Getting Even: Forgiveness and Its Limits

Jeffrie G. Murphy

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

    214 Scopus citations


    We have all been victims of wrongdoing. Forgiving that wrongdoing is one of the staples of current pop psychology dogma; it is seen as a universal prescription for moral and mental health in the self-help and recovery section of bookstores. At the same time, personal vindictiveness as a rule is seen as irrational and immoral. In many ways, our thinking on these issues is deeply inconsistent; we value forgiveness yet at the same time now use victim-impact statements to argue for harsher penalties for criminals. Do we have a right to hate others for what they have done to us? This book has a skeptical view when it comes to our ideas on both emotions. The book proposes that vindictive emotions (anger, resentment, and the desire for revenge) actually deserve a more legitimate place in our emotional, social, and legal lives than we currently recognize, while forgiveness deserves to be more selectively granted. The book grounds the views expressed herein on careful analysis of the nature of forgiveness, a subtle understanding of the psychology of anger and resentment, and a fine appreciation of the ethical issues of self-respect and self-defense. It also uses examples from law, literature, and religion to make various points.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Number of pages152
    ISBN (Electronic)9780199850129
    ISBN (Print)9780195178555
    StatePublished - Oct 3 2011


    • Anger
    • Ethical issues
    • Forgiveness
    • Mental health
    • Resentment
    • Revenge
    • Self-defense
    • Self-respect
    • Vindictiveness
    • Wrongdoing

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Arts and Humanities(all)


    Dive into the research topics of 'Getting Even: Forgiveness and Its Limits'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this