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Payback, Forgiveness, Accountability: Exercising Responsible Agency in the Midst of Structured Racial Harm

Theology and Religious Studies Department, Seattle University, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
Religions 2019, 10(9), 528; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090528
Received: 22 August 2019 / Revised: 5 September 2019 / Accepted: 10 September 2019 / Published: 13 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Beliefs and the Morality of Payback)
In a context of political conflict, the practice of vengeance, the paying back of harm in exchange for harm suffered, is obviously an ethical problem. The practice of forgiveness is equally though differently problematic when applied to political conflict despite the fact that it is a moral ideal. A third approach, the practice of moral accountability, is more ethically justifiable, yet it remains unclear what it is conceptually and what it would involve practically in a particular context. In this essay, the author develops a conceptual framework for moral accountability, grounded in a broader understanding of justice as responsibility to conflictual and unchosen relationships. Drawing on contemporary sources in Christian ethics, as well as insights from anti-racism community organizing, the author argues that practices of moral accountability restructure the pattern of these relationships, such that perpetrators and guilty bystanders are more likely to assume, rather than avoid, responsibility for causing structured racial harm. View Full-Text
Keywords: accountability; responsibility; justice; ethics; vengeance; forgiveness; agency; racism; community organizing; Christianity accountability; responsibility; justice; ethics; vengeance; forgiveness; agency; racism; community organizing; Christianity
MDPI and ACS Style

Jaycox, M.P. Payback, Forgiveness, Accountability: Exercising Responsible Agency in the Midst of Structured Racial Harm. Religions 2019, 10, 528.

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