Evil and the Morality of Conviction

David Wong

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:
Evil and the Morality of Conviction

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This chapter is about the moral psychology of those who do evil as they wage war upon evil. It focuses on the “morality of conviction” that simplifies and polarizes for the sake of meaning, certitude, and decisiveness. The primary example is the downward spiral dance between those Islamists who invoke fundamentalist views to motivate and justify terrorist attacks on the United States and its allies, and those in the United States who oppose them but are fundamentally alike in misperceiving the motivations of the other side. While nuanced appreciation of the truth in the position of one's opponents can lead to paralysis and while decisive action is served by oversimplification, in the best case, we must act decisively with our eyes wide open, in honest acknowledgment of the moral ambiguities of the conflict.

Keywords: moral psychology; evil; Islamists; terrorist attacks; moral ambiguities; certitude; decisiveness

Chapter.  7856 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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