Read e-book online Evil and Human Agency: Understanding Collective Evildoing PDF

By Arne Johan Vetlesen

ISBN-10: 0511137729

ISBN-13: 9780511137723

ISBN-10: 0521856949

ISBN-13: 9780521856942

Arne Johan Vetlesen argues that to do evil is to deliberately inflict soreness on one other person, opposed to his or her will, and reason severe and foreseeable damage. Vetlesen investigates why and in what kind of situations this kind of hope arises, and the way it's channeled, or exploited, into collective evildoing. He argues that such evildoing, pitting entire teams opposed to one another, springs from a mix of personality, scenario, and social constitution. Vetlesen exhibits how heavily perpetrators, sufferers, and bystanders have interaction, and the way features of human corporation are well-known, denied, and projected by way of various brokers.

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It follows that the human ability to tell right from wrong must be grounded in something other than – possibly, even at odds with – the conscience collective of society, to allude to Durkheim, who not coincidentally is the classic sociologist Bauman singles out for castigation. If the ability to tell right from wrong is not grounded in society, the question Bauman has to address is: In what, then? e. to tell right from wrong) ready formed, much as it faces human biological constitution, physiological needs or psychological drives’ (p.

185). We can now appreciate why Levinas is the ethicist Bauman turns to. If my reading is correct, Bauman takes Levinas’ ethics to represent the thesis to which the Nazi practice of committing mass murder represents the antithesis. Levinas, Bauman asserts, has shown us whence responsibility springs: from proximity to the human other. The carrying out of mass murder requires that such proximity be eliminated; hence will responsibility, its corollary, be prevented from arising, from being perceived by the agent.

All cultures that we know practise some variant of teaching its individual members which objects (subjects) are entitled to what, morally speaking (Vetlesen 1994: 153–217). What is extraordinary in the case of Nazi ideology is not that it engages in drawing such a distinction, but the specific manner in which it does so. The ordinariness of modern evildoers 33 What holds for the policeman’s encounter with the girl probably holds for the paramilitary Serb’s encounter with his victims as well (to anticipate my case study in Chapter 4).

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Evil and Human Agency: Understanding Collective Evildoing by Arne Johan Vetlesen


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