Radical Evil and Projective Strength of Will

John Davenport

in Will as Commitment and Resolve

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780823225750
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235896 | DOI:
Radical Evil and Projective Strength               of Will

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This chapter examines radical evil by focusing on Aristotle's account of vice as weakness or ignorance. There are two problems here: psychological eudaimonism reduces evil to weakness of will, and it reduces strength of will to mere self-control, that is, resistance to appetitive or emotional temptations. Both these diagnoses can be refuted by a clear look at the phenomena. First, some kinds of evil motivation, labeled “radical”, reveal volitional strength rather than weakness. Noting important differences among several kinds or levels of ill will, this chapter argues that the projective model helps explain these differences and make sense of the fact that evil projects can be pursued with the utmost commitment or resolve of the whole self. It then considers in each case what reasons may ground the projection of different kinds of harm to others for their own sake. It also defends Søren Kierkegaard's idea of radical evil against Alasdair MacIntyre's critique and looks at six forms of volitional hatred.

Keywords: Aristotle; radical evil; eudaimonism; vice; weakness; will; self-control; volitional strength; Alasdair MacIntyre; volitional hatred

Chapter.  21341 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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