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Universal Evil

  1. Sep 3, 2007 #1
    "Are there certain acts, like torturing children, which are always wrong? If so, what are they?"
    [taken from a list of stimulus questions]

    I believe this question invokes one huge look into evil/morality as a whole [questioning the value of moral absolution, moral relativism, universalism, etc], so I'm finding it a bit hard to answer.

    Any opinions or suggestions on a narrower viewpoint?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2007 #2
    Absolutely, deontology FTW
  4. Sep 8, 2007 #3
    Whose children?
  5. Sep 8, 2007 #4


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    Sorry, religious discussions citing specific religious beliefs are not allowed here.
  6. Sep 8, 2007 #5
    sorry! fixed.
  7. Sep 9, 2007 #6


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    Evil can only be universal when there is a universal consensus that determines what is evil and what is not evil. Further from that evil is a product of the mind and no one is sure that the mind is a univeral organ.

    Good luck with that.
  8. Sep 10, 2007 #7
    i cant imagine any circumstances in which torturing children would be acceptable but generally speaking, you have to separate the act itself from the way the act is commited. whether an act is evil or not normally depends on the way it is done. the time, the place, the circumstances, and what results from it.
  9. Sep 10, 2007 #8


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    Torturing anyone is wrong (why just children?) along with killing stealing rape and revenge.
    There are more but I can think of any right now.
  10. Sep 10, 2007 #9
    First one would have to define the terms. In some societies the 'disciplining children' can be extreme relative to others. In some contexts, where there is extreme peril, these more extreme forms of discipline may keep the child from getting killed.

    Do you object to killing in self defense? In War? Of food? Is scavenging or killing plants ok, why?

    At what point does coercion become rape? If a woman is taught she has a duty to satisfy her husbands needs, as he has a duty to protect and provide for her, does this lack of consent imply she is being raped?

    Revenge? If the fear of revenge is the only thing that keeps your children from being raped or murdered... is it not justified?

    Its easy to sit back and judge others while we sit in our nice comfy chairs, but others have hard decisions to make. Can you handle the truth?
  11. Oct 4, 2007 #10
    The flaw in the original question centers around acts. You need to define the set of all acts, and then ask if any in this set is always wrong.

    Now a different question that should be answered first is what constitutes an act. Which of these are elements of this set of all acts.
    1.Killing one person to save 10.
    2.Killing one person.
    3.Shooting a gun where it results in one person dying and in 10 others not dying.
    4.Shooting a gun where it results in one person dying.
    5.Shooting a gun.
    6.Contracting the muscle in your finger where it results in the shooting of a gun with {3, 4, 5} as the result.
    7.Contracting the muscle in your finger.
    You see where how it continues on. In different instances in philosophy, the act is considered without the consequences, but no explanation for what is and is not the act is given. Which element(s) of this set is considered an act without consequences considered: {Murdering, Killing, Shooting a gun, Moving a finger, Sending a nerve impulse to the finger,...}.

    Until a definition of this is given, it is impossible to say that certain acts are or are not always wrongs.
  12. Oct 5, 2007 #11
    universally, it always wrong to kill a sentient being. You are killing the center of existence when you do.
  13. Oct 6, 2007 #12
    I submit that universal evil is ANY willful violation of a moral code. Now, suppose I steal food, from someone that has lots of food, to feed my starving child--is that action evil ? I say yes. If I have enough energy and presence of mind to steal, then I have other non-evil options to provide food for my child.
  14. Oct 7, 2007 #13
    What if your chosen moral code isn't violated by taking from those who unethically horde food they don't need?

    Not to mention that your moral code might have a serious problem with people who claim to own land and then extort money and resources from those who actually work that land.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2007
  15. Oct 7, 2007 #14
    Do we need to define evil? Do we need to come up with a moral code that is acceptable to all?

    I think the answer lies in the word "care"

    If you don't care for your fellow human, if you don't care for the forests and the wild life if you don't care for our planet, no defination of evil, no law of moral conduct will ever be able to solve our problems.
  16. Nov 9, 2007 #15


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    I don't know I any of you have thought about it this way but...... good is often used by evil as a source of energy, sustenance and so on. You see all of these altruistic institutions being used as camoflage for evil accountants and business dealings and they seem to attract "careless" people to all levels of their administration. Even the Red Cross showed its real colours when so many donations came in after the mass murder event in NY on 9/11/01. The "good" unions have often be found lacking of character and the "good" church harbours its own brand of pedophiles, land grabbers, favoritism, false charity, and possible genocidal maniacs.

    There are many examples of evil using good to carry on.

    Can you point out an opposite scenario? Are there instances where good uses evil to advance its cause?

    Why or why not?

    I think it would make a nice turn of events and no doubt it would be profitable.
  17. Nov 25, 2007 #16
    Well, first we can look to good gods. So, see how a good god allowed evil snake in garden to tempt poor Eve with apple. And then consider poor Job, how "all that he had" was put within the power of evil Satan during a meeting with the same good god, so that god could test Job. I assume god would justify both actions as being for good cause to appease the mind of god. For a human example--a good warden of jail may use evil inmates to do some good action for community. But note here that action is for greater good of many humans, not warden. I cannot think of a example where a good human would use an evil human to advance its own personal good cause--seems like a contradiction in terms.
  18. Nov 25, 2007 #17


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    Try reading Robin Hood perhaps.
  19. Nov 26, 2007 #18
    I find nothing morally good about the actions of Robin Hood--bad example of what you look for.
  20. Nov 26, 2007 #19


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    Hi Rade,

    among humans - since that's where we find "good" or "evil" (those concepts are of human origin) we often see an "evil" or "destructive" (unethical) influence using the mechanisms of the "good" or "constructive" influences in a society. This has been examplified many times by churches, corporations, families and other groups masking their intent with the "good" mask. Then "evil" uses energy generated by the "good" to continue its destructive course.

    When do we see the "good" benefiting and continuing is constructive course with the energy generated by "evil"? This happens when the spoils of "evil" are confiscated by the "good" during an indictment. The police association which is, ideally, paid by the community obtains the holdings of the "evil" and distributes them, ideally, where they will better the infrastructures of society. This is one example of "good" profiting from "evil".

    Robin Hood - at least in the novel about the semi-fictitious character - provided a similar model to the one mentioned in the previous paragraph. He confiscated the treasury that was, as far as he knew, never going to be used to advance the well being of the people (who contributed to it). And he distributed this wealth among the citizens, thus building and reinforcing the experience of shared responsibility in the community (and his own legend).

    In reality, Robin Hood either didn't exist or was quite different from what we think of him today. But, from some deep distant story about him, we get this myth of how he "stole from the rich and gave to the poor". Even if he was more of a red neck who blew it all on booze, foul, meat and women, he was probably remembered as a generous citizen who contributed well to the prosperity of the times, nontheless. And remembered for his stories of "sticking it to the man"!

    What objections do you have about the morality of the Robin Hood tales?
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