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Murphy authors foreword to 'Resentment's Virtue'

January 14, 2009

Professor Jeffrie Murphy, who teaches law at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, wrote the foreword for a newly published book, Resentment's Virtue: Jean Améry and the Refusal to Forgive, written by Thomas Brudholm, Research Fellow at the Danish Institute for International Studies.

"Most current talk of forgiveness and reconciliation in the aftermath of collective violence proceeds from an assumption that forgiveness is always superior to resentment and refusal to forgive," according to a description of the book "Victims who demonstrate a willingness to forgive are often celebrated as virtuous moral models, while those who refuse to forgive are frequently seen as suffering from a pathology. Resentment is viewed as a negative state, held by victims who are not 'ready' or 'capable' of forgiving and healing.

"Resentment's Virtue offers a new, more nuanced view. Building on the writings of Holocaust survivor Jean Améry and the work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Thomas Brudholm argues that the preservation of resentment can be the reflex of a moral protest that might be as permissible, humane or honorable as the willingness to forgive. Taking into account the experiences of victims, the findings of truth commissions, and studies of mass atrocities, Brudholm seeks to enrich the philosophical understanding of resentment."

When Brudholm's book was in the planning stage, he visited ASU to consult with Murphy, who has written extensively on forgiveness and resentment. Since then, they have kept up extensive e-mail correspondence.  While his book was in press, Brudholm was invited to return to ASU in order to give a lecture sponsored by the college's Committee on Law and Philosophy

Murphy's primary teaching and research areas are philosophy of law and jurisprudence, criminal law, ethics and religion, moral philosophy (including moral psychology), philosophy in literature/law and literature, and Kant's moral, political and legal philosophy.

He is the author of numerous books and articles on the theory of punishment, forgiveness and mercy, and the moral emotions. Most recently, he has written the book, Getting Even-Forgiveness and its Limits (Oxford University Press), and the article, "Remorse, Apology, and Mercy" (Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law), which is to be included in the Criminal Law Conversations project at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Judy Nichols,
(480) 727-7895
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law