Crítica, Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía, Volume 40, number 119, agosto 2008
“Above the Sceptred Sway”: Retrieving the Quality of Mercy
[“Por encima de esa autoridad de cetro”: recuperación de la cualidad de la clemencia]
William F. Ransome
Key Centre for Ethics
b.ransome@griffith.edu.au

Abstract: Mercy is often thought to be a praiseworthy moral virtue. However, the quality of mercy has been thrown into doubt. Since to be merciful is to be lenient to a wrongdoer beyond the dictates of justice, it seems as if mercy cannot be a praiseworthy virtue. I argue that several recent attempts to reconcile mercy with justice fail, and that the subsequent endeavour to resurrect mercy as a praiseworthy moral virtue is doubtful. However, I also show how the praiseworthy quality of mercy can be retrieved, if we carefully reconstruct the moral case in its favour outside the law.
Keywords: equity, justice, leniency, mercy, virtue

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