, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Human Fallibility and the Need for Forgiveness

  • Claudia BlöserEmail author


This article proposes a Kantian account of our reasons to forgive that situates our moral fallibility as their ultimate ground. I explore similarities and differences between Kant’s account in the Doctrine of Virtue and the more recent account offered by Garrard and McNaughton (Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 103(1), 39–60, 2003). After tracing the connection between moral fallibility and moral luck, I discuss Kant’s argument for a duty to be forgiving. Kant’s strategy yields a plausible account of the normative status of forgiveness: Although we generally have a moral reason (a “wide duty”) to forgive others, forgiveness is not required in every case of wrongdoing. Kant’s argument is based on the assumption that we are all in need of forgiveness, the nature of which I go on to explain. Forgiveness has the power to relieve us of a burden that results from moral failure, which grounds both its standing as a duty and its importance in the lives of fallible moral agents.


Forgiveness Moral luck Moral fallibility Wide duty 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Goethe University FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany

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