The nature of evil

Philosophical Explorations 1 (1):43 – 60 (1998)

Abstract

We readily claim that great moral catastrophes such as the Holocaust involve evil in some way, although it' not clear what this amounts to in a secular context. This paper seeks to provide a secular account of what evil is. It examines what is intuitively the most plausible account, namely that the evil act involves the production of great suffering (or other disvalue), and argues that such outcomes are neither necessary nor sufficient for an act to be evil. Only an appeal to distinctive patterns of motivation, so it is argued, will allow us to accommodate our intuitionsabout which acts are evil, and hence will provide an adequate account of the nature of evil.

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References found in this work

Moral Reasons.Jonathan Dancy - 1993 - Blackwell.
Are Moral Requirements Hypothetical Imperatives?John Mcdowell & I. G. Mcfetridge - 1978 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes 52:13-42.
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Reasons and Motivation.Derek Parfit - 1997 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 71 (1):99–130.
Moral Reasons.Jonathan Dancy - 1994 - Philosophy 69 (267):114-116.

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Citations of this work

Non‐Moral Evil.Allan Hazlett - 2012 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 36 (1):18-34.
Is Evil Just Very Wrong?Todd Calder - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (1):177-196.
A Conception of Evil.Paul Formosa - 2008 - Journal of Value Inquiry 42 (2):217-239.
Is Evil Action Qualitatively Distinct From Ordinary Wrongdoing?Luke Russell - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (4):659 – 677.
To Be or Not to Be Human: Resolving the Paradox of Dehumanisation.Adrienne de Ruiter - forthcoming - Sage Publications: European Journal of Political Theory.

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