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Re: [Sartre] What's Wrong With "Evil"?

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  • Tommy Beavitt
    ... Chris, What you say makes a lot of sense. It is true that, by the definition you quote from the Encarta Dictionary, terrorists (and in particular, those
    Message 1 of 7 , Feb 7, 2002
      At 11:11 am -0800 6/2/02, Christopher Bobo wrote:
      >Yet "evil" is a legimate word in the English language. The Encarta
      >Dictionary defines it as meaning: e·vil [v'l ] adjective 1.
      >morally bad: profoundly immoral or wrong;
      >
      >2. harmful: deliberately causing great harm, pain, or upset This
      >evil act is clearly the work of terrorists.; 3. devilish:
      >connected with the Devil or other powerful destructive forces evil
      >spirits ; 4. causing misfortune: characterized by, bringing, or
      >signifying bad luck an evil omen ; 5. malicious: characterized by
      >a desire to cause hurt or harm an evil mood;
      >6. disagreeable: very unpleasant What an evil smell!

      Chris,

      What you say makes a lot of sense. It is true that, by the definition
      you quote from the Encarta Dictionary, terrorists (and in particular,
      those who were responsible for 9/11) are evil. Moreover, my Chambers
      English Dictionary (which I actually prefer to the Oxford, even
      though the Oxford is generally considered to be the most
      authoritative source of "standard", "queen's" english) almost
      completely agrees, defining evil as "that which produces unhappiness
      or calamity".

      The difficulty comes in deciding what has actually *produced* the
      unhappiness (ie. the prima causae, if we subscribe to causality,
      which presumably we must in order to settle on the agent responsible,
      whom we are defining as "evil".) It is here that the question of
      perspective comes into play.

      From an European perspective, the primary cause of 11/9 might seem to
      be composed of factors including: religious fanaticism, American
      arrogance/unilateralism/exceptionalism, western economic exploitation
      in general, the lack of democracy in middle eastern countries partly
      itself caused by geopolitics involving oil extraction, a
      post-imperial power vacuum, Zionism, etc. So it is simplistic and, in
      this case, damaging to pick one from the bunch and settle on it as
      being the one sole cause.

      I can see why your arguments tend to drift in this direction. You
      are, after all, a professional attorney. It has to be possible to
      determine prima causae for your work to have any meaning. When a
      court pronounces an accused to be guilty then the corporate reality,
      to which we all subscribe to a greater or lesser extent in order to
      be considered sane, immediately colludes in the judgement and desists
      from questioning it. The mechanics by which this happens is called
      "due process". It is probably our best attempt at justice in this
      temporal realm.

      The land within which a judgement can be enforced on pain of contempt
      charges is called a jurisdiction. When we inhabit a jurisdiction we
      quickly become aware of its parameters. We all collude in it because
      we can see that it is our best bet, even to the extent of ourselves
      accepting a guilty verdict and serving time as sentenced. Many
      criminals even express contrition for the crimes of which they have
      been convicted and by this means tend to be rehabilitated back to
      within the relative freedom of the corporate or consensus reality
      more quickly. It may even be that they are being 'sincere' in this;
      or, as sincere as it will ever be possible for them to be.

      To this extent you and I no doubt agree.

      Where disagreement remains is where we might find the parameters of
      this "jurisdiction" you and I both find ourselves in with regard to
      the definition of the word, "evil".

      Even this caveat is only good for a strictly legalistic
      interpretation of the word, which seeks by "due process" to establish
      prima causae. When it comes to morality or justice, it will be even
      harder to find common ground.

      This is why I would much prefer the leaders of a country to whom my
      country is allied to desist from using such a word while at the same
      time steadfastly rejecting, via unilateralism and exceptionalism,
      possible discussion of the context or jurisdiction within which the
      word may be held to have valid meaning.

      If, on the other hand, we are talking about "might is right" then let
      us not beat about the bush (if you will pardon the pun)

      If coming right out with "might is right" seems to entail burning the
      final bridges of diplomacy then I suggest that continued use of the
      word "evil" to describe Uncle Sam's erswhile enemies is also
      profoundly undiplomatic, and that the interests of civilisation would
      be better served by dropping it forthwith.

      best wishes

      Tommy Beavitt
    • Claude Caspar
      Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Evil Evil is serious unjustified harm inflicted on sentient beings. Two types of evil can be distinguished: ’natural
      Message 2 of 7 , Feb 7, 2002
        Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

        Evil

        Evil is serious unjustified harm inflicted on sentient beings. Two types of
        evil can be distinguished: ’natural evil’, which is the product of nonhuman
        agency, and

        ’moral evil’, which is the product of human agency. Moral thinking tends to
        focus on moral evil, and three main interpretations of it have been made.
        One, initiated

        by Socrates, holds moral evil to be deviation from the good; another,
        favoured by Stoic-Spinozists, views it as illusory; the third, made
        originally by Leibniz, sees it

        as a contrast necessary for the existence of the good. A realistic account
        must face the fact that moral evil does exist, and much of it is due to
        common human vices,

        which coexist with virtues in human character. It is primarily the
        proportion of the mixture, not the knowledge and intentions of agents, that
        determines how much

        evil will be caused by specific individuals in specific contexts.

        1 The nature of evil

        Evil is the most severe condemnation our moral vocabulary allows. Murder,
        torture, enslavement and prolonged humiliation are some examples of it. Evil
        must involve

        harm, and it must be serious enough to damage its victims’ capacity to
        function normally (see Suffering). Furthermore, the harm must be
        unjustified, since not even

        serious harm is in itself necessarily evil, as it may be just punishment for
        crimes committed or the only means of preventing even greater harm (see
        Crime and punishment

        §2). What harm is justified is one of the fundamental questions of moral
        philosophy. The competing answers to it, however, share the key idea of a
        moral equilibrium. In

        general terms, harms that tend to maintain the moral equilibrium are
        justified, while those that tend to produce a disequilibrium are
        unjustified. The generality of this

        explanation allows for disagreements about what count specifically as harms,
        and about how the moral equilibrium can be best maintained.

        Evil may be the product of human or nonhuman agency. Inclement weather that
        causes crop failure and widespread starvation is an example of the latter,
        and it is usually

        described as natural evil. Evil caused by human beings, such as torturing an
        innocent person, is moral. This traditional distinction between natural and
        moral evil is

        useful, but it should not be drawn too sharply because human beings may be
        natural agents, as carriers of a disease, for instance, and evil caused by
        natural agency may

        warrant moral opprobrium, if it was preventable and those responsible for
        doing so failed. Moral thinking nevertheless tends to focus on moral evil,
        since it is much

        more likely to be within human control than natural evil.

        The primary subjects to which moral evil (simply ‘evil’ from now on) may be
        ascribed are human actions. Intentions, agents, and institutions may also be
        evil, but only

        in a derivative sense. For intentions are evil if they lead to evil actions;
        agents are evil if the preponderance of their actions are evil; and
        institutions are evil if they regularly

        prompt agents representing them to perform evil actions. In its primary
        sense, therefore, evil is connected essentially with causing serious
        unjustified harm to sentient

        beings, and since the means by which this is done are human actions, an
        account of evil should begin by concentrating on them.

        It is clear that evil actions are widespread, and that they are responsible
        for much suffering. The obvious explanation of this fact is that human
        beings are motivated by

        greed, cruelty, envy, rage, hatred, and so forth, and evil actions are the
        manifestations of these vices. But this is unilluminating, unless it is
        combined with an explanation

        of why human beings possess and act on vices. To attribute vices to choice
        is a poor explanation, since many vices are the unchosen consequences of
        genetic

        predispositions and corrupting circumstances, and even if vices are the
        results of choices, the question of why vices rather than virtues are chosen
        remains (see Virtues

        and vices §4).

