Constructivism and Evil

Peri Roberts

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:
Constructivism and Evil

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This chapter argues that a notion of evil represents a necessary limiting conception for a defensible politics. Much of contemporary liberal theory is constructivist in a way that is usually taken to rule out categorical moral judgements that draw on notions of objective good and evil. In contrast, this chapter explores the role that a properly developed conception of evil can play in liberal constructivism. Firstly theories of evil are an important basis for a cross-cultural understanding of wrongness that can be framed in a liberal manner. Second, the content of theories of evil appears much less partial than ideas of the good that predominate in liberal discussion. Liberal constructivism, often castigated for offering an inadequate understanding of human goods, is thus well placed to outline a sparser notion of human evil that can anchor discussions of value.

Keywords: theories of evil; contemporary liberal theory; liberal constructivism; wrongness; moral judgements

Chapter.  8432 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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