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Was ist eine böse Handlung?

Zachary J. Goldberg

Abstract

What is the nature of evil action? My thesis is that perpetrators and victims of evil inhabit an asymmetrical relation of power; the strength of the more powerful party lies in its ability to exploit the other’s fundamental vulnerability, and the weaker party is vulnerable precisely insofar as it is directly dependent on the more powerful party for the satisfaction of its fundamental needs. The fundamental vulnerabilities that are exploited correspond to features essential to our humanity (ontological), moral personhood (personal), and individuality (characteristic). These kinds of vulnerabilities are both constituted by and engender fundamental needs and give rise to direct dependencies on others to satisfy or to refrain from interfering with the satisfaction of fundamental needs. The unambiguous exploitation by the more powerful agent on whom the vulnerable directly depend is characteristic of evil action. Although I do not claim that the exploitation of ontological, personal, and characteristic vulnerabilities necessarily results in evil, it does typify it.

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Published Online: 2019-02-21
Published in Print: 2019-01-21

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