It is shown by means of a simple example that a good explanation of an event is not necessarily corroborated by the occurrence of that event. It is also shown that this contention follows symbolically if an explanation having higher "explicativity" than another is regarded as better.
... Press for their editorial perspicacity, to the National Institutes of Health for the partial financial support they gave me while I was writing some of the chapters, and to Donald Michie for suggesting the title Good Thinking.
This essay explores what we might mean by good and evil, and argues that these terms remain salient for a critical, socio-historical, understanding of criminal law. It draws upon a meta-ethics of freedom and solidarity to explain what good means in recent mercy killing cases in England and Wales, and what evil means in Arendt’s phrase, the ‘banality of evil’.
Since September 11, 2001, many people in the United States have been more inclined to use the language of good and evil, and to be more comfortable with the idea that certain moral standards are objective (true independently of what anyone happens to think of them). Some people, especially those who are not religious, are not sure how to substantiate this view. Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? provides a basis for exploring these doubts and ultimately (...) defends the objectivity of ethics. Engaging and accessible, it is the first introduction to meta-ethics written especially for students and general readers with no philosophical background. Focusing on the issues at the foundation of morality, it poses such questions as: How can we know what is right and wrong? Does ethical objectivity require God? Why should I be moral? Where do moral standards come from? What is a moral value, and how can it exist in a scientific world? Do cultural diversity and persistent moral disagreement support moral skepticism? Writing in a clear and lively style and employing many examples to illustrate theoretical arguments, Russ Shafer-Landau identifies the many weaknesses in contemporary moral skepticism and devotes considerable attention to presenting, and critiquing, the most difficult objections to his view. Also included in the book are a helpful summary of all the major arguments covered, as well as a glossary of key philosophical terms. Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? is ideal for a variety of philosophy courses and compelling reading for anyone interested in ethics. (shrink)
Follow the leader: why people go against their better judgment? -- How could they do that?: understanding the many sources and faces of evil -- Silently standing by: why we do or don't come to the aid of those who need us -- Paving the way to resistance: the gift of good during the Nazi occupation 1939-1945 -- Preconditions of resistance during the Armenian and Rwandan genocides -- Nature of goodness -- The world of heroes: why we need (...) heroes -- Conclusion. (shrink)
In this paper I defend the thesis that, considered simply as certain sorts of bodily sensations, pleasure is not the good nor is pain intrinsically evil. In fact, the opposite is largely the case: pursuit of pleasure is generally productive of ontic evil, and pain, when heeded, directs us toward the ontic good.
According to Plantinga's version of the free-will argument (FWA), the existence of free beings in the world who, on the whole, do more good than evil is the greater moral good that cannot be secured by even an omnipotent God without allowing some evil and thereby shows the logical compatibility of God with evil. In this essay, I argue that there are good empirical and moral reasons, from the standpoint of one plausible conception of (...) Christian ethics, to doubt that Plantinga's version of the FWA succeeds as a theodicy. In particular, I argue that, given this understanding of Christian ethics, it seems reasonable to think it false that free beings are doing more good than evil in the world. While there are surely possible worlds in which free beings do more good than evil, this material world seems clearly not one of those. Thus, while Plantinga's version might succeed as a defence against the logical problem of evil, it will neither rebut the evidential problem of evil nor, without more, ground a successful theodicy that reconciles God's existence with the evil that occurs in this world. (shrink)
“Supposing that truth is a women-what then?” This is the very first sentence in Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil . Not very often are philosophers so disarmingly explicit in their intention to discomfort the reader. In fact, one might say that the natural state of Nietzsche’s reader is one of perplexity. Yet it is in the process of overcoming the perplexity that one realizes how rewarding to have one’s ideas challenged. In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche (...) critiques the mediocre in modernity and challenges the reader to accept their state of becoming and accept improvisation and creativity of the process. Nietzsche’s book is carefully designed to disorient the reader, to systematically provoke and tease her to the point of stealing away her certainties. It is challenging yet rewarding to overcome the perplexities of Nietzsche’s teachings. (shrink)