        2 Evil as deviation from the good

        The philosophically most influential explanation of evil is embedded in the
        Socratic view that no one does evil knowingly (see Socrates §6). The thought
        behind the

        apparently obvious falsehood of this claim is that human agents are normally
        guided in their actions by what seems to be good to them. The explanation of
        evil actions

        must therefore be either that the agents are ignorant of the good, and
        perform evil actions in the mistaken belief that they are good, or, while
        they know what the good is,

        they do evil unintentionally, through accident, coercion, or some incapacity
        (see Moral knowledge §1; Akrasia). The remedy for evil, consequently, is
        moral education

        that imparts genuine knowledge of the good and strengthens the intention to
        act on it.

        This Socratic view, however, is driven to rely on a metaphysical assumption
        about the nature of reality and its effect on human aspirations. For, since
        human experience

        of the world testifies that thorough knowledge of the good and good
        intentions are compatible with evil actions, it must be supposed that human
        experiences disclose

        only appearances, not reality. The metaphysical assumption that needs to be
        made, therefore, is: first, that beyond human experiences of the world that
        appears to

        contain chaos and evil, there is a suprasensible true reality, in which a
        moral order prevails; and second, that good lives for human beings depend on
        learning to live in

        conformity to this order, rather than being led astray by deceptive
        appearances. Plato’s Socrates explains evil, therefore, as a deviation from
        the good due to a human

        defect in cognition or intention that leads to mistaking appearance for
        reality.

        This metaphysical assumption and the explanation of evil implied by it has
        passed from Greek thought to Christian theology chiefly through the works of
        Augustine and

        Aquinas. Christianity attributes to an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good
        God the creation of the moral order that permeates reality, and it explains
        the prevalence of evil

        by the corrupting influence of original sin, which leads human beings to
        choose evil over the good, and thereby wilfully or weakly pit themselves
        against God’s moral

        order (see Sin §2). Although Christian thinking about evil has dominated
        Western thought between the Greeks’ time and ours, it nevertheless must be
        seen, if we ignore

        some twists and turns of theological sophistication, as a particular
        adaptation and elaboration of the metaphysical assumption and explanation of
        evil first advanced by

        Plato’s Socrates.

        This metaphysical assumption, however, cannot be reasonably maintained in
        the light of well-known objections, which can only be stated here without
        elaboration. First,

        any evidence that may be cited in favour of the supposed existence of a
        moral order in a supposed suprasensible reality beyond the world as it
        appears to normal human

        observers must be derived from the world as it appears to normal human
        observers, since, as a matter of logic, there is no other possible source of
        evidence. The

        evidence derived from appearances, however, cannot reasonably be taken to
        point to any suprasensible order in reality because the most such evidence
        can imply is that

        human knowledge of the world as it appears is limited and fallible. It is
        logically impossible for evidence to support inferences about what may lie
        beyond all possible

        evidence. Second, if, undeterred by this logical obstacle, defenders of the
        metaphysical assumption pursue their speculations about the implications of
        the evidence, they

        must recognize that evidentially unsupported implications can be derived
        both in favour of and against their assumption. If the existence of a moral
        order in suprasensible

        reality is inferred from observed instances of apparent goodness, then the
        existence of an evil order in suprasensible reality must be analogously
        inferrable from observed

        instances of evil. There is, consequently, no more reason to think of evil
        as deviation from the good than there is to think of the good as deviation
        from evil. Third, even

        if it is assumed for the sake of argument that the metaphysical assumption
        is defensible, it accounts only for moral evil, caused by human failure, and
        not for natural evil,

        whose occurrence cannot be attributed to human agency.

        3 Evil as illusory

        TThe Stoic-Spinozistic view attempts to avoid these objections by denying
        the reality of evil. It acknowledges that evil appears to exist, but its
        appearance is said to be an

        illusion to which human beings succumb through misdirected desires (see
        Spinoza 1677). Such desires cannot be satisfied because they are contrary to
        the moral order

        of reality, which need not be supposed to be suprasensible. If the
        misdirection of these desires is recognized, then the unavoidable experience
        of frustration they cause

        will be seen as emotional detritus that has been misidentified as evil. The
        advantage of the Stoic-Spinozistic view is that if evil were indeed illusory
        rather than real, then

        the objection to the Socratic view that it is incapable of explaining the
        reality of evil would be met (see Spinoza, B. de §10; Stoicism §19).

        The Stoic-Spinozistic view is undoubtedly right in that what appears to be
        evil may not be and that greater self-knowledge and self-control make it
        possible to avoid

        much unnecessary suffering caused by mistaking for evil the frustration of
        misdirected desires. This view, however, is advanced not merely as a
        proposal for alleviating

        some instances of evil, but as an explanation of all evil. And as such, it
        is a failure for several reasons.

        First, it cannot reasonably be held that all desires are misdirected, for
        human nature requires having and satisfying some desires. Rightly directed
        desires, however, are

        often frustrated, their frustration often results in serious unjustified
        harm, and that is real evil which cannot be alleviated by growth in
        self-knowledge and self-control.

        Second, the distinction between real and illusory evil rests on moral
        beliefs, which may be true or false. This view is committed to holding that
        beliefs about the

        occurrence of evil are always false. For if some were true, not all evil
        could be illusory. If, on the other hand, beliefs about the occurrence of
        evil were always false, then

        the belief that torturing innocent people is evil, for instance, would also
        be false. It is, however, a precondition of morality, and indeed of
        civilized life, that such basic

        moral beliefs are regarded as true. The view that all evil is illusory,
        therefore, is incompatible with human nature, morality, and civilized life.

        4 Evil as a contrast necessary for the good

        Another attempt to account for evil is the Leibnizian view that recognizes
        its reality, but argues that the evil that exists is the minimum necessary
        for the existence of the

        good, which far outweighs the amount of evil there is (see Leibniz 1710).
        Evil is thus seen as the cost of the great benefits the good provides (see
        Leibniz, G.W. §3).

        The assumption behind this view is that the good could exist only in
        contrast with evil. But whatever is true of phenomena requiring contrasting
        aspects, it is not true of

        good and evil. It is absurd to suppose that there can be kindness only if
        there is cruelty, or freedom only if there is tyranny. Defenders of this
        view therefore tend

        towards an epistemological sense of the contrast: evil is said to be
        required so that the good could be appreciated as good. The difficulty with
        this is that even if a

        contrast were necessary for appreciation, drawing it would not require the
        existence of evil. The good could be properly appreciated even in contrast
        with imaginative

        depictions of evil. It is, for instance, unnecessary to have people actually
        drawn and quartered in order to maintain a lively appreciation of one’s good
        health. Nor is it

        required for the appreciation of the good that it be contrasted with evil,
        since the neutral or the indifferent would serve as a contrast just as well.
        People’s dying in their

        sleep, without being tortured to death, is sufficient to enhance one’s
        appreciation of the good of being alive.

        5 Facing evil

        It will perhaps be apparent that the various attempts to account for evil
        are not among the highest achievements of Western philosophy. All the
        surveyed accounts begin

        with the assumption that the good is primary and then vainly struggle to
        explain the prevalence of evil. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the
        history of this subject is

        riddled with bad arguments and sentimentalism. A reasonable account of evil
        must acknowledge the reality and prevalence of evil. It must recognize that
        much evil that

        prevents the wellbeing of humanity is caused by human beings who are not
        moral monsters but ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. The
        character of such

        people includes virtues and vices, and a struggle between them (seeVirtues
        and vices §5). Depending on the hardships they face, the traditions and
        institutions that guide

        their conduct, and their capacity, opportunity, and motivation for moral
        reflection, sometimes their virtues and sometimes their vices prevail. Human
        nature is mixed; it is

        neither simply good, nor simply evil. It is primarily the proportion of the
        mixture, not the knowledge and intentions of agents, that determines how
        much evil will be

        caused by specific individuals in specific contexts. The search for a
        metaphysical explanation for this banal fact is a diversion from the morally
        necessary task of

        decreasing evil by improving the conditions and character of individual
        moral agents.

