This essay explores what we might mean by good and evil, and argues that these terms remain salient for a critical, socio-historical, understanding of criminal law. It draws upon a meta-ethics of freedom and solidarity to explain what good means in recent mercy killing cases in England and Wales, and what evil means in Arendt’s phrase, the ‘banality of evil’.
Raimond Gaita's Good and Evil is one of the most important, original and provocative books on the nature of morality to have been published in recent years. It is essential reading for anyone interested in what it means to talk about good and evil. Gaita argues that questions about morality are inseparable from the preciousness of each human being, an issue we can only address if we place the idea of remorse at the centre of moral (...) life. Drawing on an astonishing range of thinkers and writers, including Plato, Wittgenstein, George Orwell and Primo Levi, Gaita also reflects on the place of reason and truth in morality and ultimately how questions about good and evil are connected to the meaning of our lives. This revised edition of Good and Evil includes a substantial new preface and afterword by the author. (shrink)
Since September 11, 2001, many people in the United States have been more inclined to use the language of good and evil, and to be more comfortable with the idea that certain moral standards are objective (true independently of what anyone happens to think of them). Some people, especially those who are not religious, are not sure how to substantiate this view. Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? provides a basis for exploring these doubts and ultimately (...) defends the objectivity of ethics. Engaging and accessible, it is the first introduction to meta-ethics written especially for students and general readers with no philosophical background. Focusing on the issues at the foundation of morality, it poses such questions as: How can we know what is right and wrong? Does ethical objectivity require God? Why should I be moral? Where do moral standards come from? What is a moral value, and how can it exist in a scientific world? Do cultural diversity and persistent moral disagreement support moral skepticism? Writing in a clear and lively style and employing many examples to illustrate theoretical arguments, Russ Shafer-Landau identifies the many weaknesses in contemporary moral skepticism and devotes considerable attention to presenting, and critiquing, the most difficult objections to his view. Also included in the book are a helpful summary of all the major arguments covered, as well as a glossary of key philosophical terms. Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? is ideal for a variety of philosophy courses and compelling reading for anyone interested in ethics. (shrink)
Return to Good and Evil: Flannery O'Connor's Response to Nihilism is a superb guide to the works of Flannery O'Connor; and like O'Connor's stories themselves, it is captivating, provocative, and unsettling. Edmondson organizes O'Connor's thought around her principal concern, that with the nihilistic claim that "God is dead" the traditional signposts of good and evil have been lost. Edmondson's book demonstrates that the combination of O'Connor's artistic brilliance and philosophical genius provide the best response to the (...) nihilistic despair of the modern world—a return to "good and evil" through humility and grace. (shrink)
Follow the leader: why people go against their better judgment? -- How could they do that?: understanding the many sources and faces of evil -- Silently standing by: why we do or don't come to the aid of those who need us -- Paving the way to resistance: the gift of good during the Nazi occupation 1939-1945 -- Preconditions of resistance during the Armenian and Rwandan genocides -- Nature of goodness -- The world of heroes: why we need (...) heroes -- Conclusion. (shrink)
John Perry--author of the acclaimed _Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality_ --revisits Gretchen Weirob in this lively and absorbing dialogue on good, evil, and the existence of God. In the early part of the work, Gretchen and her friends consider whether evil provides a problem for those who believe in the perfection of God. As the discussion continues they consider the nature of human evil—whether, for example, fully rational actions can be intentionally evil. Recurring themes (...) are the distinction between natural evil and evil done by free agents, and the problems the Holocaust and other cases of genocide pose for conceptions of the universe as a basically good place, or humans as basically good beings. Once again, Perry’s ability to get at the heart of matters combines with his exemplary skill at writing the dialogue form. An ideal volume for introducing students to the subtleties and intricacies of philosophical discussion. (shrink)
I argue that the atheological claim that the existence of pain and suffering either contradicts or makes improbable God's existence or his possession of certain critical properties cannot be sustained. The construction of a theodicy for both moral and natural evils is the focus of the central part of the book. In the final chapters I analyze the concept of the best possible world and the properties of goodness and omnipotence insofar as they are predicated of God.
A leading cognitive scientist argues that a deep sense of good and evil is bred in the bone. From John Locke to Sigmund Freud, philosophers and psychologists have long believed that we begin life as blank moral slates. Many of us take for granted that babies are born selfish and that it is the role of society—and especially parents—to transform them from little sociopaths into civilized beings. In Just Babies, Paul Bloom argues that humans are in fact hardwired (...) with a sense of morality. Drawing on groundbreaking research at Yale, Bloom demonstrates that, even before they can speak or walk, babies judge the goodness and badness of others’ actions; feel empathy and compassion; act to soothe those in distress; and have a rudimentary sense of justice. -/- Still, this innate morality is limited, sometimes tragically. We are naturally hostile to strangers, prone to parochialism and bigotry. Bringing together insights from psychology, behavioral economics, evolutionary biology, and philosophy, Bloom explores how we have come to surpass these limitations. Along the way, he examines the morality of chimpanzees, violent psychopaths, religious extremists, and Ivy League professors, and explores our often puzzling moral feelings about sex, politics, religion, and race. In his analysis of the morality of children and adults, Bloom rejects the fashionable view that our moral decisions are driven mainly by gut feelings and unconscious biases. Just as reason has driven our great scientific discoveries, he argues, it is reason and deliberation that makes possible our moral discoveries, such as the wrongness of slavery. Ultimately, it is through our imagination, our compassion, and our uniquely human capacity for rational thought that we can transcend the primitive sense of morality we were born with, becoming more than just babies. -/- Paul Bloom has a gift for bringing abstract ideas to life, moving seamlessly from Darwin, Herodotus, and Adam Smith to The Princess Bride, Hannibal Lecter, and Louis C.K. Vivid, witty, and intellectually probing, Just Babies offers a radical new perspective on our moral lives. (shrink)
While Iris Murdoch lived, Charles Taylor found philosophers as yet ‘too close’ to her rich philosophical contribution to see its true importance (Taylor 1996: 3). Twelve years from her death, Iris Murdoch, Philosopher is the first collection of essays on Murdoch’s philosophy edited by a philosopher, for a readership in academic philosophy. The collection is not yet the fulfilment of Taylor’s prophecy, but has the energy of a giant leap.