I start from Mill's words about Mansel and the problem of evil. In this dispute Mansel has generally been thought to have come off worst. However, Mansel was clearly right to this extent: that what would make a man a good man would not be the same as what made God good. This is because, quite generally, what makes something good of its kind, where we can talk about goodness at all, varies with the kind. With (...) Aristotle we must say: the criteria are fixed by the thing's ergon, or at least by something analogous. On this account, it would seem that God must be perfect, since as an intelligent agent He does supremely well what is in the nature of an intelligent agent to do. This seems to lead to the right solution to the problem of evil. But Mill also had something useful to contribute. He saw that there would be a consequent difficulty in regard to revelation. This difficulty seems to be severe and insufficiently discussed. (shrink)
This is a contribution to a symposium on Clark and Dudrick’s The Soul of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. I focus on three aspects of their book. First, I critique Clark and Dudrick’s claim that Nietzsche recognizes a discrete “will to value.” Second, I argue that Clark and Dudrick’s reading of Nietzschean drives (Triebe) as homunculi is indefensible. Third, I raise questions about their claim that Nietzsche understands the self as a “normative ordering” of drives, which they distinguish (...) from a “causal ordering”; I suggest that Nietzsche would reject this causal/normative distinction. (shrink)
Abstract. Found in the Primeval History in Genesis, the biblical concepts of the “image of God” and the “knowledge of good and evil” remain integral to Christian anthropology, especially with regard to the theologoumena of “fall” and “original sin.” All of these symbols are remained important and appropriate descriptors of the human condition, provided that contemporary academic theological anthropology engages in constructive dialogue with the natural and social sciences. Using Paul Ricoeur's notion of “second naïveté experience,” I illustrate (...) the hermeneutical significance of contemporary bio-cultural or socio-biological evolutionary theory for reformulating these concepts of Christian anthropology today. (shrink)
George W. Bush is not only America’s president, but also its most prominent moralist. No other president in living memory has spoken so often about good and evil, right and wrong. His inaugural address was a call to build “a single nation of justice and opportunity.” A year later, he famously proclaimed North Korea, Iran and Iraq to be an “axis of evil,” and in contrast, he called the United States “a moral nation.” He defends his tax (...) policy in moral terms, saying that it is fair, and gives back to taxpayers what is rightfully theirs. The case he makes for free trade is “not just monetary, but moral.” Open trade is a “moral imperative.” Another “moral imperative,” he says, is alleviating hunger and poverty throughout the world. He has said that “America’s greatest economic need is higher ethical standards.” In setting out the “Bush doctrine,” which defends preemptive strikes against those who might threaten America with weapons of mass destruction, he asserted: “Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place.” But in what moral truths does the president believe? Considering how much the president says about ethics, it is surprising how little serious discussion there has been of the moral philosophy of George W. Bush. (shrink)
Beyond Good and Evil is one of the most scathing and powerful critiques of philosophy, religion, science, politics and ethics ever written. In it, Nietzsche presents a set of problems, criticisms and philosophical challenges that continue both to inspire and to trouble contemporary thought. In addition, he offers his most subtle, detailed and sophisticated account of the virtues, ideas, and practices which will characterize philosophy and philosophers of the future. With his relentlessly energetic style and tirelessly probing manner, (...) Nietzsche embodies the type of thought he wants to foster, while defining its historical role and determining its agenda. This edition offers a new and readable translation, by Judith Norman, of one of the most influential texts in the history of philosophy, together with an introduction by Rolf-Peter Horstmann that sets it in its historical and philosophical context. (shrink)
George W. Bush is not only America’s president, but also its most prominent moralist. No other president in living memory has spoken so often about good and evil, right and wrong. […] But in what moral truths does the president believe? Considering how much the president says about ethics, it is surprising how little serious discussion there has been of the moral philosophy of George W. Bush.
