Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Monday, September 05, 2011

Pure evil...


Is there such a thing? (Lynda La Plante thinks so.)

If you think evil exists, how do you define it?


Blogger Davoh said...

the reverse of "live"?

September 06, 2011 10:20 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

OK, a bit flimsy, but cute.

I hope someone adds a bit of quality to this thread. It's a topic worthy of deeper comments, I feel.

September 06, 2011 10:44 PM  
Blogger AndrewM said...

As you say, it's a huge topic and while I have composed a truly beautiful response, this comment box is too small to contain it. :-)

Let's try and make the problem a bit smaller. William Lane Craig (a Christian) divides evil into moral evil (harms perpetrated by an agent) and natural evil (harms resulting from things like earthquakes, for example).

I'm going to say evil is that which is not good in some moral sense. Therefore there is no such thing as natural evil: the world just is. Earthquakes don't get to choose whether they happen or not, therefore they can't be evil.

Then I'm going to say that in order for there to be moral evil there must be morality, and on this planet that is the peculiar province of human beings. I'll withdraw that if a whale contributes to this discussion, but not otherwise.

There, that shrank it down quite a bit, didn't it? More to come in a couple of days.

September 07, 2011 8:59 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

So, Andrew, are you saying that evil is the act of choosing to do some morally bad thing? Is there no gradient of scale? e.g. Is stealing 20c evil? If not, then where on the moral scale does evil begin?

September 07, 2011 10:02 AM  
Blogger AndrewM said...

Gerry, I'm going to be saying that there must be a gradient (more than one, in fact). However, I have to go to Sydney for a couple of days and won't be on the Interwebs, so "Andrew's Take On Evil 102" will have to wait until the weekend.

Like your new topic, BTW, but then you knew I would :-)

September 07, 2011 4:52 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Have a safe trip. I look forward to your evil dissertation. :-)

September 07, 2011 5:50 PM  
Blogger AndrewM said...

@Gerry: I had a safe trip and I'm now ready to finish explaining myself. However, I find a need to post a picture as part of the response and I have no clue how to do that in a comment.

So I'm going to refer you to my blog for my response, which is there in its entirety including picture.

Andrew's Blog

However, we'll keep the discussion here.

September 10, 2011 4:51 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

As I said on your blog, Andrew, it's a bit too complex for my liking.

By my definition, an evil act must contain malice. But I would argue that acts of minor malice should not be deemed evil, only major ones.

Which brings me back to the question "Where is the boundary between what is and what is not evil?"

September 13, 2011 3:27 PM  
Blogger AndrewM said...

Well, you claim you're applying Occam's Razor and I think you're over-simplifying. But let's do it your way.

Imagine a line with Good at the left hand end, Neutrality in the middle and Evil at the right-hand end. Then Bad falls somewhere between Neutrality and Evil. All actions must fall somewhere on this line.

The trouble is that no matter where you place Bad, there will always be an infinite number of points between Bad and Evil.

There isn't a boundary between what is, and what is not, Evil, at least not a sharp one. It's a continuum where one thing transforms into another. Some things are completely evil (Holocaust, 9/11) while others are mostly evil, slightly evil and so on.

September 14, 2011 9:36 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Andrew, you have edited out the malice factor. I still argue for "no malice, no evil", no matter how bad. And then there's degrees of malice.

September 14, 2011 1:26 PM  
Blogger AndrewM said...

I left out malice because I can conceive of evil where there is no malice at all. For example, the Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1984. Surely an event that kills, by some accounts, up to 11,000 people and injures more than 500,000 is evil by any reasonable definition of the word. Yet there was no malice here - just negligence and incompetence.

September 14, 2011 3:09 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Sorry, Andrew, but I see no evil where I cannot detect malice. I think we define evil differently, you and I.

I don't know the facts surrounding the Bopal tragedy, but the way I see it, unless it involved some form of malice, then it was either an accident, or gross negligence, or criminal negligence, or culpable negligence, but it was not evil unless it can be shown that malice played a key part.

I don't think evil is determined by he number of dead alone. You can have 11,000 dead and still not be dealing with an act of evil.

Remember, I'm just talking about my definition of evil. Yours may be different.

September 14, 2011 11:54 PM  

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