        JOHN KEKES

        AND

        Evil, problem of

        In this context, ‘evil’ is given the widest possible scope to signify all of
        life’s minuses. Within this range, philosophers and theologians distinguish
        ‘moral evils’ such

        as war, betrayal and cruelty from ‘natural evils’ such as earthquakes,
        floods and disease. Usually the inescapability of death is numbered among
        the greatest

        natural evils. The existence of broad-sense evils is obvious and spawns a
        variety of problems, most prominently the practical one of how to cope with
        life and the

        existential one of what sort of meaning human life can have.

        Philosophical discussion has focused on two theoretical difficulties posed
        for biblical theism. First, does the existence of evils show biblical theism
        to be logically

        inconsistent? Is it logically possible for an omnipotent, omniscient and
        perfectly good God to create a world containing evil? One classical response
        to this,

        following Leibniz, is to argue that such a God would create the best of all
        possible worlds, but that such a world may contain evil as an indispensable
        element.

        Alternatively, evil may be an unavoidable consequence of the boon of free
        will, or it may be part of a divine plan to ensure that all souls attain
        perfection.

        The second difficulty for biblical theism is, even if we grant logical
        consistency, does evil (in the form, for instance, of apparently pointless
        suffering) nevertheless

        count as evidence against the existence of the Bible’s God? One frequent
        theistic response here is to argue that the apparent pointlessness of evil
        may be merely a

        result of our limited cognitive powers; things would appear the same to us
        whether or not there were a point, so it is not legitimate to argue from the
        evidence.

        1 Problems of evil

        The so-called ‘logical’ problem of evil rests on the contention that the
        following two claims of biblical theism:

        (I) God exists, and is essentially omnipotent, omniscient and perfectly
        good; and

        (II) evil exists,

        combine with the following plausible attribute analyses:

        (P1) a perfectly good being would always eliminate evil so far as it could;

        (P2) an omniscient being would know all about evils; and

        (P3) there are no limits to what an omnipotent being can do,

        to form an inconsistent quintet, so that the conjunction of any four entails
        the denial of the fifth; most notably the conjunction of (P1)-(P3) with
        either of (I) or (II) entails

        that the other is false.

        Such an argument can be taken aporetically, as a challenge to propose more
        subtle alternatives to (P1)-(P3), but it has usually (in analytical
        philosophy of religion since

        the 1950s) been advanced ‘atheologically’ as an argument against the
        existence of God (see Atheism §4; Natural theology §5). Likewise important
        is the distinction

        between the abstract problem, which takes ‘evil’ in (II) to refer generally
        to some evil or other (say the pain of a single hangnail), and the concrete
        problem, which

        construes (II) as shorthand for the existence of evils in the amounts and of
        the kinds and with the distribution found in the actual world. While the
        abstract problem

        raises a question of conceptual interest, it is the concrete version that
        gives the issue its bite.

        Bold responses deny (P3), maintaining variously that God cannot overcome
        certain natural necessities (like Plato’s Demiurge), that he cannot conquer
        his evil twin (as in

        Manichean dualism), or even that he lacks the power to compel at all (see
        Process theism §2). Some reject (P2), observing that many evils arise from
        free choice, while

        future contingents are in principle unknowable (see Omniscience §4). (P1) is
        the most obviously vulnerable because it is contrary to the common intuition
        that ignorance

        and weakness excuse, and is best replaced with:

        (P4) it is logically impossible for an omniscient, omnipotent being to have
        a reason compatible with perfect goodness for permitting (bringing about)
        evils.

        Rebuttals seek to counterexemplify (P4) by identifying logically possible
        reasons available even to an omniscient, omnipotent God.

        2 Logically necessary connections with greater goods

        Since omnipotence is not bound by causally necessary connections, it is
        natural to look for reasons among the logically necessary connections of
        evils with greater

        goods. Because the piecemeal approach of correlating distinctive sorts of
        good with different kinds of evil (for example, courage with danger,
        forgiveness with injury)

        threatens to be endless, it seems advantageous to identify a single
        comprehensive good that logically integrates all ills. One promising
        strategy takes its inspiration from

        Leibniz and develops his ‘best of all possible worlds’ (‘BPW’) theodicy in
        terms of contemporary possible-worlds semantics (see Leibniz, G.W. §3; Modal
        logic,

        philosophical issues in §1). If a possible world is a maximal consistent
        state of affairs, each of infinitely many constitutive details is essential
        to the possible world of

        which it is a part. Assuming (P5) that possible worlds as wholes have values
        (P6) that can be ranked relative to one another and (P7) that the value
        scale has a maximum

        (P8) occupied by one and only one world, one can interpret divine creation
        in terms of actualizing a possible world and reason (P9) that necessarily an
        essentially

        omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good God would actualize the best.
        Given the further controversial claim that:

        (P10) the BPW contains instances of evil as logically indispensable
        components,

        it follows that the desire to create the BPW is a reason compossible with
        perfect goodness for God not to prevent or eliminate all instances of evil.

        (P10) contradicts our prima facie intuition that the BPW should be
        homogeneously good. Defenders of BPW approaches (see Chisholm 1968)
        distinguish two ways in

        which value-parts may be related to value-wholes. The one presupposed by the
        critics is simply additive: negatively and positively valued parts simply
        ‘balance off’ one

        another and the inclusion of any ‘minuses’ inevitably lowers the value
        total. By contrast, parts may be integrated into wholes by relations of
        organic unity, in such a way

        that the positive value of the whole may defeat the negative value of the
        part (for example, the way the beauty of Monet’s design defeats the ugliness
        of some colour

        patches). (P10) envisages the defeat of evil within the context of the
        possible world as a whole.

        Leibniz thought he could prove the necessity of (P10) on the basis of his a
        priori arguments for the necessity of (I) and (P9); he believed that (P10)
        followed from the

        fact that God had actualized this world. Yet (P10) seems to fall into that
        class of propositions that are logically possible if and only if logically
        necessary. Those who

        recognize no sound demonstrations of (I) are left to claim that (P10) is
        epistemically possible. Since the atheologian is in the same epistemic
        predicament with respect to

        (P10), this epistemic defence would be sufficient ceteris paribus to
        discharge the burden of proof imposed on the theist by the argument from
        evil.

        This BPW approach makes several other debatable value-theory assumptions.
        Augustine’s notion (contra P8) that many alternative worlds have maximum
        value imposes

        no damage. Aquinas’ insistence (contra P7) that for every collection of
        creatures there is a better one would not be crippling if every possible
        world above a certain

        value-level included evil. The rejection of (P5) and (P6), however, would be
        fatal for BPW approaches. Some question whether our comparative evaluations
        of

        small-scale states of affairs (for example, Jones’ enjoying a symphony as
        better than his experiencing excruciating pain) is good evidence that the
        values of maximal

        states of affairs form a hierarchy. More fundamentally, some have argued
        (contra P5) that states of affairs are not intrinsically good or bad,
        although they can be good or

        bad for certain persons or projects and can ground different moral
        evaluations by particular agents. Anti-consequentialists in ethics also
        challenge whether (P9) follows

        from (P5)-(P8) (see Consequentialism). Deontologists would let justice to
        individuals trump putative increases in the value of states of affairs (see
        Deontological ethics).

        Could creating the BPW be a reason compossible with perfect goodness for
        permitting suffering and degradation for the relatively innocent? Even if
        such

        value-maximizing were compatible with perfect goodness, it is not obviously
        required. For example, divine goodness is often interpreted as grace, a
        disposition to show

        favour independently of merit.

