On 1/2/2013 5:24 PM, Craig Weinberg wrote:



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

Where did anyone express that expectation?

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?

You don't have to call them evil, just guilty.

Brent

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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