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Title: The Risky Business of Forgiveness
Abstract: Philosophers have begun to note a tension between two independently plausible features of forgiveness: (1) Forgiveness is reasoned: it is something that agents do for reasons, and (2) Forgiveness is elective: it is not something that agents can be required to do. As Per-Erik Milam (2018) has recently argued, if something is done for reasons, then those reasons can, at least sometimes, generate a requirement for an agent to do that thing. So, those who wish to defend both (1) and (2) must deny that reasons to forgive can be requiring. However, according to Milam (2018), moral reasons are typically able to generate requirements, so one who takes reasons to forgive to be non-requiring faces the difficult task of explaining why these reasons are unique amongst moral reasons. In this paper, I take up this challenge. I argue that forgiveness is reasoned and elective because it is risky. By reflecting on the riskiness of forgiveness, we can come to see not only how forgiveness can be both reasoned and elective, but also why forgiveness is not so unlike other attitudes that feature in our moral lives.