A Conception of Evil

Journal of Value Inquiry 42 (2):217-239 (2008)
There are a number of different senses of the term “evil.” We examine in this paper the term “evil” when it is used to say things such as: “what Hitler did was not merely wrong, it was evil”, and “Hitler was not merely a bad person, he was an evil person”. Failing to keep a promise or telling a white lie may be morally wrong, but unlike genocide or sadistic torture, it is not evil in this sense. In this paper we analyze the specific moral difference between “evil” and “mere wrongdoing”. In so doing we shall defend a specific conception of what acts and which persons should count as evil. On the view defended in this paper it is a necessary feature of an evil act that the victim of that act suffer what would at least normally be a life-wrecking or life-ending harm.
Keywords Evil
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10790-008-9118-8
 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
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,422
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Todd Calder (2015). Evil Persons. Criminal Justice Ethics 34 (3):350-360.
Luke Russell (2012). Evil and Incomprehensibility. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 36 (1):62-73.
Geoffrey Scarre (2012). Evil Collectives. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 36 (1):74-92.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

47 ( #103,370 of 1,924,770 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #254,761 of 1,924,770 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.