        Finally, this modified Leibnizian approach entails divine determinism,
        because in choosing which of infinitely many fully determinate possible
        worlds to actualize, God is

        deciding on each and every detail. Some find this theologically
        objectionable, either because it seems incongruous for God to hold created
        persons responsible to

        himself for actions he determined, or because it fails to put enough
        distance between evil and divine aims.

        3 Free-will defences

        The last-mentioned worries are well accommodated by the other main
        traditional theme - that (some or all) evil originates in the wrong or evil
        choices of free creatures.

        Free-will approaches contend that:

        (A1) created free will is a very great good, whether intrinsically or as a
        necessary means to God’s central purposes in creation;

        (A2) God cannot fulfil his purposes for and with free creatures without
        accepting the possibility that some will misuse their freedom, thereby
        introducing evil into the

        world.

        In classical developments of this defence, (A1) is supposed to be a reason
        compossible with perfect goodness for making free creatures, while (A2) is
        compatible with

        the claim that evil is not necessary to the perfection of the universe or
        any other divine purpose. Some or all evil is not something God causes or
        does, but something he

        allows, a (perhaps) known but unintended side effect of his aims. The
        introduction of evil into the world is explained by the doctrine of ‘the
        Fall’, according to which

        God made angelic and human free agents in naturally optimal condition and
        placed them in utopian environments. God wanted them freely to choose what
        is right or

        good, but some angels and the primordial humans Adam and Eve chose what is
        wrong, thereby actualizing the possibility of evil.

        Contemporary attention (beginning with Plantinga) has turned away from
        free-will defences based on the principles of double effect and
        doing-allowing - the principle

        that agents are not as responsible for the known but unintended side effects
        of their actions as they are for their chosen means and ends; that they are
        not as responsible

        for what they allow as for what they do - to others that reconnect with
        possible-worlds semantics (see Double effect, principle of). Once again, God
        creates by

        actualizing a possible world, but freedom is now taken to be incompatible
        with determinism, with the consequence that God and free creatures
        collaborate in determining

        which possible world becomes actual. Created freedom does not so much
        ‘distance’ God from evils as limit which worlds God can create. As with BPW
        approaches,

        God evaluates possible worlds as to their global features - (P5) and (P6)
        are assumed true, although not necessarily (P7) and (P8) - but this time he
        evaluates those that

        are a function of created incompatibilist-free choice: for example, a very
        good world with the optimal balance of created moral goodness over moral
        evil.

        In defence of (A2), both classical and possible-worlds approaches appeal
        first to the notion that not even God can cause someone else’s
        incompatibilist-free choices.

        To the objection that God should use his foreknowledge to actualize only
        incompatibilist-free creatures who will never sin, free-will defenders reply
        that such

        foreknowledge is not prior in the order of explanation to God’s decision to
        create. To the suggestion that God should use his middle knowledge of what
        free creatures

        would do in particular circumstances, some (notably Plantinga 1974) grant
        that such counterfactuals of freedom can be true, but argue that it is
        logically possible that all

        incompatibilist-free creatures be ‘transworld depraved’ - that is, that no
        matter which combinations of individuals and circumstances God actualized,
        each would go

        wrong at least once - and logically possible that any world containing as
        much moral goodness as the actual world would also include at least as much
        moral evil as the

        actual world contains. Thus, it is logically possible that God could not
        create a world with a better balance of moral good over moral evil - which
        would be a reason

        compossible with perfect goodness for his not doing so.

        This ingenious argument is controverted both by those who agree and those
        who deny that counterfactuals of freedom can be true. Among the former,
        Suárez (§1)

        defends middle knowledge but arguably finds transworld depravity impossible
        because of God’s necessary resourcefulness, which he takes to have the
        following

        implication: necessarily, for any possible person and any situation in which
        they can exist, there are some helps of grace that would (should God supply
        them) win the

        creature over without compromising its incompatibilist freedom. Others
        (notably R.M. Adams 1977) wonder what could make such counterfactuals true
        about creatures

        considered as merely possible. Incompatibilist freedom rules out divine
        choices or any native features of the creative will. To appeal to a
        contingent condition (habitudo,

        or primitive property) independent of both is too close for comfort to the
        ancient doctrine of fate that falls alike on the gods and their creatures,
        and contradicts

        traditional Christian views of divine providence (see Providence §1). To
        maintain that counterfactuals of freedom are true although there is nothing
        to make them true

        violates a correspondence theory of truth (see Truth, correspondence theory
        of). Denying truth to such counterfactuals of freedom does not automatically
        put (A2) clear

        of the objection from omniscience, however, if God could know about merely
        possible creatures what they probably would do in any given circumstance.
        But the

        meaning and ground of such probability assessments is at least as
        problematic as that of the original counterfactuals (see R.M. Adams 1977,
        1985).

        Even if (A2) were unproblematic, it could still be asked whether (A1)
        necessarily constitutes a reason compossible with perfect goodness for
        allowing evils. Two

        dimensions of divine goodness may be distinguished: ‘global’ goodness and
        goodness to individual created persons. The possible-worlds approaches cite
        global

        features - ‘the best of all possible worlds’, ‘a world a more perfect than
        which is impossible’, ‘a world exhibiting a perfect balance of retributive
        justice’, ‘a world with

        as favourable a balance as God can get of created moral good over moral evil
        ’ - by way of producing some generic and comprehensive reason for allowing
        evil. But

        worlds with evils in the amounts and of the kind and with the distribution
        found in the actual world contain horrendous evils - evils the participation
        in (the doing or

        suffering of) which gives one prima facie reason to doubt whether one’s life
        could (given their inclusion in it) be a great good to one on the whole -
        unevenly distributed

        among humans and uncorrelated with variations in desert. Even if horrors
        thus apportioned were epistemically compatible with global perfections,
        these defences of

        divine goodness as a producer of global perfection would not so much
        guarantee as raise doubts about God’s goodness to individual participants in
        horrors. Divine

        goodness to them would require God to defeat the disvalue of horrors not
        only within the context of the world as a whole, but also within the
        framework of the

        individual participant’s life. Nor will precise individual retribution fit
        this bill where the perpetrators of horrors are concerned. ‘Balancing’
        horror with horror only

        deepens the difficulty. Some Christians bite this bullet, insisting that
        decisive defeat of evil is promised only to the obedient, while the wicked
        can expect the reverse, a

        decisive defeat of positive meaning in their lives in the form of eternal
        damnation. Others insist that the doctrine of hell only makes matters worse
        by giving rise to a

        specialized version of the problem of evil (see Hell).

        4 Divine goodness to creatures

        Soul-making theodicies try to fill the explanatory gap regarding divine
        goodness to individual created persons by adding further hypotheses as to
        what they might get out

        of existence in an environment in which they are so vulnerable to sin,
        suffering and horrors. Some versions stipulate:

        (A3) God’s purpose in creation culminates in a process of spiritual
        development in which autonomous created persons with their own free
        participation are perfected,

        and transformed from self-centred to other-centred, God-centred, Christlike
        or otherwise virtuous souls; and

        (A4) environmental evils are permitted because they create an environment
        favourable to soul-making.

        (A3) is compatible both with the notion that humans are initially created
        with mature unobstructed agency and so are fully responsible for their
        choices, and with the

        alternative idea (retrieved from Irenaeus by Hick (1966)) that human agency
        began immature, so that sin was to be expected in the course of the
        ‘growing-up’ process.

        The idea is that life in a world with evils such as this is, or with created
        cooperation can be, ‘good for the soul’.

