Evil and Human Agency: Understanding Collective Evildoing

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Cambridge University Press, 01.12.2005.
Evil is a poorly understood phenomenon. In this provocative 2005 book, Professor Vetlesen argues that to do evil is to intentionally inflict pain on another human being, against his or her will, and causing serious and foreseeable harm. Vetlesen investigates why and in what sort of circumstances such a desire arises, and how it is channeled, or exploited, into collective evildoing. He argues that such evildoing, pitting whole groups against each other, springs from a combination of character, situation, and social structure. By combining a philosophical approach inspired by Hannah Arendt, a psychological approach inspired by C. Fred Alford and a sociological approach inspired by Zygmunt Bauman, and bringing these to bear on the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, Vetlesen shows how closely perpetrators, victims, and bystanders interact, and how aspects of human agency are recognized, denied, and projected by different agents.

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The limitations of Alfords approach
140
The logic and practice of collective evil ethnic cleansing in Bosnia
145
Approaches to ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia
148
What is genocide?
154
The explosive dialectic of individualization and collectivism
159
Ethnic cleansing as a case of securitization
167
The differences between individual and collective evil
170
Genocidal logic and the collectivization of agency
175

Rendering human beings superfluous
47
Hannah Arendt on conscience and the banality of evil
52
Assessing the influence of St Augustine
54
the Socratic bottom line
57
Conscience and temptation
63
Did Eichmann have a conscience?
69
The notion of conscience in Heideggers Being and Time
71
Arendts advocacy of the Socratic model of conscience
77
Double dehumanization and human agency
84
Eichmann meets Storfer
89
The attraction of superfluousness
98
The psychologic of wanting to hurt others An assessment of C Fred Alfords work on evil
104
Evil is pleasure in hurting and lack of remorse
106
Kleins positions of experience
113
the role of culture
120
Evil as envy
124
Problems with Alfords theory
128
Identifying with Eichmann
135
Girards theory of the surrogate victim
182
The design of genocide as ethnic cleansing
188
its nature and function
196
Rape shame and agency
203
Responses to collective evil
220
How to pass judgment on evil?
221
A culture of indifference
229
when inaction makes for complicity
235
the follies of impartiality enacted as neutrality
241
Three lessons of moral failure
253
Collective agency and its disaggregation
257
Truth commissions trials and testimonies
265
Reconciliation forgiveness and collective guilt
272
Assuming vicarious responsibility and guilt
281
A political postscript globalization and the discontents of the self
289
References
299
Index
310
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Страница 249 - Its specific nature, which is welcomed by capitalism, develops the more perfectly the more bureaucracy is 'dehumanized', the more completely it succeeds in eliminating from official business love, hatred, and all purely personal, irrational, and emotional elements which escape calculation. This is the specific nature of bureaucracy and it is appraised as its special virtue. (Weber,
Страница 155 - ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to
Страница 213 - whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or
Страница 213 - is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent of or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.
Страница 230 - Action, the only activity that goes on directly between men without the intermediary of things or matter, corresponds to the human condition of plurality, to the fact that men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world.
Страница 59 - struck by a manifest shallowness in the doer that made it impossible to trace the uncontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives. The deeds were monstrous, but the doer ... was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous
Страница 15 - ingredient" of the Holocaust - all those many things that rendered it possible - was normal; "normal" not in the sense of the familiar ... but in the sense of being fully in keeping with everything we know about our civilization, its guiding spirit, its priorities, its immanent vision of the world
Страница 155 - In addition to the crime of genocide itself, the 1948 Convention provides that the following acts shall be punishable: conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempts to commit genocide, and complicity in genocide. The
Страница 125 - There are very pertinent psychological reasons why envy ranks among the seven 'deadly sins'. I would even suggest that it is unconsciously felt to be the greatest sin of all, because it spoils and harms the good object which is the source of life. This view is consistent with the view described by Chaucer in The
Страница 98 - The manipulators of this system believe in their own superfluousness as much as in that of all others, and the totalitarian murderers are all the more dangerous because they do not care if they themselves are alive or dead, if they ever lived or never were born

О аутору (2005)

Arne Johan Vetlesen is Professor of Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, University of Oslo, Norway. He is the author of over thirteen books including Perception, Empathy, and Judgement: An Inquiry into the Preconditions of Moral Performance (1994) and Closeness: An Ethics (with De Maleissye-Melun, 1997).

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