction and restore interstate relations. Observing the pragmatic intentions behind such political forgiveness, Jacques Derrida posits a pure forgiveness unburdened by ulterior motives in his essay, On Forgiveness. Nevertheless, although Derrida recaptures the risk and uncertainty inherent in the act of forgiving, he excludes reconciliation from his structure. He also characterises acts of political forgiveness as performative, and therefore as falling short of the demanding standard of true forgiveness. My aim in this thesis is to find a place for political forgiveness in Derrida’s understanding of the concept. As I will argue, reconciliation does not taint the pure act of forgiving but maintains it. Moreover, contrary to what Derrida seems to argue, governments may have the moral legitimacy to forgive in particular circumstances. If we examine his claims carefully, Derrida himself seems to imply – unintentionally or otherwise – that true forgiveness is possible in the political sphere. By reinterpreting Derrida’s argument, I demonstrate how political forgiveness can be genuine and in fact harbours significant transformative potential.
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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