Aristotle, Epicurus, Morgenthau and the Political Ethics of the Lesser Evil

This article explores one of the key themes of Hans J. Morgenthau's moral theory, the concept of the lesser evil. Morgenthau developed this concept by reference to classical political theory, especially the articulation of the lesser evil found in Aristotle and Epicurus. The article begins by differentiating Morgenthau's work from that of E. H. Carr, whom he regards as engaged in a Quixotic quest to provide Machiavellism with greater ethical purpose. The article also contrasts the ethics of the lesser evil with Kantian ethics. Morgenthau places the lesser evil in the context of a modernity that has lost the capacity to think about the relationship between politics and morality and stresses the importance of coming to grips with the existential demands of love and power. Finally, the article argues that despite the ubiquity of evil, the existence of the lesser evil gives rise to the development of specifically political virtues such as prudence and moderation which raise the possibility of moral politics beyond mere expedience
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DOI 10.3366/E1755088209000342
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Political Theory and International Relations.Charles Beitz - 1979 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Eudemian Ethics. Aristotle - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Perpetual Peace.IMMANUEL KANT - 1940 - Philosophical Review 49:380.

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Unlearning Modernity: A Realist Method for Critical International Relations?Felix Rösch - 2017 - Journal of International Political Theory 13 (1):81-99.
Towards a Critical Concept of the Statesperson.Richard Beardsworth - 2017 - Journal of International Political Theory 13 (1):100-121.

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