What is your definition of evil?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by akoreamerican, Aug 26, 2018.

  1. gamelord Registered Senior Member

    You know, I am beginning to think you are right.

    But I don't believe in shutting down forums, because that is censorship.
    river likes this.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. gamelord Registered Senior Member

    Or you know, the simple fact that Hitler and the Japanese had less troops, than the Allied powers. And that Hitler had less oil.
    Because if you actually did some, you know, research, you would find that Nazis had a higher kill/death ratio than the Soviets. 1960's hollywood, however, portrays them as bumbling bafoons who could not hit the broadside of a barn. But in actuality, Sherman tanks were cheaply produced death-traps and on average they were suicide missions, taking 4 or 5 Sherman tanks to incapacitate just 1 german tank.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    He would have been better off trading for it. But if you need the lebensraum, first you need the tanks and then you need the oil. Everybody has needs but it's the means to the end that can be evil.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Yes. That's the general situation. The people are fooled or coerced into committing atrocities against the other people who were betrayed.
    No war is started in the service of goodness and virtue. Also, no war is started by the rank and file.

    That's not starting a war; that's responding to an attack. It's the attacker that starts the war.

    Plenty of grey zones. Many scales of measurement. Lots of case-by-case opportunities for judgment.
    If humans are involved in a situation, some degree of evil and some good are present.
    Like sugar and salt in processed foods: it's a question of how much and in what proportions.
    There is zero chance of anyone of sound mind over age 5 voluntarily going to war without intending to kill, maim, hurt and damage.
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    But they are fought for moral reasons, very often.
    And everybody else - including, often, the entire opposing side - fights it. Often for moral reasons, sometimes even in the service of goodness and virtue.
    That's fighting a war, for moral reasons.
    1) That's not quite the case.
    2) What if it were: So? The moral question is: who do they intend to kill, maim, hurt; what do they intend to damage, and why.
  9. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Is it? If that is the moral case, then the proposed definition of evil is inapplicable in real life.
    We simply don't know the answers to those questions of most participants in most situations.
    In law-courts, two advocates present their evidence to a jury, hoping to convince it that the accused is/is not guilty. In a the majority of trials, neither side convinces every juror; in a significant percentage of trials where the jury was persuaded by one side or the other, the verdict turns out to be wrong. So, even where an indictment was supported by data collected and presented with all due diligence, those entrusted with judgment are unable to calculate degree of guilt accurately.
    Multiply that by 5 or 6 million participants, lost, destroyed and falsified records of their actions leading up to the 10 or 20 million destructive incidents in a war, then try to allocate degree of guilt to each one accurately.
    Can't be done.
    And yet, that does not prevent each one of us having a working definition of "evil".
    Where do we get that definition?
  10. river


    inotherwords , evil needs life to exist .

    without life neither god or evil can exist
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    That's not why the Soviets beat the Germans in WWII. They did have more soldiers - but that came into play after the Germans had failed to conquer, and was in part itself a signifier of moral superiority. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Dnieper
    Note some of the advantages of moral superiority - partisan forces willing to sacrifice, a strategy chosen in part to save civilians from evil receiving fanatical dedication.
    And they got beat anyway - a major factor being that they were in the wrong, and the Soviets were fighting for a just cause.

    Meanwhile: I didn't mention the Japanese and Americans. But as long as the topic has come up, notice that the moral inferiority of the Japanese did weaken them - the Americans got a lot of key help from the people the Japanese had occupied. The Japanese made enemies wherever they went - by the end, they were surrounded by them. No smuggled food and supplies from China, no help from Korea, every island in the Pacific full of people willing to help the Americans sight unseen.
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Not the case, the question of the moment in that case.
    We have behavior and justification and tactics and strategy and context and outcome and history and so forth, on occasions of concern - and if we have none of that, we have no business labeling "evil".
    And hasn't been attempted. So?
    Same place we were getting it before that description. Same place we would have had to have it from in order to even contemplate such an endeavor. What are you talking about?
  13. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    I had been talking about the OP question, before you diverted it to the history of warfare.
    If I had it to do over, I would refrain from any response to the mention of war. It's jut too confusing.
  14. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    Evil is nothing without pain and suffering, but suffering without evil is still bad.
  15. gamelord Registered Senior Member

    Your argument is borderline fantasy/religious sounding and beginning to be nonsensical. I showed you the facts, that Germans had a higher kill-ratio, and you still go on with your fantasy-Hollywood arguments.