In this article, six demoralising processes in the context of the company are identified. These processes promote a realm of ' being-with', in which outcomes of human interaction are evaluated on rational grounds, and on whether or not a particular action accorded with stipulated ethical rules. Thereby the realm of 'being-for', in which individuals are supported to take increased responsibility, is marginalized. The conclusion made is that not only do the demoralizing processes systematically produce moral distance between humans, which weakens (...) individual spontaneous outbursts of sympathy to take increased moral responsibility, they also promise to release individuals from their moral ambivalence by declaring organised action morally indifferent. Organisational action is, in other words, declared as adiaphoric - beyond good and evil. (shrink)
This book presents a student-friendly introduction to one of Nietzsche's most widely-read and studied texts. "Beyond Good and Evil" contains Nietzsche's mature philosophy of the free spirit. Although it is one of his most widely read texts, it is a notoriously difficult piece of philosophical writing. The authors demonstrate in clear and precise terms why it is to be regarded as Nietzsche's philosophical masterpiece and the work of a revolutionary genius. This "Reader's Guide" is the ideal companion to (...) study, offering guidance on: philosophical and historical context, key themes, reading the text, reception and influence and further reading. "Continuum Reader's Guides are clear, concise and accessible introductions to key texts in literature and philosophy. Each book explores the themes, context, criticism and influence of key works, providing a practical introduction to close reading, guiding students towards a thorough understanding of the text. They provide an essential, up-to-date resource, ideal for undergraduate students. (shrink)
I first demonstrate that certain process philosophers and Aquinas hold extremely similar notions of evil. Whitehead and Hartshorne parallel Aquinas in understanding evil as relational, as a conflict of goods, and as a necessary element in a larger good. On this last point, process philosophers contend that traditional theists must either reject the claim of God’s omnipotence or admit that an omnipotent God would be responsible for evil, including moral evil. I respond that Aquinas’s distinction (...) between physical and moral evil moves beyond the process position and avoids the conclusion that God’s omnipotence must be abandoned. I argue that (1) the process position does not take proper account of Aquinas’s claim that the cause of evil is a negation and (2) the initial criticism relies on a distinction between moral and physical evil that process philosophy cannot make. (shrink)
This essay argues that critical realism provides a philosophical perspective from which to talk about good and evil. It draws on dialectical critical realism’s meta-ethics of freedom and solidarity, and the different grades of freedom identified there: from the basic spontaneity in agency to the possibility of a fully flourishing, eudaimonic social condition. It argues that evil acts can be understood as those which fundamentally deny basic human freedom (spontaneity) and solidarity, and that good acts are (...) those which affirm human flourishing and solidarity. It draws upon Hannah Arendt’s depiction of what was morally evil in the Holocaust, and recent English criminal trials involving mercy killing to depict the good. It suggests that moral framing in terms of good and evil lies beyond the terms in which modern law thinks of human actions. (shrink)
Moral entrepreneurship is the fine art of recycling evil into good by taking advantage of situations given or constructed as crises. It should be seen as the ultimate generalisation of the entrepreneurial spirit, whose peculiar excesses have always sat uneasily with homo oeconomicus as the constrained utility maximiser, an image that itself has come to be universalised. A task of this essay is to reconcile the two images in terms of what by the end I call ‘superutilitarianism’, which (...) draws on the lore of both superheroes and utilitarianism. After briefly surveying the careers of three exemplars of the moral entrepreneur (Robert McNamara, George Soros and Jeffrey Sachs), I explore the motives of moral entrepreneurs in terms of their standing debt to society for having already caused unnecessary harm but which also now equips him with the skill set needed to do significant good. Such a mindset involves imagining oneself a vehicle of divine will, which would be a scary proposition had it not been long presumed by Christians touched by Calvin. In conclusion, I argue that moral entrepreneurship looks most palatable – and perhaps even attractive – if the world is ‘reversible’, in the sense that every crisis, however clumsily handled by the moral entrepreneur, causes people to distinguish more clearly the necessary from contingent features of their existence. This leads them to reconceptualise past damages as new opportunities to assert what really matters; hence, a ‘superutilitarian’ ethic that treats all suffering as less cost than investment in a greater sense of the good. (shrink)
Since their Puritan origins in the 17th century, American politicians have tended to speak in the language of divinely given morality. George W. Bush is not unique in his frequent references to the language of good and evil, just as he is not the first US politician to mangle the language.
