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Responsibility and Atonement$
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Richard Swinburne

Print publication date: 1989

Print ISBN-13: 9780198248491

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198248490.001.0001

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Guilt, Atonement, and Forgiveness

Guilt, Atonement, and Forgiveness

(p.73) 5 Guilt, Atonement, and Forgiveness
Responsibility and Atonement

Richard Swinburne (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In doing a wrong action, an agent acquires guilt, subjective, or objective; guilt is to be distinguished from shame (as merit is to be distinguished from pride). A wrongdoer must deal with his guilt by making atonement—i.e. by repentance and apology to the victim, and (often also) by making reparation and penance. It is good (though not obligatory) for the victim to forgive a wrongdoer who has made some atonement, and that removes his guilt; but if the victim refuses to forgive despite substantial atonement, the wrongdoer's guilt disappears anyway. We have some responsibility to help others of our community to deal with their guilt—by encouraging them to apologize, and by helping them to make reparation—but we are not guilty for the wrong acts of anyone else.

Keywords:   apology, Aquinas, atonement, community, forgiveness, guilt, Kant, pride, reparation, repentance, shame

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