Though ‘evil’ is often used loosely as merely the generic opposite of ‘morally good’, used precisely it is the worst possible term of opprobrium available. In this essay it is taken as applying primarily to persons, secondarily to conduct; evil deeds must flow from the volition to do something evil. An evil action is one so horrendously bad that no ordinary decent human being can conceive of doing it, and an evil person is one who knowingly wills or orders such (...) actions. Malignant evil—doing evil because it is evil—is not just possible but real, and is one of several kinds of evil delineated. There are incidental discussions of cruelty, Rosenbaum on Explaining Hitler, Baumeister on Evil, and Benn on wickedness. Footnotes1 Dedicated to Alan Gewirth, in honour of his 90th birthday, and in appreciation of his superb, illuminating, and ground-breaking philosophical work over many years. (shrink)
The Ideal of a Rational Morality collects the most important essays by the distinguished moral philosopher Marcus G. Singer. Its guiding theme is the concept of a morality based in reason, which is presupposed in ordinary moral contexts and provides an ideal for improving ordinary morality and correcting moral judgements. Singer makes compelling claims that certain fundamental presuppositions are inescapable in moral thought, that fundamental moral principles can be proved, and that the concepts of truth and 'common sense' are essential (...) to ethics. (shrink)
This paper describes a number of the most important recent changes in the character of ethics, Such as the revival of applied ethics and the effect this is having on ethical theory. In the process discusses some recent work of note and the new role in ethics of the notion of rights, And speculates on the possibility of ethics becoming a discipline separate from philosophy while at the same time remaining moral philosophy.