Self-Love and Forgiveness: A Holy Alliance?

FORGIVNESS, Darlene Weaver, ed., Forthcoming

Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2009-19

37 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2009

Date Written: July 1, 2009


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.

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

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:

Patrick McKinley Brennan (Contact Author)

Villanova University School of Law ( email )

299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics