Can’t I forgive simply because it is good in and of itself? Do I really need some kind of external reason, such as helping my family or assisting the one who was unfair? The more abstract reason, that goes well beyond physical consequences, seems to me to be an important reason for forgiving.
Yes, I agree with you. We do not have to have, as you say, the motivation of forgiving to be the bringing about of a physical consequence such as improved family relationships or the rehabilitation of another’s behavior. Forgiveness as a moral virtue is good in and of itself and your engaging in this moral virtue as its own end is good. We need to keep in mind that forgiving unconditionally, for its own sake, can and often does lead to positive physical consequences (feeling better and/or a restored relationship). As you correctly point out, one does not have to have some kind of guarantee that such physical consequences will occur before we forgive.