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Evil and Collective Moral Failures / Gideon Calder

Moral Evil in Practical Ethics, Issue: 1, Pages: 129 - 144

Swansea University Author: Gideon, Calder

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DOI (Published version): 10.4324/9780429455926

Abstract

Most debates about evil centre on the applicability of the term to individuals’ actions, their motives and effects. Might collective moral failures – where the malignant intentions of specific individuals cannot by themselves account for the scale of the harms involved – be designated as ‘evil’? I f...

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Published in: Moral Evil in Practical Ethics
ISBN: 9781138316041
Published: Abingdon and New York Routledge 2018
Online Access: https://www.routledge.com/Moral-Evil-in-Practical-Ethics/Harrosh-Crisp/p/book/9781138316041
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa45231
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Abstract: Most debates about evil centre on the applicability of the term to individuals’ actions, their motives and effects. Might collective moral failures – where the malignant intentions of specific individuals cannot by themselves account for the scale of the harms involved – be designated as ‘evil’? I first defend collective moral failure as a distinct category. I then argue that such phenomena cannot be sufficiently accounted for in terms of the malignant intentions of individuals. I then consider and reject three ways of claiming that evil must be individuated (and so inapplicable to collective moral failures). I then argue that for evil to be a predicate of such events, it must be locatable in social situations, relations or structures – but as something to be explained, rather than itself an explanation. Handled with due care, such a deflationary conception of evil may play a role in our understanding of, and response to, collective moral failures.
Keywords: evil, social structures, agency
College: College of Human and Health Sciences
Issue: 1
Start Page: 129
End Page: 144