1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Evil

Edited By Thomas Nys, Stephen de Wijze Copyright 2019
    400 Pages
    by Routledge

    400 Pages
    by Routledge

    Why ought we concern ourselves with understanding a concept of evil? It is an elusive and politically charged concept which critics argue has no explanatory power and is a relic of a superstitious and primitive religious past. Yet its widespread use persists today: we find it invoked by politicians, judges, journalists, and many others to express the view that certain actions, persons, institutions, or ideologies are not just morally problematic but require a special signifier to mark them out from the ordinary and commonplace. Therefore, the question of what a concept of evil could mean and how it fits into our moral vocabulary remains an important and pressing concern.

    The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Evil provides an outstanding overview and exploration of these issues and more, bringing together an international team of scholars working on the concept of evil. Its 27 chapters cover the crucial discussions and arguments, both historical and contemporary, that are needed to properly understand the historical development and complexity of the concept of evil. The Handbook is divided into three parts:

    • Historical explorations of evil

    • Recent secular explorations of evil

    • Evil and other issues.

    The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Evil is essential reading for students and researchers in the fields of ethics and philosophy of psychology. It also provides important insights and background for anyone exploring the concept of evil in related subjects such as literature, politics, and religion.

    Introduction Thomas Nys and Stephen de Wijze 

    Part 1: Historical explorations of Evil 

    1. Plato on Evil Alina Scudieri 

    2. Augustine on Evil Philip Cary 

    3. Aquinas on Evil W. Matthews Grant 

    4. Machiavelli: The Drama of Politics and Its Inherent Evil Giovanni Giorgini 

    5. Hobbes on Evil Laurens van Apeldoorn 

    6. Leibniz On Evil: God’s Justice in the Best of All Possible Worlds Agustín Echavarría 

    7. Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the Origin and Nature of Evil Jason Neidleman 

    8. Kant: The Evil in All of Us Matthé Scholten 

    9. Sade: Mushroom Clouds and Silver Linings Thomas Nys 

    10. Nietzsche’s Critique of Morality and His Effort to Create an Evaluation ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ Paul van Tongeren 

    11. Hannah Arendt’s Double Account of Evil: Political Superfluousness and Moral Thoughtlessness Peg Birmingham 

    12. After the Fall: Camus on Evil Matthew Sharpe 

    Part 2: Recent Secular Explorations of Evil 

    13. Deliver us from Evil: The Case for Scepticism Phillip Cole 

    14. Does the term ‘evil’ have any explanatory power? Eve Garrard 

    15. Defining the concept of evil: Insights from our pre-cognitive responses Stephen de Wijze 

    16. Evil and Wrongdoing Todd Calder 

    17. Evil Characters Peter Brian Barry 

    18. Defining evil actions: Different approaches Luke Russell 

    19. Different Substantive Conceptions of Evil Actions Paul Formosa 

    Part 3: Evil and other Issues 

    20. Evil and Punishment Leo Zaibert 

    21. Evil and Forgiveness Kathryn J. Norlock 

    22. Evil and Freedom Lars Fr. H. Svendsen 

    23. Evil and Power Simona Forti 

    24. Evil and Childhood Gideon Calder 

    25. Evil’s Diachronic Characteristics Zachary J. Goldberg 

    26. Evil, Genocide, and Mass Atrocities Jonathan Leader Maynard 

    27. Evil: A Comparative Overview Michiel Leezenberg 


    Thomas Nys is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

    Stephen de Wijze is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Manchester, UK.