Ugh. Another post about “evil”.


Ugh. Another post about “evil”.

“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice”.

As I’ve said before, we’re all ignorant of lots of things. That’s fine. There’s nothing morally wrong with ignorance itself, but I argue that it’s immature to have opinions on things that you’re ignorant of and irresponsible to have opinions on things you’re ignorant of when those things affect the lives of others.

Now that we know what objective morality is, we can talk about it without ambiguity. So the question is where do we draw the line between irresponsibility and evil? I could argue that anything objectively immoral is evil, but I’m not sure that it’s objective to say that people are evil. For example, Stalin told people to do lots of objectively immoral things, then those people chose, of their own free will, to do what he said. Obviously, Stalin’s orders were not immoral in themselves; he was just a guy who said stuff. Telling his functionaries to starve Ukrainians doesn’t violate the property of anyone. However, the functionaries chose to obey him and actually go out and violate property, which is immoral. So, are any of the above people evil? Stalin didn’t do anything immoral, so can he be considered evil? His functionaries DID do immoral things, but, even though they did immoral things, does that make them evil?

I think that classifying people as evil is subjective. People are complex and they do many things, some of which may be immoral, some not. Certain actions can certainly be classified as evil if evil equates to immorality, but actions are cut and dried (did they violate property?), people are not.

Personally, I like labeling people as evil if they do as little as advocate for human suffering, but that’s something I do out of frustration. The fact is that most people aren’t very smart, they lack discipline, they’re uneducated, immature and irresponsible. They want to comment on things that that trigger their emotions, but they don’t want to do the work to be right about anything and this is what we’re dealing with. The fact is that I have close friends that choose to be wrong about things that affect the lives of others and who advocate for human suffering ignorantly. I would never tell these friends to their face that they’re evil, because I genuinely think (subjectively and arbitrarily) they’re decent people and that makes me want to remain friends with them. I just have to accept the fact that they’re imperfect in ways that they could change and that they simply never will change.

Everything’s a trade-off .

I’m probably not going to stop calling certain people evil, since that’s subjective, and it’s my decision whether or not anyone meets my arbitrary criteria for such a label. I think, however, that it’s important to understand that people can’t be objectively evil, but their actions can be. It’s more mature, in my opinion, to throw around the label of “evil” if you understand that difference.

So, if I say, “Stalin was evil” and someone else says, “no, he wasn’t”, then we’re both right, since that’s subjective and we both get to decide for ourselves what the threshold for what any evil person is. On the other hand, if I say, “Stalin’s functionaries who carried out his orders did evil”, that’s not up for debate, being objectively true, according to the definition above.

If I say, “cops are evil, because they physically enforce unjust laws” and you say, “no, they aren’t”, i can’t really argue with that, but, conversely, you can’t argue that their enforcement isn’t evil.

So the take-away is that actions can be objectively immoral and, therefore, evil, but, even though they may be immature and irresponsible, people can’t be.

Conceptual logician, libertarian philosopher, musician, economist, almost-ran businessman and other stuff.
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