        Establishing (A4) is difficult thrice over because: (i) the task shatters
        into piecemeal cataloguing, with separate demonstrations for each sub-type
        of environmental evil;

        (ii) relevant necessary connections with the soul-making environment can be
        hard to show; and (iii) experience makes it prima facie implausible that a
        world with evils

        such as ours is a good classroom for the soul. In response to (ii), some
        (notably Hick 1966) ingeniously contend that ‘dysteleological’ evils lend an
        air of mystery which

        is itself favourable to soul-making. Others (for example, Stump 1985) modify
        (A4) to acknowledge that some environmental evils are consequences of sin.

        Where God’s soul-making purpose succeeds, it is easy to see how the painful
        journey is worth the individual’s while. What about where it fails? Some
        (especially

        Swinburne 1983) reply that the dignity of self-determination is enough,
        whatever the outcome. The credibility of this contention varies with one’s
        estimate of the

        robustness of human nature as well as one’s conception of the natural or
        punitive consequences of repeated bad choices. Pessimists argue that
        ante-mortem

        participation in horrors makes a mockery of human self-determination; a
        fortiori, so does decisive personal ruin in hell.

        Others (notably Hick 1966) embrace a doctrine of universal salvation: if
        ante-mortem horrors remain undefeated between birth and the grave, education
        will continue after

        death, probably in a series of careers, until the soul is perfected and
        brought into intimacy with God. Thus, God does guarantee each created person
        an overall existence

        that is a great good to them on the whole, one in which participation in
        horrors is balanced by the incommensurate goodness of intimacy with God. Are
        such horrors

        likewise defeated within the context of the individual’s existence? The
        stout of heart might say ‘yes’, because participation in horrors that remain
        undefeated within the

        individual’s ante-mortem career contributes to the sense of mystery that
        makes a positive contribution to the soul-making of others. Since one is at
        least the agent-cause

        of the willy-nilly sacrifice of one’s ante-mortem good, participation in
        horrors would constitute some sort of shift from self- to other- or
        God-centredness after all. Even

        if this putative positive dimension of participation in horrors is swamped
        by its negative aspect when considered within the framework of the
        individual’s ante-mortem

        career, it provides a means for participation in horrors to be integrated
        into the overall development that gives positive meaning to the individual’s
        life and thus defeated

        within the context of the individual’s existence as a whole.

        Some (notably M.M. Adams) contend, on the contrary, that divine goodness to
        created persons would do more to lend positive meaning to any careers in
        which they

        participate in horrors. The sacrifice involved in participation in horrors
        is pedagogically inept as a first lesson because it can damage the person so
        much as to make

        much further ante-mortem progress from self- to other- or God-centredness
        virtually impossible. This combines with the delay in gratification to
        another or perhaps

        many lives later to de-emphasize the importance of this life, leaving the
        impression that it would have been better skipped by those whose spiritual
        development was

        significantly set back through participation in horrors. To give this life,
        or any career involving participation in horrors, positive significance,
        some parameter of positive

        meaning other than contribution to soul-making must be found. Given two
        further assumptions - that divine metaphysical goodness is infinite, and
        that intimacy with God

        is incommensurably good for created persons - the mystical literature
        suggests several ways for participation in horrors to be integrated into the
        created person’s

        relationship with God, ranging from divine gratitude for one’s earthly
        career to various types of mystical identification between God and creatures
        in the midst of

        horrors. Because the identification occurs in this life and divine gratitude
        is for this life, they add positive significance to this life even where the
        creature has no

        ante-mortem but only postmortem recognition of these facts.

        5 Methodological notes

        Much contemporary discussion of BPW and free-will defences has addressed
        itself to the logical problem of evil because we seem epistemically in a
        better position to

        assess the compossibility of logically possible reasons with various
        conceptions of perfect goodness than to pronounce on what God’s actual
        reasons are. In identifying

        logically possible defeaters, many of the earlier discussions (including
        those by Pike (1963) and Plantinga (1974)) confine themselves to a
        religion-neutral value theory,

        the better to answer the atheologian on their own turf. By contrast,
        soul-making, mystical and other explanatory theodicies draw on the resources
        of revelation for their

        speculations about God’s actual reasons for the evils of this world and
        usually address their remarks in the first instance to the believing
        community. The distinction

        between these approaches blurs when attention is riveted on the concrete
        logical problem of evil - that is, on the logical compossibility of God with
        evils in the amounts

        and of the kinds and with the distribution found in the actual world. In so
        far as the consistency of actual religious belief is at stake, it becomes
        highly relevant to test the

        reasons supplied by revelation for logical compossibility with the existence
        of evils and the goodness of God. Where they pass, they can be advanced as
        solving the

        concrete logical problem of evil, whether or not their truth can be proved
        to the atheologian.

        Once the wider resources of the religions under attack are allowed to
        interpret (I) and (II), it becomes clear that explanatory reasons come in
        two broad types: reasons

        why God causes or permits evils, and does not prevent or eliminate them; and
        explanations as to how God could be good to created persons despite their
        participation

        in evil. Reasons-why identify some great-enough good with which evils are
        necessarily connected, while reasons-how specify ways God could defeat evils
        in which the

        created person has participated and thus give that person a life that is a
        great good to them on the whole. Much philosophical discussion (Swinburne is
        particularly

        insistent on this point) presupposes that the problem cannot be solved
        without sufficient reasons-why. The criticized religions arguably take a
        mixed approach.

        Assuming that what perfect goodness can permit or cause is a function of
        what it can defeat, they combine partial reasons-why with elaborate
        scenarios by which God

        defeats even the worst horrors.

        6 The evidential problem of evil

        Recently many philosophers (notably Rowe, Alston, van Inwagen and Wykstra)
        have concluded that the most serious version of the problem of evil concerns
        not the

        logical but the evidential relation between (I) and (II). The mere logical
        possibility that a student has broken all four limbs and been hospitalized
        for a heart attack will win

        them no extension of essay deadlines if the tutor can see that the student
        is in fact physically sound. Likewise, the evidential argument contends,
        many actual evils - such

        as the slow, painful death of a fawn severely burned in a forest fire
        started by lightning - appear pointless, in the sense that our composite
        empirical evidence constitutes

        strong reason to believe they have no point. But an omniscient, omnipotent
        being could have prevented some of them, while a perfectly good being would
        not allow or

        cause any of them it could avoid. Therefore, (II) concretely construed
        constitutes decisive evidence against (I).

        Once again, replies could take the piecemeal approach, trying to show for
        each type of very intense suffering that it has a discernible point after
        all. It would not be

        necessary to complete the process to undermine the evidential argument.
        Success with some important cases would increase the probability that
        defeating goods are also

        present in other cases where we have not discovered any (see Suffering §4).

        The favourite response (for example, by Wykstra, Alston and van Inwagen)
        attacks the argument at its epistemological foundations. The contention is
        that our

        composite empirical evidence could constitute strong reason to believe some
        actual evils pointless only if our cognitive powers would afford access to
        any point such

        evils might have were they to have one. If things would seem roughly the
        same to us (that is, if our evidence would be roughly the same) whether or
        not such evils had a

        point, the fact that we detect no point is not good evidence that there is
        no point. In particular, we are in no position to see that many instances of
        intense suffering are

        not explained by some of the reasons appealed to in traditional theodicies.

        Defenders of the evidential argument (notably Rowe) grant the appeal of the
        underlying evidential principle, but relocate the disagreement in the
        richness of the

        theological hypothesis on which one draws. They argue that if one restricts
        oneself to a straightforward philosophical reading of (I), then it is likely
        that the situation with

        regard to intense suffering would be different in ways discernible by us.
        Expanded theism might import assumptions about the hiddenness of divine
        providence, mystical

        identification with suffering creatures, etc., but deploying these resources
        in the evidential debate carries a cost, because the prior probability of
        expanded theism is

        lower than that of (I).

