Dorothy Emmet Lectures

The Dorothy Emmet Lectures commemorate Dorothy Emmet, an eminent mid-20th Century philosopher and head of the Philosophy Department at Manchester for over 20 years. The lectures are aimed at the general public and require no prior knowledge of philosophy.

The 2021 lecture was presented by Miranda Fricker, on 'How is forgiveness a gift?'. It took place in March and will soon be available to view, with subtitles, on our main Dorothy Emmet Lectures page.


Some say there is something gift-like at the heart of forgiveness. This is clearly true of unconditional forms of forgiveness, where we forgive even in the absence of apology, for in such cases our forgiveness is fully discretionary. But how can it be true of conditional forms of forgiveness, where our reason for forgiving is provided by the wrongdoer’s apologetic expression of remorse? In conditional cases, it seems we can have an obligation to forgive. But where forgiveness is an obligation, what is left of the idea that our forgiveness remains fundamentally gift-like? Prof. Fricker will offer an answer to this question that draws on a comparison with obligations of gratitude.

Miranda Fricker

Miranda Fricker is Presidential Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her hugely influential 2007 book, Epistemic Injustice, concerns the ways in which people can be unjustly deprived of -- or perceived as lacking -- knowledge, as when e.g. someone's testimony is assumed to be unreliable because of their race, gender or social status. She is currently writing a book about blame and forgiveness.