Murphy and Novitz hold the position that someone wrongfully injured by others should respond with resentment, which is protective of one’s self-respect
Write a short paper of not more than 900 words on one of the following topics. Conduct your discussion in a way that shows an understanding of the relevant readings, and include references to the readings whenever appropriate, placing the citations in footnotes.
Murphy and Novitz hold the position that someone wrongfully injured by others should respond with resentment, which is protective of one’s self-respect. Under appropriate conditions, such as when the offender has repented, forgiveness is in place, and according to Novitz forgiveness is a complex task that takes effort. For both Murphy and Novitz, forgiveness is a virtue in that it is desirable to forgive under the appropriate conditions, but to forgive too easily is to show insufficient self-respect.
Consider the following two-part objection to their position:
“(1) When wrongfully injured, the victim can respond with righteous anger and can take appropriate corrective action. To the extent that her response goes beyond righteous anger, the additional elements in her response are always problematic, taking such forms as hatred or vengefulness. So, if resentment involves some additional element in the victim’s response that goes beyond righteous anger, resentment is itself problematic and one should not respond with resentment. (2) Furthermore, even if we concede that resentment can be an appropriate response, resentment should ideally dissipate on its own when the appropriate conditions that justify forgiveness are met (e.g., the offender has repented). Even if it does not, we should transform ourselves into the kind of person for whom resentment will naturally dissipate under such conditions, in which case there is no need to undertake efforts to forgive the offender. So, ideally, there should not be any need for forgiveness, and forgiveness cannot be a virtue.”
Do you agree with this objection, and why? Critically discuss.
The Confucians advocate a transformation of the person so that one is totally committed to the ethical ideal and regards one’s following the ethical path as of greater significance than any other condition of life. By undertaking such a transformation, one will be in a state of le and can accept the adverse conditions of life without being perturbed by them.
Consider the following two-part objection to the Confucian position:
“(1) There are certain endeavors that the Confucians regard as part of the ethical ideal, such as providing support for parents, working toward the moral transformation of others, and political endeavors geared toward making the Way prevail. If one fails in one’s efforts, it seems odd to say that one can accept one’s failure and maintain a state of le because one knows that one has done one’s best ethically. To take such a stance is to attach greater significance to one’s doing what is ethically proper than to actually accomplishing the goals of one’s ethical endeavors. (2) This objection carries a special force in instances in which one can bring about something to the public good by adopting some means that in normal circumstances would be ethically problematic. By insisting on not so acting and as a result failing to bring about such good, it seems that one is more concerned about one’s own ethical qualities than about the public good. One is, so to speak, being ‘ethically self-indulgent’ in an objectionable manner.”
Do you agree with this objection, and why? Critically discuss.
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