Can we choose evil? A discussion of the problem of radical evil as a modern and ancient problem of freedom


Share/Save/Bookmark

Coeckelbergh, Mark (2004) Can we choose evil? A discussion of the problem of radical evil as a modern and ancient problem of freedom. In: Considering evil and human wickedness. At the interface project, 3 . Inter-Disciplinary Press, pp. 339-354. ISBN 9781904710028

[img]PDF
162Kb
Abstract:The problem discussed in this paper emerges from work I’ve
done on the modern ideal of autonomy.1 I found that autonomy is often
seen as a morally neutral term. Put in terms of good and evil, this means
that it is held consistent to say that a person is autonomous and chooses
evil. Autonomy, by itself, so it is argued, is neutral with regard to good or
evil. On this view, whether or not I choose evil, if I make this choice in the
capacity of being my own master, of governing and ruling myself, then
there is nothing in the way of autonomy that I lack. For example, Feinberg
argues that autonomy is consistent with ruthlessness, cruelty, and other
(moral) failings, and that it is therefore at best only a partial ideal
“insufficient for full moral excellence.”2
Is this a tenable position? In this paper I discuss whether it makes
sense to say that a person has a (real) choice between good and evil,
regardless of his state in terms of autonomy. First, I clarify the problem by
using aspects from the work of Plato and Augustine. Second, I show how
Kant attempts to deal with this problem by discussing key aspects of his
moral theory, in particular his concept of radical evil.
For the sake of my argument, I assume in this paper that it is
meaningful to speak of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.
Item Type:Book Section
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/publications/76157
Export this item as:BibTeX
EndNote
HTML Citation
Reference Manager

 

Repository Staff Only: item control page