Chapter

Inequality and the Problem of Evil

Nannerl O. Keohane

in Naming Evil Judging Evil

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780226306735
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226306742 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226306742.003.0005
Inequality and the Problem of Evil

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This chapter explores the relation between inequality and evil in all of its dimensions. The argument proceeds through an analysis and critique of Jean–Jacques Rousseau's understanding of the origins and the impact of social, political, and economic inequalities. Inequalities of wealth and power set the conditions for evildoing and themselves can be the motivation for severe mistreatment. Moreover, inequality can undermine the natural impulses of compassion that temper injustice and evil in human relations. Inequality is not just an incidental accompaniment of evil but central to it. Thus, a sincere attempt to confront the problem of evil must begin by attending to inequality.

Keywords: inequality; evil; Jean–Jacques Rousseau; mistreatment; compassion

Chapter.  11635 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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