“Letting Go of Blame” by Per-Erik Milam (University of Gothenburg)

Most philosophers acknowledge ways of overcoming blame, even blame directed at a culpable offender, that does not count as forgiving. Sometimes continuing to blame a friend for their offensive comment just isn’t worth it, so we let go instead. However, despite being a common and widely recognized experience, no one has offered a positive account of letting go. Instead, it tends to be characterized negatively and superficially, usually in order to delineate the boundaries of forgiveness. This paper gives a more complete and systematic account of this important practice. We argue that the basic distinction between forgiving and letting go of blame follows from distinctions that most philosophers already accept. We then develop a positive account in terms of the reasons one has to let go rather than forgive and show that letting go is as valuable a part of our shared moral lives as forgiveness.