Doctor of Philosophy
The end of this dissertation is to demonstrate why, from a moral perspective, individual agents who have suffered from deep harm ought to be empowered to hold on to their resentment, and why they must not be encouraged, forced, or coerced into reconciliation with wrongdoers. This dissertation offers a moral defense of resentment. On the view that I defend, resentment has not only prudential value—this is already claimed elsewhere—but also, under certain conditions, resentment has a distinctive moral value. I argue that there are cases where resentment may be normatively required even when other “values” are within reach, such as forgiveness. This dissertation argues that morality sometimes requires that victims of wrongdoing be given the option to continue to resent wrongdoers, and that the grounds of this lies specifically in the agent’s duty to resent.There are at least two major consequences of my view. First, my view both directly and indirectly challenges influential existing accounts of forgiveness in Anglo-American philosophy whose valuing of forgiveness in part turns on the devaluing of resentment. Thus, in Chapters 1 and 4, I answer deontological theories of forgiveness which suggest that there are always overriding moral reasons for agents to forgive. In Chapter 1, I answer virtue-based theories of forgiveness that emphasize the importance of an individual agent’s striving to forgive whenever it is possible to do so. And in Chapter 3, I answer consequentialist theories of forgiveness that claim that forgiveness produces superior individual and social outcomes. The second upshot of this project is that it provides a starting point for defending resentment in social and political contexts, especially those dealing with issues of restorative justice.
Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Ramacus-Bushnell, Desiree Gabrielle, "The Limits of Forgiveness and the Merits of Resentment" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1650.