Can Kant’s Theory of Radical Evil Be Saved?

Kantian Review 22 (3):395-419 (2017)
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Abstract

In this article, I assess three contemporary criticisms levelled at Kant’s theory of evil in order to evaluate whether his theory can be saved. Critics argue that Kant does not adequately distinguish between evil and mundane wrongdoing, making his use of the term ‘evil’ emotional hyperbole; by defining evil as the subordination of the moral law to self-love his analysis is seemingly overly simplistic and empirically false; and by focusing solely on the moral character of the perpetrator of evil, Kant’s theory apparently ignores the most salient aspect of evil – the suffering of victims. While I will not claim that Kant provides us with a fully adequate theory of evil, I respond to each of these criticisms and conclude that Kant’s theory can still provide significant insight into both the nature of evil and the moral psychology of perpetrators of evil.

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Zachary J. Goldberg
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

Citations of this work

Kant's moral philosophy.Robert N. Johnson - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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