Kant on punishment, pardon, and forgiveness

Kate Moran, Jens Timmermann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In “Kant on Punishment, Pardon, and Forgiveness” Kate Moran and Jens Timmermann examine Kantian punishment and pardon, first from the standpoint of his legal philosophy, then from the standpoint of his ethical philosophy. Their essay follows other Kant scholars, notably Sharon Byrd, in arguing that Kant’s theory of punishment in the legal sphere is deterrent in its threat of sanction, and retributivist in its execution of sanctions. Notably, Kant is opposed to pardons in the juridical sphere, and the essay briefly considers Kant’s reasons for doubting the possibility of pardon. In the second part of the essay, the authors develop a Kantian theory of ethical punishment and forgiveness. Kantian moral punishment, the essay argues, should be understood in terms of a maxim to protest a wrongdoing, and not simply in terms of feelings like resentment. Forgiveness should be understood as the maxim to cease moral punishment. Crucially, the reason for forgiveness, on the Kantian interpretation advanced here, is that we have a duty to be forgiving, akin to the duty of beneficence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConflict and resolution
Subtitle of host publicationthe ethics of forgiveness, revenge and punishment
EditorsPaula Satne, Krisanna M. Scheiter
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783030778071
ISBN (Print)9783030778064, 9783030778095
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2022


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