        This last point holds only if the richer theological theory is advanced as
        true. If instead it is used, as with the logical problem, to generate
        possible - this time not merely

        logically but epistemically possible - explanations, then no dilution in
        prior probabilities need be accepted. And once again, the more epistemically
        possible explanations

        there are, the greater the probability that the suffering in question is not
        pointless.

        See also: Evil; God, arguments for the existence of; Goodness, perfect;
        Holocaust, the; Liberation theology; Religion and epistemology

        MARILYN McCORD ADAMS

        Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Version 1.0, London: Routledge




        -----Original Message-----
        From: Tommy Beavitt [mailto:tommy@...]
        Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2002 9:31 AM
        To: Sartre@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [Sartre] What's Wrong With "Evil"?


        At 11:11 am -0800 6/2/02, Christopher Bobo wrote:
        >Yet "evil" is a legimate word in the English language. The Encarta
        >Dictionary defines it as meaning: e·vil [v'l ] adjective 1.
        >morally bad: profoundly immoral or wrong;
        >
        >2. harmful: deliberately causing great harm, pain, or upset This
        >evil act is clearly the work of terrorists.; 3. devilish:
        >connected with the Devil or other powerful destructive forces evil
        >spirits ; 4. causing misfortune: characterized by, bringing, or
        >signifying bad luck an evil omen ; 5. malicious: characterized by
        >a desire to cause hurt or harm an evil mood;
        >6. disagreeable: very unpleasant What an evil smell!

        Chris,

        What you say makes a lot of sense. It is true that, by the definition
        you quote from the Encarta Dictionary, terrorists (and in particular,
        those who were responsible for 9/11) are evil. Moreover, my Chambers
        English Dictionary (which I actually prefer to the Oxford, even
        though the Oxford is generally considered to be the most
        authoritative source of "standard", "queen's" english) almost
        completely agrees, defining evil as "that which produces unhappiness
        or calamity".

        The difficulty comes in deciding what has actually *produced* the
        unhappiness (ie. the prima causae, if we subscribe to causality,
        which presumably we must in order to settle on the agent responsible,
        whom we are defining as "evil".) It is here that the question of
        perspective comes into play.

        From an European perspective, the primary cause of 11/9 might seem to
        be composed of factors including: religious fanaticism, American
        arrogance/unilateralism/exceptionalism, western economic exploitation
        in general, the lack of democracy in middle eastern countries partly
        itself caused by geopolitics involving oil extraction, a
        post-imperial power vacuum, Zionism, etc. So it is simplistic and, in
        this case, damaging to pick one from the bunch and settle on it as
        being the one sole cause.

        I can see why your arguments tend to drift in this direction. You
        are, after all, a professional attorney. It has to be possible to
        determine prima causae for your work to have any meaning. When a
        court pronounces an accused to be guilty then the corporate reality,
        to which we all subscribe to a greater or lesser extent in order to
        be considered sane, immediately colludes in the judgement and desists
        from questioning it. The mechanics by which this happens is called
        "due process". It is probably our best attempt at justice in this
        temporal realm.

        The land within which a judgement can be enforced on pain of contempt
        charges is called a jurisdiction. When we inhabit a jurisdiction we
        quickly become aware of its parameters. We all collude in it because
        we can see that it is our best bet, even to the extent of ourselves
        accepting a guilty verdict and serving time as sentenced. Many
        criminals even express contrition for the crimes of which they have
        been convicted and by this means tend to be rehabilitated back to
        within the relative freedom of the corporate or consensus reality
        more quickly. It may even be that they are being 'sincere' in this;
        or, as sincere as it will ever be possible for them to be.

        To this extent you and I no doubt agree.

        Where disagreement remains is where we might find the parameters of
        this "jurisdiction" you and I both find ourselves in with regard to
        the definition of the word, "evil".

        Even this caveat is only good for a strictly legalistic
        interpretation of the word, which seeks by "due process" to establish
        prima causae. When it comes to morality or justice, it will be even
        harder to find common ground.

        This is why I would much prefer the leaders of a country to whom my
        country is allied to desist from using such a word while at the same
        time steadfastly rejecting, via unilateralism and exceptionalism,
        possible discussion of the context or jurisdiction within which the
        word may be held to have valid meaning.

        If, on the other hand, we are talking about "might is right" then let
        us not beat about the bush (if you will pardon the pun)

        If coming right out with "might is right" seems to entail burning the
        final bridges of diplomacy then I suggest that continued use of the
        word "evil" to describe Uncle Sam's erswhile enemies is also
        profoundly undiplomatic, and that the interests of civilisation would
        be better served by dropping it forthwith.

        best wishes

        Tommy Beavitt







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        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Christopher Bobo
        Hi Tommy: Just a brief historical remark. The last time a U.S. President declared something evil--Ronald Reagan declaring the Soviet Union and Evil
        Message 3 of 7 , Feb 7, 2002
          Hi Tommy:

          Just a brief historical remark. The last time a U.S. President declared something evil--Ronald Reagan declaring the Soviet Union and Evil Empire--there was just as much uproar and outcry. Of course, he was right--just a Bush about Al Qaeda. Reagan stuck to his guns and I hope Bush will too. We vanquished the Soviets and we'll take care of Al Qaeda too, diplomatic niceties aside. I really think I've come to the view that the Europeans should calm down, stop carping, get out of the way, and let America do the heavy historical lifting.

          Tell me, if we have to look at this complex picture of poverty, exploitation, etc as causes of terrorism--would the Africans, Asians, Indians etc. also be justified in your mind in employing terrorism to address their grievances?

          Regards,
          Chris

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Tommy Beavitt
          Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2002 9:08 AM
          To: Sartre@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [Sartre] What's Wrong With "Evil"?

          What you say makes a lot of sense. It is true that, by the definition
          you quote from the Encarta Dictionary, terrorists (and in particular,
          those who were responsible for 9/11) are evil. Moreover, my Chambers
          English Dictionary (which I actually prefer to the Oxford, even
          though the Oxford is generally considered to be the most
          authoritative source of "standard", "queen's" english) almost
          completely agrees, defining evil as "that which produces unhappiness
          or calamity".

          The difficulty comes in deciding what has actually *produced* the
          unhappiness (ie. the prima causae, if we subscribe to causality,
          which presumably we must in order to settle on the agent responsible,
          whom we are defining as "evil".) It is here that the question of
          perspective comes into play.

          From an European perspective, the primary cause of 11/9 might seem to
          be composed of factors including: religious fanaticism, American
          arrogance/unilateralism/exceptionalism, western economic exploitation
          in general, the lack of democracy in middle eastern countries partly
          itself caused by geopolitics involving oil extraction, a
          post-imperial power vacuum, Zionism, etc. So it is simplistic and, in
          this case, damaging to pick one from the bunch and settle on it as
          being the one sole cause.

          I can see why your arguments tend to drift in this direction. You
          are, after all, a professional attorney. It has to be possible to
          determine prima causae for your work to have any meaning. When a
          court pronounces an accused to be guilty then the corporate reality,
          to which we all subscribe to a greater or lesser extent in order to
          be considered sane, immediately colludes in the judgement and desists
          from questioning it. The mechanics by which this happens is called
          "due process". It is probably our best attempt at justice in this
          temporal realm.

          The land within which a judgement can be enforced on pain of contempt
          charges is called a jurisdiction. When we inhabit a jurisdiction we
          quickly become aware of its parameters. We all collude in it because
          we can see that it is our best bet, even to the extent of ourselves
          accepting a guilty verdict and serving time as sentenced. Many
          criminals even express contrition for the crimes of which they have
          been convicted and by this means tend to be rehabilitated back to
          within the relative freedom of the corporate or consensus reality
          more quickly. It may even be that they are being 'sincere' in this;
          or, as sincere as it will ever be possible for them to be.

          To this extent you and I no doubt agree.

