An introduction to the analysis of evil

Someone with a perverse will need not do anything wrong because actions which best promote her self-interest may conform to the moral law.

theory of fundamental evil

The first argument contends that since we do not choose our upbringings we should not be held responsible for crimes which result from our upbringings See, e.

For instance, Liberto and Harrington suggest that both altruistic and heroic actions have the following essential properties: 1 they are performed for the sake of others, and 2 they are performed at some cost or risk to the agent.

In Pathways in Theodicy, designed for students and scholars alike, Mark S.

Nature of evil

For if evil persons have evil-making properties frequently, or on a regular basis, then it makes sense to say that they are the worst sorts of people and deserve our strongest moral condemnation. According to Liberto and Harrington, two concepts are non-quantitatively distinct provided one of the concepts has a property which determines the degree to which that concept is instantiated that does not determine the degree to which the second concept is instantiated. By contrast, evil-revivalists believe that the concept of evil has a place in our moral and political thinking and discourse. For example, assuming for the moment that evil actions are evil-making properties, Stanley Milgram has shown that most of us are disposed to perform evil actions specifically, administering potentially lethal electric shocks to innocent people when in certain experimental conditions i. For instance, Todd Calder argues that to be an evil person it is sufficient to have a regular propensity for e-desires. A second argument in favour of the concept of evil is that it is only by facing evil, i. She psychologically silences considerations that are so morally weighty that they metaphysically silence the very considerations which move her to act Garrard , For instance, Garrard argues that evil actions result from a particular kind of motivation. The argument goes something like this: if an agent has no good reason to believe that she causes significant harm without moral justification, then she is not morally responsible for causing this harm because she has no good reason to act otherwise. Susan Wolf offers a variant of this argument.

Jo believes that there is nothing wrong with torturing or executing innocent people. If so, evil and wrongdoing are non-quantitatively distinct by being quality of emphasis distinct.

Theodicy examples

According to Liberto and Harrington, two concepts are non-quantitatively distinct provided one of the concepts has a property which determines the degree to which that concept is instantiated that does not determine the degree to which the second concept is instantiated. Thus, her actions conform to the moral law only if they are in her self-interest. Eve Garrard and Luke Russell also point out that even if the concept of evil cannot provide a complete explanation for the performance of an action, it can provide a partial explanation. For example, the human body is evil while the human soul is good and must be freed from the body through strict adherence to Manichaean teaching. On this view we can more accurately, and less perniciously, understand and describe morally despicable actions, characters, and events using more pedestrian moral concepts such as badness and wrongdoing. When evil is restricted to actions that follow from these sorts of motivations, theorists sometimes say that their subject is pure, radical, diabolical, or monstrous evil. That is, for the internalist, there is a conceptual connection between believing that an action is wrong and having a con-attitude toward the action. Importantly, if Liberto and Harrington are right that two concepts can be non-quantitatively distinct by being quality of emphasis distinct, then Calder is wrong to think that two concepts can be non-quantitatively distinct only if they do not share all of their essential properties. Claudia Card describes the harm of evil as an intolerable harm. However, Cole argues that the concept of evil does not provide a genuine explanation in these cases because to say that an action is evil is just to say either that the action resulted from supernatural forces or that the action is a mystery. For instance, a delusional schizophrenic who believes that her neighbour is a demon is not responsible for harming her neighbour since she does not understand that she is harming an innocent person; she believes she is defending herself from an inhuman malicious agent.

According to Clendinnen the concept of evil cannot explain the performance of actions because it is an essentially dismissive classification. According to Russell, although most of us are strongly disposed to perform evil actions in Milgram scenarious, since Milgram scenarios are not autonomy-favoring conditions, most of us are not evil persons.

types of evils

To say that an event resulted from supernatural forces is not to give a genuine explanation of the event because these forces do not exist.

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Pathways in Theodicy: An Introduction to the Problem of Evil