American Philosophical Quarterly 36 (2):131 - 148 (1999)
|Abstract||In this paper I examine the psychological traits that can play a constitutive role in having an evil character, using a recent affect-based account by Colin McGinn as my starting point. I distinguish several such traits and defend the importance of both affect and action-based approaches. I then argue that someone who possesses these characteristics to the greatest possible extent—the purely evil individual—can actually be less depraved than one whose character is not so thoroughly penetrated by such traits. To illustrate the contrast I have in mind, I use two fictional characters, each of whom exemplifies a different kind of moral extreme: Claggart, from Melville’s Billy Budd, and Wilde’s Dorian Gray.|
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