Chapter

Introduction

Bruce Haddock, Peri Roberts and Peter Sutch

in Evil in Contemporary Political Theory

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641963
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652860 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641963.003.0001
Introduction

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The concept of ‘evil’ has a long history in the western tradition, extending from early theological debate, through tortured discussion of the relationship between moral and religious issues, to a contemporary context in which moral and political theory have domains of discourse in their own right. This book explores the actual and possible roles of evil in contemporary political theory. This chapter notes that whether in outlining criteria for the limits of toleration, in understanding the development of humanitarian international law, in theorising post-conflict situations, or in making sense of political rhetoric, the notion of evil has an important contribution to make. What becomes clear, whether from the point of view of the perpetrators of necessary evil, of the victims of evil, or of political actors making judgements about evil, is that it demands understanding. Political theory should not sidestep such a demand but rather explore ways of meeting it.

Keywords: contemporary political theory; evil; morality; religion; theological debate

Chapter.  3552 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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