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Self-Love and Forgiveness: A Holy Alliance?

Patrick McKinley Brennan

Villanova University School of Law

July 1, 2009

FORGIVNESS, Darlene Weaver, ed., Forthcoming
Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2009-19

Forgiving is not pardoning, excusing, condoning, forgetting, or reconciling, nor is forgiving just about a change in emotions on the part of a victim. This paper pursues a virtue-theoretic account of the human person in the context of the theology of Thomas Aquinas, arguing that human forgiveness is the form love takes by an offended toward her offender. The paper argues, first, for the priority of the offended person's self-love and, second, for such self-love's extension into love of the offender as another self. The paper explores in depth the challenges of seeing one's enemy as "another self." Forgiving, the paper argues, is the most important act a person performs, because it is an act no one else can perform for us. This has negative implications for its possibility in the criminal law. The argument is developed, in part, in dialogue with contemporary theorists such as Jeffrie Murphy, Joanna North, Charles Griswold, Timothy Jackson, and Gaelle Fiasse.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 37

Keywords: forgiveness, love, self-love, justice, offense, virtue, happiness, reconciliation, Aquinas, criminal law, similarity, equality

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Date posted: July 1, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Brennan, Patrick McKinley, Self-Love and Forgiveness: A Holy Alliance? (July 1, 2009). FORGIVNESS, Darlene Weaver, ed., Forthcoming; Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2009-19. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1428512

Contact Information

Patrick McKinley Brennan (Contact Author)
Villanova University School of Law ( email )
299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States
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