1st Edition

Evil Matters A Philosophical Inquiry

By Zachary J. Goldberg Copyright 2021
    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book is an inquiry into particular matters concerning the nature, normativity, and aftermath of evil action. It combines philosophical conceptual analysis with empirical studies in psychology and discussions of historical events to provide an innovative analysis of evil action.

    The book considers unresolved questions belonging to metaethical, normative, and practical characteristics of evil action. It begins by asking whether Kant’s historical account of evil is still relevant for contemporary thinkers. Then it addresses features of evil action that distinguish it from mundane wrongdoing, thereby placing it as a proper category of philosophical inquiry. Next, the author inquires into how evil acts affect moral relationships and challenge Strawsonian accounts of moral responsibility. He then draws conceptual and empirical connections between evil acts such as genocide, torture, and slavery and collective agency, and asks why evil acts are often collective acts. Finally, the author questions both the possibility and propriety of forgiveness and vengeance in the aftermath of evil and discusses how individuals ought to cope with the pervasiveness of evil in human interaction.

    Evil Matters: A Philosophical Inquiry will be of interest to advanced students and researchers in philosophy working on the concept of evil, moral responsibility, collective agency, vengeance, and forgiveness.

    Introduction: Questioning Evil

    1. Is Kant’s Theory of Evil Still Relevant?

    2. What Must a Theory of Evil Include?

    3. Beyond Nuanced Harm Accounts: Evil and Vulnerability

    4. Is a Génocidaire My Moral Interlocutor? Evil and the Limits of Strawsonianism

    5. Evil and the Power of Groups

    6. Enduring Resentment: Between Vengeance and Forgiveness

    Appendix: Facing Evil: How Should Individuals Cope with Pervasive Evil?


    Zachary J. Goldberg is Senior Researcher at Trilateral Research and formerly Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Germany. In addition to his authored articles and book chapters focusing mainly on issues concerning the philosophy of evil and moral responsibility, he is the editor of Reflections on Ethics and Responsibility: Essays in Honor of Peter A. French (2017), co-editor of The Routledge International Handbook of Perpetrator Studies (2020).