Possibilities of Forgiveness
February 20 – 21, 2012
At Villanova University
“…you are in no position to forgive.” - Simon Wiesenthal, The Sunflower
What makes forgiveness possible? What does forgiveness require? Is focusing on forgiveness self-indulgent—should we, perhaps, celebrate repentance? Scholars from all backgrounds are invited to participate in a conversation about individual and communal apology, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. The aim of this conference is to bring together a small number of persons from a variety of theoretical, religious, and non-religious perspectives for a working consultation. We hope to present persons from a variety of traditions an opportunity to learn from and about one another’s traditions, and to thoughtfully challenge them.
Mohammed Abu-Nimer is associate professor at American University's School of International Service in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, and Director of the Peacebuilding and Development Institute. He has conducted research on conflict resolution and dialogue for peace among Palestinians and Jews in Israel; Israeli-Palestinian conflict; application of conflict resolution models in Muslim communities; interreligious conflict resolution training; interfaith dialogue; and evaluation of conflict resolution programs. As a practitioner, he has been intervening and conducting conflict resolution training workshops in many conflict areas around the world. He has published articles on these subjects in the Journal of Peace Research; Journal of Peace and Changes, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, and in edited books, including Peace-Buillding by, between, and beyond Muslims and Evangelical Christians and Reconciliation, Justice, and Coexistence. Abu-Nimer is the co-founder and co-editor of the new Journal of Peacebuilding and Development.
Dr Anthony Bash is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Theology at Durham University. He has published Forgiveness and Christian Ethics (CUP, 2007), Just Forgiveness (SPCK, 2011) and 'Forgiveness: A Re-appraisal' (2011) in Studies in Christian Ethics 24(2), pp.133-146.
Anas Malik is the author of “Interfaith Liberative Collective Action across the Muslim Christian Divide”, a book chapter in The Struggle to Constitute and Sustain Productive Orders, (Lexington, 2008), Political Survival in Pakistan: Beyond Ideology (Routledge, 2011), as well as other publications on political Islam, political economy, and development. Originally from Pakistan, he has lived in the Middle East, Britain, and the United States. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science and Master’s in Economics from Indiana University, Bloomington, and his Bachelor’s degree from Marlboro College in Vermont. Dr. Malik has been a participant in regional and national inter-religious dialogues. He is Associate Professor of Political Science at Xavier University in Cincinnati.
Louis Newman is the John M. and Elizabeth W. Musser Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching at Carleton College. He is the author of several books and articles in Jewish ethics, including Repentance: The Meaning and Practice of Teshuvah, and "The Quality of Mercy: On the Duty to Forgive in the Judaic Tradition”.
Daniel Philpott is associate professor of political science and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame, where he is on the faculty of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. He is author of the forthcoming Just and Unjust Peace: An Ethic of Political Reconciliation (Oxford, 2012). He has also pursued his interest in reconciliation as an activist in Kashmir, Burundi, and Congo, most recently under the auspices of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network.
Margaret Urban Walker
Margaret Urban Walker is Donald J. Schuenke Chair in Philosophy at Marquette University. She is most recently author of Moral Repair: Reconstructing Moral Relations After Wrongdoing (2006) and What is Reparative Justice? (2010). Her current research develops an expressive conception of reparations and explores public truth-telling in the context of human rights and post-conflict justice. She has contributed to research projects with the International Center for Transitional Justice on gendered violence and reparations and on truth commissions.
Dr. Michael Wohl is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Carleton University. He received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology at the University of Alberta in 2003. One of his main areas of research focuses on the causes and consequences of harm-doing at both the interpersonal and intergroup levels. This research examines the emotional reactions that stem from harming or being harmed (e.g., anxiety, guilt) and their effects on psychological and physical health. Among his publications are “A dark side to self-forgiveness: Forgiving the self and its association with chronic unhealthy behaviour.” (British Journal of Social Psychology) and “A critical review of official public apologies: Aims, pitfalls, and a staircase model of effectiveness.” (Social Issues and Policy Review).
Nicholas Wolterstorff is Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale University, and Senior Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He is past president of the American Philosophical Association and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Two of his recently published books are Justice: Rights and Wrongs and Justice in Love.
Jesse Couenhoven is associate professor of moral theology in the Department of Humanities at Villanova University. His research attempts to develop the insights into human and divine agency, and moral standing, present in Augustinian doctrines of sin and salvation. He has published essays on Augustinian, Barthian, and feminist theologies of evil and grace, and on virtue ethics; his recent articles include “Forgiveness and Restoration” (the Journal of Religion) and “The Necessities of Perfect Freedom” (forthcoming from the International Journal of Systematic Theology). Sponsored by a grant from the Templeton Foundation and the University of Chicago, he is currently exploring traditional conceptions of forgiveness as primarily a divine action, aimed at separating sinners from their sin via the gift of a new identity.