          Where disagreement remains is where we might find the parameters of
          this "jurisdiction" you and I both find ourselves in with regard to
          the definition of the word, "evil".

          Even this caveat is only good for a strictly legalistic
          interpretation of the word, which seeks by "due process" to establish
          prima causae. When it comes to morality or justice, it will be even
          harder to find common ground.

          This is why I would much prefer the leaders of a country to whom my
          country is allied to desist from using such a word while at the same
          time steadfastly rejecting, via unilateralism and exceptionalism,
          possible discussion of the context or jurisdiction within which the
          word may be held to have valid meaning.

          If, on the other hand, we are talking about "might is right" then let
          us not beat about the bush (if you will pardon the pun)

          If coming right out with "might is right" seems to entail burning the
          final bridges of diplomacy then I suggest that continued use of the
          word "evil" to describe Uncle Sam's erswhile enemies is also
          profoundly undiplomatic, and that the interests of civilisation would
          be better served by dropping it forthwith.

          best wishes

          Tommy Beavitt


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • james tan
          bush described n. korea, iraq, and iran as axis of evil . while i can understand why he used that word evil on the teleban and the al-qeda network (bush
          Message 4 of 7 , Feb 7, 2002
            bush described n. korea, iraq, and iran as "axis of evil". while i can
            understand why he used that word "evil" on the teleban and the al-qeda
            network (bush just looked at what they did without attemmpting to see the
            origin of it as tommy would; for tommy, is it less "evil" if we can
            understand the origin of their "evil" actions?), and while i understand
            these three countries are building weapons of mass destruction that has the
            capacity to destroy civilised world, are iraq, iran, and n. korea as
            dangerous as the axis powers of 60 yrs ago? is the usa about to adopot a
            policy of "unconditional surrender" towards them? if so, what was washington
            doing talking to teheran after sep 11, seeking its cooperation in the afgan
            campaign? what was the former clinton adminstratoin doing seeking better
            relations with n. korea, a policy the current adminstration has not
            altogether foreclosed? is the usa looking for war, after the victory at the
            teleban? is the usa being careful with words when she used something like
            "axis" and "evil"?

            james.


            From: "Christopher Bobo" <cbobo@...>
            Reply-To: Sartre@yahoogroups.com
            To: "Sartre_yahoogr" <Sartre@yahoogroups.com>
            Subject: Re: [Sartre] What's Wrong With "Evil"?
            Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 17:54:20 -0800

            Hi Tommy:

            Just a brief historical remark. The last time a U.S. President declared
            something evil--Ronald Reagan declaring the Soviet Union and Evil
            Empire--there was just as much uproar and outcry. Of course, he was
            right--just a Bush about Al Qaeda. Reagan stuck to his guns and I hope Bush
            will too. We vanquished the Soviets and we'll take care of Al Qaeda too,
            diplomatic niceties aside. I really think I've come to the view that the
            Europeans should calm down, stop carping, get out of the way, and let
            America do the heavy historical lifting.

            Tell me, if we have to look at this complex picture of poverty,
            exploitation, etc as causes of terrorism--would the Africans, Asians,
            Indians etc. also be justified in your mind in employing terrorism to
            address their grievances?

            Regards,
            Chris

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Tommy Beavitt
            Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2002 9:08 AM
            To: Sartre@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [Sartre] What's Wrong With "Evil"?

            What you say makes a lot of sense. It is true that, by the definition
            you quote from the Encarta Dictionary, terrorists (and in particular,
            those who were responsible for 9/11) are evil. Moreover, my Chambers
            English Dictionary (which I actually prefer to the Oxford, even
            though the Oxford is generally considered to be the most
            authoritative source of "standard", "queen's" english) almost
            completely agrees, defining evil as "that which produces unhappiness
            or calamity".

            The difficulty comes in deciding what has actually *produced* the
            unhappiness (ie. the prima causae, if we subscribe to causality,
            which presumably we must in order to settle on the agent responsible,
            whom we are defining as "evil".) It is here that the question of
            perspective comes into play.

            From an European perspective, the primary cause of 11/9 might seem to
            be composed of factors including: religious fanaticism, American
            arrogance/unilateralism/exceptionalism, western economic exploitation
            in general, the lack of democracy in middle eastern countries partly
            itself caused by geopolitics involving oil extraction, a
            post-imperial power vacuum, Zionism, etc. So it is simplistic and, in
            this case, damaging to pick one from the bunch and settle on it as
            being the one sole cause.

            I can see why your arguments tend to drift in this direction. You
            are, after all, a professional attorney. It has to be possible to
            determine prima causae for your work to have any meaning. When a
            court pronounces an accused to be guilty then the corporate reality,
            to which we all subscribe to a greater or lesser extent in order to
            be considered sane, immediately colludes in the judgement and desists
            from questioning it. The mechanics by which this happens is called
            "due process". It is probably our best attempt at justice in this
            temporal realm.

            The land within which a judgement can be enforced on pain of contempt
            charges is called a jurisdiction. When we inhabit a jurisdiction we
            quickly become aware of its parameters. We all collude in it because
            we can see that it is our best bet, even to the extent of ourselves
            accepting a guilty verdict and serving time as sentenced. Many
            criminals even express contrition for the crimes of which they have
            been convicted and by this means tend to be rehabilitated back to
            within the relative freedom of the corporate or consensus reality
            more quickly. It may even be that they are being 'sincere' in this;
            or, as sincere as it will ever be possible for them to be.

            To this extent you and I no doubt agree.

            Where disagreement remains is where we might find the parameters of
            this "jurisdiction" you and I both find ourselves in with regard to
            the definition of the word, "evil".

            Even this caveat is only good for a strictly legalistic
            interpretation of the word, which seeks by "due process" to establish
            prima causae. When it comes to morality or justice, it will be even
            harder to find common ground.

            This is why I would much prefer the leaders of a country to whom my
            country is allied to desist from using such a word while at the same
            time steadfastly rejecting, via unilateralism and exceptionalism,
            possible discussion of the context or jurisdiction within which the
            word may be held to have valid meaning.

            If, on the other hand, we are talking about "might is right" then let
            us not beat about the bush (if you will pardon the pun)

            If coming right out with "might is right" seems to entail burning the
            final bridges of diplomacy then I suggest that continued use of the
            word "evil" to describe Uncle Sam's erswhile enemies is also
            profoundly undiplomatic, and that the interests of civilisation would
            be better served by dropping it forthwith.

            best wishes

            Tommy Beavitt


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]









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          • Tommy Beavitt
            At 12:56 pm -0500 7/2/02, Claude Caspar wrote, with regard to the ... I think maybe the bit where I am getting stuck is in the concept of innocence. Is
            Message 5 of 7 , Feb 8, 2002
              At 12:56 pm -0500 7/2/02, Claude Caspar wrote, with regard to the
              distinction between natural and moral evil:
              >Evil caused by human beings, such as torturing an
              >innocent person, is moral.

              I think maybe the bit where I am getting stuck is in the concept of
              innocence. Is innocence not simply a synonym for ignorance?

              The agent who bear arms in a cause, like a soldier or a terrorist,
              has an explicit part in a war. As he or she cuts throats or drops
              daisy cutters s/he can see the evil that is being done.

              On the other hand, the investment banker, general or religious
              inciter who clinches a deal, plots a strategy or exhorts believers to
              martyrdom causes thousands to suffer or die with a motion of his hand
              but is not present at their deaths. Can he excuse himself and plead
              "innocence" when the balance of power shifts and retribution is
              demanded?

              And then there are the men, women and children on whose behalf these
              decisions are ostensibly made, who watch TV, demand retribution,
              teach their children the names and descriptions of those whom they
              must distrust and hate.

              Let us suspend our moral scepticism for a moment, placing to one side
              the question of whether or not it can be said that one side is in the
              right, and consider the innocence or degrees of involvement in evil
              of these three classes of persons.

