The social structure of forgiveness

  • Gilles Gauthier
Keywords: Forgiveness, Speech act, Declaration, Social reality, Apology, Reconciliation


The speech act of forgiveness is first defined by its declarative illocutionary force and as pursuing an extra-illocutionary purpose which in the creation of a new social reality. Secondly, the double perlocutionary relation of forgiveness to apology and reconciliation is then described as constituting a standard sequence of production. In view of this overall characterization are subsequently highlighted the salient features of forgiveness, especially in a genocidal context: the use of language, the institutional framework commanded by its implementation and the complex interrelation generated between the offender and the offended. In the conclusion, the extraordinary human power manifested by forgiveness is evoked.