A gradualist approach to forgiveness and grudges


The goal:
To reconcile the following claims in tension:
Forgiveness must be granted, not earned (Jankélévitch, Calhoun)
Unconditional forgiveness entails condonation (Murphy, Griswold)

Premises:
Forgiveness involves the overcoming or extinction of reactive attitudes of sanction (Cazares 2020)
Reactive attitudes of sanction [RAS] come in degrees.
How much RAS an agent is justified to hold is directly proportional to the severity of the corresponding frustration of her expectations or trespassing
How much RAS an agent is justified to hold can be reduced by, among other factors, sincere apologies, regret and amends.
These factors also come in degrees, i.e., some apologies are better than others, some amends are larger than others, etc.

The claim:
What distinguished forgiveness from condonation is the degree of reactive attitudes of sanction overcome or extinguished in relation to the severity of the trespassing and the quality and presence of responses like sincere apologies, regret or amends. The quantity of RAS held must be lower than the quantity justified by the severity of the trespassing and the quality and presence of responses like sincere apologies, regret or amends but not too low, i.e., not lower than some threshold of condonation.

The Model:

Independent variables:
x = degree of RAS actually held
a = degree of severity of the trespassing
b = degree of quality of the sincere apologies, regret and amends.

Dependent variables:
j = degree of RAS one is justified to hold
k = degree of gratuity in the RAS

Constants:
F = function that determines the degree of justified RAS subtracted by the sincere apologies, regret, amends, etc.
n = threshold of condonation

From the premises we get
j = a+F(b)
k = j-x
An agent’s RAS are apt if x < j
An agent has forgiven a trespassing if n > k > 0

In other words:
For a reduction in RAS to count as non-condoning forgiveness, the quantity of RAS actually held (r) must be lower than (j) that justified by (a) the severity of the trespassing and (b) the quality and presence of responses like sincere apologies, regret or amends but not too low, i.e., not lower than some threshold of condonation (n).

We can easily graph the phenomenon on a two axis cartesian diagram, with the horizontal axis corresponding to (b) the quality of the attenuating actions – apologies, amends, regret, etc. – and the vertical axis to degrees of RAS. We can graph the maximal justified degree of apt RAS (j) as a curve descending from (a) the degree of severity of the trespassing [which can be considered fixed in order to have a two-dimensional projection], and the minimal justified degree of non-condoning RAS as a parallel curve n degrees below, so that the two parallel curve divide the logical space of possible degrees of RAS held regarding a trespassing of a degrees between a lower region of condonation, a middle region of forgiveness and an upper region for excessive resentment.

A brief note on function F

Function F most likely would be non-linear, but instead would show a steep attack reflecting facts like that there being amends at all is more important than the size of those amends, and a reducing slope reflecting the fact that after a while, making more amends or keep apologizing will have little or no effect.

Excvessive Resentment
To hold a grudge, overreact, etc. is the opposite of forgiving, i.e, showing RAS above what is justified by the trespassing, plus apologies, amends, etc.

An agent has a grudge, has overreacted, etc. if k < 0

This is what happens when you read Cazares article on forgiveness while also working on your own paper on gradualism. You might also need to love formal methods in philosophy as much as I do!

🙂

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