, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 1099–1124 | Cite as

Punishment, Forgiveness and Reconciliation

  • Bill WringeEmail author


It is sometimes thought that the normative justification for responding to large-scale violations of human rights via the judicial appararatus of trial and punishment is undermined by the desirability of reconciliation between conflicting parties as part of the process of conflict resolution. I take there to be philosophical, as well as practical and psychological issues involved here: on some conceptions of punishment and reconciliation, the attitudes that they involve conflict with one another on rational grounds. But I shall argue that there is a conception of political reconciliation available which does not involve forgiveness and this forms of reconciliation may be the best we can hope for in many conflicts. Reconciliation is nevertheless likely to require the expression of what Darrell Moellendorf has called ‘political regret’ and the denunciatory role aspect of punishment makes it particularly well-suited to this role.





Earlier versions of this paper were given at a workshop on Punishment, Forgiveness and Reconciliation at the MANCEPT workshops in Political Theory in September 2014 and at Forgivness and Reconciliation VIII in Dubrovnik in May 2015.I am grateful to the organisers of those workshops for the opportunity to present my work, to the audiences on those occasions for feedback and to Monica Mookherjee and William von Bulow for encouraging me to present my work in these venues. I'm especially grateful to Paula Satne, both for organising the MANCEPT workshop, and for her encouraging remarks on a number of earlier versions of the paper, without which I would have been lost.  I also received valuable written comments from Jack Woods, Sandrine Berges, Katie Stockdale, Fragano Ledgister, David McNaughton, and Janet Brennan Croft. I should also mention the contributions of an anonymous referee for this journal whose comments on a number of ealier versions strongly influenced the content and form of the final version of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyBilkent UniversityAnkaraTurkey

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