              Do we say that the soldier may be tortured if he has fought on the
              wrong side or used unconventional methods while the religious leader
              may not?

              And what of those citizens who vote for or follow leaders who say,
              "extirpate evil"? Are they less enmeshed in, more innocent to evil
              than others who are caused to bear arms as a result of their
              political choices or fervour? When it is their own fellow citizens
              who are being extirpated based on some prior definition of evil such
              as belonging to a banned terrorist organisation or working for global
              corporations in the World Trade Centre do they not experience the
              extirpation as the evil itself?

              Who are the innocent if not the ignorant?

              Tommy
            • james tan
              bill, it is the way evil is used by the bush team which seems to give them the moral justification to engage in events that may disrupt peace. it is one
              Message 6 of 7 , Feb 11, 2002
                bill,

                it is the way "evil" is used by the bush team which seems to give them the
                moral justification to engage in events that may disrupt peace. it is one
                thing to use it on the 911 terrorist attack, quite another on countries like
                n. korea, etc. how u attribute will decide how u will act on it.

                james.


                From: "Bill Harris" <bhvwd@...>
                Reply-To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
                Subject: Re: [existlist] What's Wrong With "Evil"?
                Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 09:33:09 -0600

                James, Not much philosophy in that post. perhaps philosophy might be
                related to real world diciplines I.E. politics. Speaking from inside the
                bushes so to speak it is better to whisper with caution. You more free
                beings outside the empire might do the world a service by speaking out yet
                you could be entertaining special ops people for who has defined terrorism?
                Hegemony in the hands of a fair player like Clinton was of less concern
                than the present situation. One man one vote democracy has been dead here
                since the Kennedy assination. Bush is a team player, you just dont
                understand what team he is playing for or how it will affect you. It will
                affect You. Bill
                ----- Original Message -----
                From: "james tan" <tyjfk@...>
                To: <Sartre@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2002 8:37 PM
                Subject: [existlist] What's Wrong With "Evil"?


                >
                > bush described n. korea, iraq, and iran as "axis of evil". while i can
                > understand why he used that word "evil" on the teleban and the al-qeda
                > network (bush just looked at what they did without attemmpting to see the
                > origin of it as tommy would; for tommy, is it less "evil" if we can
                > understand the origin of their "evil" actions?), and while i understand
                > these three countries are building weapons of mass destruction that has
                the
                > capacity to destroy civilised world, are iraq, iran, and n. korea as
                > dangerous as the axis powers of 60 yrs ago? is the usa about to adopot a
                > policy of "unconditional surrender" towards them? if so, what was
                washington
                > doing talking to teheran after sep 11, seeking its cooperation in the
                afgan
                > campaign? what was the former clinton adminstratoin doing seeking better
                > relations with n. korea, a policy the current adminstration has not
                > altogether foreclosed? is the usa looking for war, after the victory at
                the
                > teleban? is the usa being careful with words when she used something like
                > "axis" and "evil"?
                >
                > james.
                >
                >
                > From: "Christopher Bobo" <cbobo@...>
                > Reply-To: Sartre@yahoogroups.com
                > To: "Sartre_yahoogr" <Sartre@yahoogroups.com>
                > Subject: Re: [Sartre] What's Wrong With "Evil"?
                > Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 17:54:20 -0800
                >
                > Hi Tommy:
                >
                > Just a brief historical remark. The last time a U.S. President declared
                > something evil--Ronald Reagan declaring the Soviet Union and Evil
                > Empire--there was just as much uproar and outcry. Of course, he was
                > right--just a Bush about Al Qaeda. Reagan stuck to his guns and I hope
                Bush
                > will too. We vanquished the Soviets and we'll take care of Al Qaeda too,
                > diplomatic niceties aside. I really think I've come to the view that the
                > Europeans should calm down, stop carping, get out of the way, and let
                > America do the heavy historical lifting.
                >
                > Tell me, if we have to look at this complex picture of poverty,
                > exploitation, etc as causes of terrorism--would the Africans, Asians,
                > Indians etc. also be justified in your mind in employing terrorism to
                > address their grievances?
                >
                > Regards,
                > Chris
                >
                > ----- Original Message -----
                > From: Tommy Beavitt
                > Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2002 9:08 AM
                > To: Sartre@yahoogroups.com
                > Subject: Re: [Sartre] What's Wrong With "Evil"?
                >
                > What you say makes a lot of sense. It is true that, by the definition
                > you quote from the Encarta Dictionary, terrorists (and in particular,
                > those who were responsible for 9/11) are evil. Moreover, my Chambers
                > English Dictionary (which I actually prefer to the Oxford, even
                > though the Oxford is generally considered to be the most
                > authoritative source of "standard", "queen's" english) almost
                > completely agrees, defining evil as "that which produces unhappiness
                > or calamity".
                >
                > The difficulty comes in deciding what has actually *produced* the
                > unhappiness (ie. the prima causae, if we subscribe to causality,
                > which presumably we must in order to settle on the agent responsible,
                > whom we are defining as "evil".) It is here that the question of
                > perspective comes into play.
                >
                > From an European perspective, the primary cause of 11/9 might seem to
                > be composed of factors including: religious fanaticism, American
                > arrogance/unilateralism/exceptionalism, western economic exploitation
                > in general, the lack of democracy in middle eastern countries partly
                > itself caused by geopolitics involving oil extraction, a
                > post-imperial power vacuum, Zionism, etc. So it is simplistic and, in
                > this case, damaging to pick one from the bunch and settle on it as
                > being the one sole cause.
                >
                > I can see why your arguments tend to drift in this direction. You
                > are, after all, a professional attorney. It has to be possible to
                > determine prima causae for your work to have any meaning. When a
                > court pronounces an accused to be guilty then the corporate reality,
                > to which we all subscribe to a greater or lesser extent in order to
                > be considered sane, immediately colludes in the judgement and desists
                > from questioning it. The mechanics by which this happens is called
                > "due process". It is probably our best attempt at justice in this
                > temporal realm.
                >
                > The land within which a judgement can be enforced on pain of contempt
                > charges is called a jurisdiction. When we inhabit a jurisdiction we
                > quickly become aware of its parameters. We all collude in it because
                > we can see that it is our best bet, even to the extent of ourselves
                > accepting a guilty verdict and serving time as sentenced. Many
                > criminals even express contrition for the crimes of which they have
                > been convicted and by this means tend to be rehabilitated back to
                > within the relative freedom of the corporate or consensus reality
                > more quickly. It may even be that they are being 'sincere' in this;
                > or, as sincere as it will ever be possible for them to be.
                >
                > To this extent you and I no doubt agree.
                >
                > Where disagreement remains is where we might find the parameters of
                > this "jurisdiction" you and I both find ourselves in with regard to
                > the definition of the word, "evil".
                >
                > Even this caveat is only good for a strictly legalistic
                > interpretation of the word, which seeks by "due process" to establish
                > prima causae. When it comes to morality or justice, it will be even
                > harder to find common ground.
                >
                > This is why I would much prefer the leaders of a country to whom my
                > country is allied to desist from using such a word while at the same
                > time steadfastly rejecting, via unilateralism and exceptionalism,
                > possible discussion of the context or jurisdiction within which the
                > word may be held to have valid meaning.
                >
                > If, on the other hand, we are talking about "might is right" then let
                > us not beat about the bush (if you will pardon the pun)
                >
                > If coming right out with "might is right" seems to entail burning the
                > final bridges of diplomacy then I suggest that continued use of the
                > word "evil" to describe Uncle Sam's erswhile enemies is also
                > profoundly undiplomatic, and that the interests of civilisation would
                > be better served by dropping it forthwith.
                >
                > best wishes
                >
                > Tommy Beavitt
                >
                >
                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
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