The annual Dan and Gwen Taylor Lecture hosted by the Department of Philosophy was given by Philip Pettit on the theme Doing Good and Doing Evil.  I arrived early and wondered if I was in the wrong lecture theatre as the room filled up with an audience mostly made of young men.  A way different audience to other lectures I have attended.  I did not realise.

An asymetry exists between doing good and doing evil.  Doing robust good is demanding.  It is costly to give love, honesty, respect, intentional good (altruism? an anti-libertarianism?).  Due care has to be given to all possible worlds, whether being Earnest or knowing Jack.  All possible worlds cover the possibilities by which situations for doing good might by influenced to the point that they become unrecognisable : physical, mental, moral, spiritual, criminal.

Rich evil imposes cost of harm on others across a range of possibility.  The agent becomes the fallen hero: Milton’s Satan; Shakespeare’s Iago; Himmler.  Is the agent of rich evil a Nietzchean figure?  The energy outlay is considerable.  Most evil is a thin self-interested evil.

The just person is a person who takes all the care a person can do that every action may be just; an unjust person neglects action due to an apparent benefit to themself, the failure to do virtue, to do rich good.

Intent is knowledge, an end-goal.  The action to do good is intential and rich; the  action to do harm happens out of non-intentional action, a thin evil.  When we break a rule we fail to conform to the rules.  (This is potentially good as well as evil.)

I wonder what this model of doing good – doing evil makes of story-telling of popular media where we have seen such anti-heroes as a ‘good’ serial killer and a chemist teacher who makes drugs.

Advertisements