Extremity of Vice and the Character of Evil

It is plausible that being an evil person is a matter of having a particularly morally depraved character. I argue that suffering from extreme moral vices—and not consistently lacking moral vices, for example—suffices for being evil. Alternatively, I defend an extremity account concerning evil personhood against consistency accounts of evil personhood. After clarifying what it is for vices to be extreme, I note that the extremity thesis I defend allows that a person could suffer from both extremely vicious character traits while possessing some modest virtue as well. By contrast, consistency theses rule out this possibility by definition. This result does not suggest that extremity accounts are flawed, however, since, as I argue, the thesis that evil people must lack moral virtue altogether effectively defines evil people out of existence and prematurely privileges skepticism about evil personhood. Ultimately, I contend that an extremity account is most consistent with common intuitions about putative evil persons as well as plausible assumptions about aretaic evaluations of character quite generally
Keywords evil  extremity  consistency  vice  vicious  moral saint
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5840/jpr_2010_2
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Moral Saints.Susan Wolf - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (8):419-439.
The Limited Unity of Virtue.Neera K. Badhwar - 1996 - Noûs 30 (3):306-329.
Moral Saints, Moral Monsters, and the Mirror Thesis.Peter Brian Barry - 2009 - American Philosophical Quarterly 46 (2):163 - 176.
Moral Monsters and Saints.Dan Haybron - 2002 - The Monist 85 (2):260-284.
Moral Realism and Moral Dilemma.Philippa Foot - 1983 - Journal of Philosophy 80 (7):379-398.

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
In Defense of the Mirror Thesis.Peter Brian Barry - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 155 (2):199-205.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

438 ( #5,166 of 2,177,862 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

16 ( #18,956 of 2,177,862 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums