On Wednesday, January 2, 2013 6:21:27 PM UTC-5, Brent wrote:
>
>  On 1/2/2013 2:24 PM, Craig Weinberg wrote: 
>
> That really has nothing to do with Evil though, except in sloppy 
> reasoning. True Evil is about intentionally initiating social harm. Getting 
> smallpox is not evil, it is just unfortunate. Giving someone blankets known 
> to be infected with smallp
>
>
> On the contrary it is sloppy ethics to confine 'evil' to intentional 
> social harm.  First, it implies that socially bad is bad simpliciter, but 
> values are ultimately personal values.
>

Speaking of sloppy. I'm not sure what that was intended to say.  Without 
some explanation of why you say that evil is other than intentional social 
harm, it sounds like you are just saying that you disagree.
 

>   Second, it implies that as soon as we find a physical cause (he was 
> drunk, he had YY chromosmes, his father beat him) for a behavior it's not 
> longer evil.  
>

It implies that only to those who think that personal intention is not a 
physical cause in its own right. Just because someone was drunk when they 
commit an evil act doesn't mean that it wasn't an evil act.

 

> But all behavior has a physical cause.  
>

All physics is an experiential effect.
 

> So I'm ok with just dropping the term 'evil' and just referring to 
> good/bad for individuals and good/bad for society as derivative.  But I 
> think it's a hangover from theodicy to refer to human actions as evil but 
> not natural events - it's part of the idea that humans are apart from 
> nature.
>

I agree that dropping the term 'evil' as a formal term is the more 
enlightened way to go. I don't have a problem with it as an informal 
hyperbole that is reserved for intentionally cruel behavior though. I think 
that we can separate intentional human cruelty as a class of attitudes and 
effects unlike any other, though I would not apply any supernatural 
significance. 

I would say that there is a hidden hypocrisy in allowing no expectation of 
self control on the part of individuals while taking it for granted that 
exactly that kind of moral control is  to be expected from a law enforcing 
society composed of those same individuals. If it's not evil for an axe 
murderer to execute people at random, how can it be evil for a society to 
call that person evil and seek to execute them? If we want to be humane 
toward outlaws that's fine, but I don't think that we should do it out of 
the assumption that human behaviors are under no more human control than 
storms and earthquakes. 

Craig


> Brent
> Ethics is, at bottom, the art of recommending to others the
> self-sacrifice necessary to cooperate with ourselves.
>       --- Bertrand Russell
>  

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