Evil, wrongdoing, and concept distinctness

Philosophical Studies 173 (6):1591-1602 (2016)
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Abstract

Philosophers theorizing about ‘evil’ usually distinguish evil actions from acts of ordinary wrongdoing. They either attempt to isolate some quality or set of qualities shared by all evil actions that is not found in other wrongful actions, or they concede that their account of evil is only distinguished by capturing the very worst acts on the scale of moral wrongness. The idea that evil is qualitatively distinct from wrongdoing has recently been under contention. We explore the grounds for this contention, and argue that there is a third option that might be useful for a variety of philosophical accounts of evil. The alternate form of distinctness we propose is called quality of emphasis distinctness. We illustrate this form of concept distinctness with a modified version of Hillel Steiner’s account of evil. We then explain how QE distinctness could also be applied to more complex theories of evil, such as the theories proposed by Claudia Card, John Kekes, and Todd Calder.

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Author Profiles

Hallie Liberto
University of Maryland, College Park

References found in this work

The Roots of Evil.John Kekes - 2005 - Cornell University Press.
Is Evil Just Very Wrong?Todd Calder - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (1):177-196.
Evil: A Philosophical Investigation.Luke Russell - 2014 - Oxford University Press.

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