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Old 12-12-2011, 11:13 AM
stephanie stephanie is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,921
Default Re: Lessons Learned: Beyond Good and Evil (Robert Wright & Alan Wolfe)

Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
Fair enough. But this is all still trivial, in the sense that everyone chooses words every day to maximize their persuasive effect. And why should we not do so? What would be the point of language otherwise? There's no theorem that says extreme language works the best. Quite the contrary; when you go too far with language, people tune you out rather quickly.
I agree with this.

To perhaps shorten the point I was trying to make in my extended diatribe above, the problem with "evil" in foreign policy discussions is that it's a side step of the justification for the use of force. If someone is "evil," the good must oppose him or her, regardless of the broader discussion about when force can and should be used.

I do agree with you that complaining about the overuse of the term "evil" is not really the issue, though. The issue is that it's a confusion of categories. Also, it's -- I think -- a failure to be clear about what "evil" is when we talk about it in the correct context, the moral or theological one.

This is actually related to the point raised toward the end of the diavlog, about whether it's bad to try and explain bad acts by pointing to things that might make them more likely. Seems to me that the reaction by many to that is based on this confusion of categories. Pointing to something as a potential cause does not mean that the person who acts based on that reason is not morally culpable. Traditionally, that you think you have a reason for what you do doesn't make one not "evil," it makes one human.

But to a certain extent this relates to a debate within moral philosophy or, primarily, theology about what evil is, and demonstrates how out of context the focus is.
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