I hear such expressions as “State and Trait Forgiveness” and “Specific Forgiveness vs. Dispositional Forgiveness.” Are there really different forms of forgiving?
I think this dichotomizing of forgiving is a philosophical error. “State” forgiveness refers to individual people forgiving specific people who have hurt them. “Trait” forgiveness refers to individual people having a general tendency to forgive many other people for many different offenses. Aristotle reminds us that as each person grows in any moral virtue through practice (and forgiveness is one of those moral virtues), then there is a tendency to develop a love of that virtue. As the person develops this love of forgiveness then there is a tendency to forgive others whenever there is an injustice. So, “Trait” or “Dispositional” forgiving occurs when a person first has a lot of practice with specific forgiving toward specific people. Such a person eventually shows a maturity in how this now is understood, valued, and expressed. Forgiveness should not be dichotomized into “State and Trait” forgiveness. Instead, we should see these as being on a continuum, with the love of the virtue appearing after a period of struggle and time.