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Palgrave Macmillan

Taking Evil Seriously

ISBN 9781137412652
Publication Date July 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Pivot

While moral philosophy has traditionally been understood as a 'positive' examination of the good life, this book argues that ethical inquiry should, rather, begin from an examination of evil and other 'negative' moral concepts, such as guilt and suffering. Evil is a shockingly real feature of the world we live in; it cannot be explained away or justified in terms of any theodicy, either religious or secular. The book draws on the tradition of pragmatism, particularly William James, in developing this anti-theodicist argument for taking evil seriously. James's pragmatist approach is critically compared to some other philosophical thematizations of fundamental ethical issues, including Wittgensteinian moral philosophy and Hans Jonas's post-Holocaust ethics. The pragmatic method itself is rearticulated as a philosophical method focusing on negativities such as evil and as a version of post-Kantian transcendental inquiry dealing with the necessary conditions for the possibility of morality.

Sami Pihlström is Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and the Director of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies at the University of Helsinki. He has published widely on pragmatism, the problem of realism, transcendental philosophy, and the philosophy of religion.



1. Evil and Negativity: Sharpening the Pragmatic Method

2. The Moral Luck, Reward, and Punishment of a Sick Soul

3. The Suffering God and Post-Holocaust Pragmatism

4. A Metaphilosophical Conclusion





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