There are two restorative ideas related to forgiveness. One is restoration of an impaired relationship between an offender and a victim. Serious wrongdoing doesn’t just harm the interest of the victim; it also harms the relationship between the offender and the victim. Forgiveness is predominately about healing the impaired relationship. The other is restoration of the victim’s sovereignty once breached by the wrongdoing of the offender. A wrongdoing that impairs a relationship and breaches sovereignty is paradigmatically a combination of harm (to the victim’s interests) and offense (to the victim’s emotions). It is insult added to injury. Forgiveness is about overcoming the insult on top of coping with the injury.
Avishai Margalit is Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In his research he focusses on social and political philosophy, the philosophy of religion and culture, and the philosophical implications of social and cognitive psychology. He is also a highly-regarded observer of the conflicts between Israel and Palestine and commentator on the relations between Islam and the West. He has written a considerable number of books including The Decent Society (1998); Idolatry (1998); The Ethics of Memory (2004); Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of its Enemies (2004); and, more recently, On Compromise and Rotten Compromises (2009). He is the winner of the 2012 Ernst Bloch Prize in philosophy.