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

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  • 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 1 of 7 , Feb 7, 2002
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      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 2 of 7 , Feb 7, 2002
      • 0 Attachment
        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 3 of 7 , Feb 7, 2002
        • 0 Attachment
          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 4 of 7 , Feb 8, 2002
          • 0 Attachment
            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 5 of 7 , Feb 11, 2002
            • 0 Attachment
              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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