The Manifestation Account of Evil

In: Grazer Philosophische Studien
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  • 1 University of Zurich, Center for Ethics, Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2 University of Zurich, Center for Ethics, Zürich, Switzerland

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Abstract

This article defends a novel definition of evil. An action is evil if (1) a pro-attitude (or complete indifference) towards severe harm to a sentient being is (2) manifested in the action. The manifestation can take either of two forms: expressing the pro-attitude or attempting to realize its object. In order to exclude cases where the pro-attitude is the result of a positive attitude and the action does therefore not count as evil, the pro-attitude (3) must be generated from a morally reprehensible attitude such as greed or sadistic pleasure. As an implication of this definition, not every evil action is extremely bad, and some ‘merely’ wrong acts might be worse than some evil acts.

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