The Philosophy Department is pleased to announce that James Sias (Dickinson College) will give a talk titled “Evil People” on Friday, April 15, at 3:30 p.m. in the Humanities and Social Sciences building, Room 215.
For almost a half-century, and fueled
especially in recent years by an increasing presence of the term “evil”
in public moral discourse, a growing number of philosophers have become
interested in the concept of moral evil. Is there such a concept, and if
so, to what does it apply? What, for instance, would make an action
count as evil, as opposed to just very wrong (or very, very wrong)?
this talk, I discuss a curious asymmetry in people’s intuitions about
evil—namely, the fact that people are apparently more willing to
allow that there are evil actions than they are to allow that there are
After addressing two fairly common sources of skepticism
about evil personhood, I then describe and critique a few of the more
common philosophical theories of evil personhood. Finally, I suggest my
own theory of evil personhood, which draws much of its inspiration from
the work of Hannah Arendt—who, it is perhaps worth noting, is widely
regarded as the first 20th-century moral philosopher to take
seriously the concept of moral evil.