Sunday, September 20, 2009

How Does My View Of Evil Fit?

The previous blog described my view that evil is a non-functional attribute or description of certain social strategies. Social strategies that deny the benefit of cooperation can be described as evil. So thievery is evil because its effects are counter to the benefits that productive efforts can provide.

My theory seems to be based on my understanding the concepts found in evolutionary psychology. it is my understanding that evolutionary psychology regards the human psyche as being made up a number of individual components. Some of these may be inherent and some may be learned from observations of the activities of others. The behavior of the psyche results from the interaction of these individual components. These components interact through the sharing of outputs and the observation of external activity – the activities of the self, the environment and others in the environment. The psyche is then built through a learning process which is analogous to natural selection in that successful components are preserved and unsuccessful one are removed. Learning strengthens the connections between components to produce new hybrids.

My understanding of traditional moral philosophy is that there are two classes of theories – the ideal and the consequential. In theories of the ideal, behaviors are inherently good or evil. In consequential theories, behaviors are good or evil depending on the consequence that they incur. It appears to me that the evolutionary conception of evil that I have been trying to understand has elements of these two classes. The interaction of the psychological components relies on recognizing the implications of behavior. Actions are chosen by a consideration of their consequences from the current situation. So there are aspects to the idea here, in which proposed actions can be considered to have inherent properties. However these properties, such as good or evil, are generated from an evolutionary learning process

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