Published by: Rowman and Littlefield
Release Date: June 2017
In this chapter, I argue that while moral exemplars are useful, we must be careful in our use of them. I first describe forgiveness exemplars that are often used to persuade victims to forgive such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesus of Nazareth. I also explain how, for Kant, highlighting these figures as moral exemplars can be useful. I then explain two kinds of rhetorical strategies that are used when attempting to convince victims to forgive. Last, I explain (a la Kant) how the use of exemplars does not empower but instead disempowers victims. My overall claim is that using exemplars to persuade victims to forgive is problematic. It is best if we rely on decisive reasons to forgive instead of focusing on people who have forgiven.