This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2016-2017

POLS 13181-7: Forgiveness in Politics

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Instructor: Daniel Philpott

The principle of forgiveness has enjoyed little place in the political thought and practice of the modern state, where it has been marginalized as religious and appropriate only for personal relationships. One of the surprising and dramatic developments in global politics over the past generation, then, has been the rise of forgiveness. Does forgiveness in fact belong in politics? Can it transform hatred? Or does it disrespect victims, lead to trauma, and reflect weakness, as its critics say? If forgiveness is in fact constructive and just, what makes it so? The seminar will examine these and other questions through readings in political science, political philosophy, theology, and numerous case studies ranging from the German holocaust to South Africa’s recent transition to democracy.