Virtue ethics, role morality, and perverse evildoing

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Abstract

This chapter argues that, despite the concerns raised by philosophical situationists about the relevance of virtue and vice to explanations of right actions and evil actions, virtue ethics is nevertheless capable of providing an illuminating account of an important and familiar type of evildoing. This account focuses on the teleological dimension of evildoing in the context of various personal and occupational roles. The chapter argues that agents who bring about foreseeable intolerable harms in acting contrary to the proper goals of their role typically do something worse, and in an important sense more evil, than agents who bring about equivalent harms outside that role context. Moreover, it is argued that such moral perversion carried out by an occupant of the relevant role can systematically compound the evil done across a range of cases, and so these actions can be justifiably seen as a distinctive type of evildoing characterised here as perverse evildoing, which constitutes a sub-category of evils in general. This sort of evildoing has been neglected in philosophical accounts of evil and in discussions of virtue ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMoral Evil in Practical Ethics
EditorsShlomit Harrosh, Roger Crisp
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter5
Pages103-127
Number of pages25
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9780429455926
ISBN (Print)9781138316041
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Ethics and Moral Theory
PublisherRoutledge

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