Introduction -- Part I: The lie that we are not good enough as we are -- Where the lie came from and why we bought it -- Trying to meet the criteria for good enough -- Perpetuating the striving and the lack -- Part II: Dead ends and what they teach us -- Money/stuff -- Appearance -- Religion -- Food -- Drugs/alcohol -- Sex/romantic love -- Accomplishment/education/notoriety -- Busyness -- Part III: The truth : we are innately (...) class='Hi'>good -- Evil is an alternative, not our nature -- Lighting our darkness to let go of fear, false beliefs, and all negative -- Emotion -- Looking at our essence, which is love, or everything good -- Being who we are ... it means overcoming our separateness -- Invoking love -- Aligning with love -- Being love innately more than we ever dreamed of being. (shrink)
In his third and final investigation into the science of belief, bestselling author Michael Shermer tackles the evolution of morality and ethics A century and a half after Darwin first proposed an “evolutionary ethics,” science has begun to tackle the roots of morality. Just as evolutionary biologists study why we are hungry (to motivate us to eat) or why sex is enjoyable (to motivate us to procreate), they are now searching for the roots of human nature. In The Science of (...)Good and Evil , psychologist and science historian Michael Shermer explores how humans evolved from social primates to moral primates, how and why morality motivates the human animal, and how the foundation of moral principles can be built upon empirical evidence. Along the way he explains the im-plications of statistics for fate and free will fuzzy logic for the existence of pure good and pure evil and ecology for the development of early moral sentiments among the first humans. As he closes the divide between science and morality, Shermer draws on stories from the Yanamamo, infamously known as the “fierce people” of the tropical rain forest, to the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan, to John Hinckley’s insanity defense. The Science of Good and Evil is ultimately a profound look at the moral animal, belief, and the scientific pursuit of truth. (shrink)
Introduction: What is evil and how can we understand it? -- The theology of evil -- Theodicies -- The privation theodicy -- The free will theodicy -- The Iraenean theodicy -- The totality theodicy -- History as secular theodicy -- Job's insight-the theodicy of the hereafter -- Anthropology of evil -- Are people good or evil? -- The typologies of evil -- Demonic evil -- Evil for evil's sake -- Evil's (...) aesthetic seduction -- Sadism -- Schadenfreude -- Subjective and objective evil -- Kant and instrumental evil -- The impossibility of a "devilish" will -- The paradox of evil -- Moral rebirth -- The evil is the other-idealistic evil -- "Us" vs. "them" -- Violent individuals -- Arendt and stupid evil -- The evil and the stupid -- Radical and banal evil -- Eichmann, Hoss, and Stangl -- Normal people and extreme evil -- Thinking as opposition -- Evil people -- The problem of evil -- Theory and praxis -- Ethics of conviction and ethics of responsibility -- Politics and violence -- Evil as a concrete problem. (shrink)
Evil has long fascinated psychologists, philosophers, novelists and playwrights but remains an incredibly difficult concept to talk about. On Evil is a compelling and at times disturbing tour of the many faces of evil. What is evil, and what makes people do awful things? If we can explain evil, do we explain it away? Can we imagine the mind of a serial killer, or does such evil defy description? Does evil depend on a (...) contrast with good, as religion tells us, or can there be evil for evil's sake? Adam Morton argues that any account of evil must help us understand three things: why evil occurs; why evil often arises out of banal or everyday situations; and how we can be seen as evil. Drawing on fascinating examples as diverse as Augustine, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, psychological studies of deviant behavior and profiles of serial killers, Adam Morton argues that evil occurs when internal, mental barriers against it simply break down. Adam Morton also introduces us to some nightmare people, such as Adolf Eichmann and Hannibal Lecter, reminding us that understanding their actions as humans brings us closer to understanding evil. Exciting and thought-provoking, On Evil is essential reading for anyone interested in a topic that attracts and repels us in equal measure. (shrink)
This concise, well-structured survey examines the problem of evil in the context of the philosophy of religion. One of the core topics in that field, the problem of evil is an enduring challenge that Western philosophers have pondered for almost two thousand years. The main problem of evil consists in reconciling belief in a just and loving God with the evil and suffering in the world. Michael Peterson frames this issue by working through questions such as (...) the following: What is the relation of rational belief to religious faith? What different conceptual moves are possible on either side of the issue? What responses have important thinkers advanced and which seem most promising? Is it possible to maintain religious commitment in light of evil? Peterson relies on the helpful distinction between moral and natural evil to clarify our understanding of the different aspects of the problem as well as avenues for response.The overall format of the text rests on classifying various types of argument from evil: the logical, the probabilistic, the evidential, and the existential arguments. Each type of argument has its own strategy which both theists and nontheists must recognize and develop. Giving both theistic and nontheistic perspectives fair representation, the text works through the issues of whether evil shows theistic belief to be inconsistent, improbable, discredited by the evidence, or threatened by personal crisis.Peterson explains how defensive strategies are particularly geared for responding to the logical and probabilistic arguments from evil while theodicy is an appropriate response to the evidential argument. Theodicy has traditionally been understood as the attempt to justify belief in a God who is all-powerful and all-good in light of evil. The text discusses the theodicies of Augustine, Leibniz, Hick, and Whitehead as enlightening examples of theodicy. This discussion allows Peterson to identify and evaluate a rather dominant theme in most theodicies: that evil can be justified by designating a greater good. In the end, Peterson even explores how certain types of theodicy, based on specifically Christian renditions of theism, might provide a basis for addressing the existential problem of evil. The reader of this book gains not only an intellectual grasp of the debate over God and evil in professional philosophy but also the personal benefit of thinking through one of the most important issues in human life. (shrink)