Justice is a virtue and so, many claim, is forgiveness. But they seem inconsistent. Is forgiveness really a virtue?
Many thanks to all of you who called during Tuesday's Philosophy Talk (May 3). We very much appreciated your interest! There are a number of fascinating issues we touched upon, and some we did not. Among the latter is the relationship between interpersonal forgiveness and political forgiveness. For an example, see the front page story in the NYT (April 18, 2005) about a traditional forgiveness "ritual" currently being practiced in Uganda. It is explicitly meant as an alternative to the more familiar procedures of criminal justice (proposed actions by the International Criminal Court are mentioned in the article). The offenders go through a ritual that includes dipping their right toe in a raw egg (the symbol of innocent life, we're informed) and paying some sort of reparation. After several such steps, they are accepted back into the community, in spite of horrific injuries they may have inflicted. So this comes to something like pardon. One of their victims expresses deep disagreement with this process, indicating that she's not forgiven her attackers at all--first they need to be punished. Question: is this ritual of reconciliation really about _forgiveness_ at all, or about something else? Do forgiveness and justice clash? Necessarily clash?
John Perry's "To Blog is to Forgive?" is helpful in formulating an answer to these questions.