A Relational Approach to Evil Action: Vulnerability and its Exploitation

Journal of Value Inquiry 53 (1):33-53 (2019)
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In this article I seek a more complete understanding of evil action. To this end, in the first half of the article I assess the conceptual strengths and weaknesses of the most compelling theories of evil action found in the contemporary philosophical literature. I conclude that the theories that fall under the category I call ‘‘Nuanced Harm Accounts’’ successfully identify the necessary and sufficient conditions of the concept. However, necessary and sufficient conditions are not coextensive with significant features, and Nuanced Harm Accounts are incomplete even if they are correct. In order to supplement them, in the second half of the article I examine the normative relation that obtains between perpetrators and victims of evil and find them to be parties to a relation of asymmetrical power in which the vulnerability of the weaker party is exploited by the stronger party for its advantage, pleasure, or otherwise to achieve its aims. Moreover, the parties in the relation reciprocally enable each other’s role relative to one another. The strength of the more powerful party emerges out of the states of vulnerability of the victims, and the victims are vulnerable relative to the power(s) of the perpetrator.



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Zachary J. Goldberg
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

Citations of this work

Was ist eine böse Handlung?Zachary J. Goldberg - 2019 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 66 (6):764-787.

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