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Forgiveness: Moral Prerogative or Religious Duty?

Paul Lauritzen
The Journal of Religious Ethics
Vol. 15, No. 2 (Fall, 1987), pp. 141-154
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40015063
Page Count: 14
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Forgiveness: Moral Prerogative or Religious Duty?
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Abstract

Philosophers have sometimes drawn a distinction between supererogation and duty. This paper considers the possibility that a religious understanding of hu- man life and history may require what would otherwise be considered praise worthy but not obligatory. The specific example here is forgiveness. The paper sketches a view of forgiveness and suggests that forgiveness is not, at least in contemporary (secular) Western thought, considered to be a moral obligation. Several reasons why this might be the case are considered as well as how par- ticular Christian beliefs about God's justice and mercy may transform this situa- tion. The paper concludes that given certain religious beliefs, forgiveness may be both moral prerogative and religious duty.

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