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)
"Today our nation saw evil." - President George W. Bush, September 11th 2001 Evil! Like a zombie back from the grave, it has arisen--a word many of us had long ago relegated to Sunday sermons, video games and horror flicks. But of course, evil is not old fashioned, nor has it ever gone away, and may be as robust as ever. So what is evil? Does it exist? Veteran journalist Bill Hart tries to drag evil (...) out of the darkness and hold it up to the light. In doing so, he has written a very readable account of 5,000 years of philosophy, theology and human history as it reflects and refines its notion of evil. More than an explanation of why bad things happen, Evil: A Primer is a tour through the nether regions in search of what we really know. (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)
Augustine, perhaps the most important and most widely read Father of the Church, first became preoccupied with the problem of evil in his boyhood, and this preoccupation continued throughout his life. Augustine's ideas about evil were to mark out the boundaries of the problem for those who came after him; his influence was greater and more widespread than any other early Christian thinker and is still of importance both with those who agree with him and with those who (...) do not. Augustine's personality, so loveably and intricately revealed in his Confessions, has always made him a figure of intense interest. (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)
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)
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 -- (...) class='Hi'>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)
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.
T. A. Cavanaugh defends double-effect reasoning (DER), also known as the principle of double effect. DER plays a role in anti-consequentialist ethics (such as deontology), in hard cases in which one cannot realize a good without also causing a foreseen, but not intended, bad effect (for example, killing non-combatants when bombing a military target). This study is the first book-length account of the history and issues surrounding this controversial approach to hard cases. It will be indispensable in theoretical (...) ethics, applied ethics (especially medical and military), and moral theology. It will also interest legal and public policy scholars. (shrink)
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)