    Wars are won four main reasons:
    - More troops, Better Technology/Intelligence, More Resources, Higher Morale.

    Morality is a disney, fantasy argument.

    Your argument says that the Japanese lost because the locals cooperated with the Americans.
    That would not fall under "Morality" but "Popularity".
    It would then coincide with the "More troops/More resources" component.

    It is morale, not morality. Nazis had the belief they were moral, resulting in a higher k/d. It does not actually matter if they actually are moral, only that they believe they are moral.

    It is the same as when the Jews slaughtered (genocided) the Caanites. They Jews believed genocide was a holy decree of God, boosting their morale. "Morale" is not the same as "moral".

    Or are you going to argue to me, that Ghengis Khan won because he was actually a moral person?
  16. akoreamerican Registered Senior Member

    Are you saying that evil doesn't exist?
    If you are not saying that, please provide your definition of evil.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018
  17. gamelord Registered Senior Member

    Way to twist my words. Cant tell if you are intentionally doing this, or unintentionally, but I'm not letting you slither out of this.

    Look up logical fallacies, and then tell me which one you are trying to manipulate me with.
  18. akoreamerican Registered Senior Member

    I'm not accusing you of anything. I'm asking a simple question.
    This thread is about definition of evil after all, and it seems to have gone off topic.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018
  19. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    He was probably as moral as any war-leader who conquered an empire. As you said of other people involved in wars, some believe very strongly that their cause is just, even if later generations judge otherwise.
    The moral worth of a leader can only be understood in terms of what he himself believes to be right conduct: whether he adheres to the demand of his culture's mores as a person, and whether he serves his people faithfully as a leader. A man who sabotaged the collective aspirations of his nation would be judged as an unethical leader [dishonest, disloyal, perhaps even treacherous] even if he did it in order to save a million lives, and though posterity might see him as virtuous. A man who takes upon himself the fulfillment of his people's aspirations, even though it entails duplicity and ruthlessness and results in a million deaths, is seen a principled leader, and his personal vices are overlooked, maybe even celebrated --- so long as he wins.
    In either case, the degree of private evil he indulges has no bearing on his reputation as a leader.
    The amount of evil he manifests in public matters only so far as it affects national morale. (He can torture all the prisoners of war he likes, so long as he shows appreciation to his generals and provides bread and circuses for the people. )

    The reason we have a word and concept for evil is that we all carry it in us. We can identify it because we recognize it as very real and sometimes compelling part of our own nature. It can't be eradicated.
    However, each one of us, in order to be successful social animals, must learn to keep it under control.
    And we, quite rightly, condemn those who indulge the evil part of nature, while we tend to forgive those who try to control it an fail.
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Superior morality often has significant influence on Intelligence, Troop numbers, and Morale. I posted the link to the Dneiper River assault, a visible specific case of a factor that dogged the entire German invasion of Russia.

    In WWII, it also had significant influence on Technology (the Western Allies enjoyed the benefits of less severe persecution of Jewish scientists, homosexual scientists, and female scientists).
    Now that's funny. The Japanese were "unpopular". Any idea why? They were nerds, perhaps, with funny glasses?
    In no case have I attributed success in war to the morality of any one person.
    In point of fact, the Mongols of the Horde were not notably inferior, morally, to the people they conquered and slaughtered and plundered.
    In point of argument, moral superiority is a factor in many endeavors - one factor, among many. It is an advantage in war, if the historical record is to be believed.
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    But these inform, contribute, to a moral assessment - they are factors, not (necessarily) dominant criteria.
    And they appeal to outsider perspective - what exactly is faithfulness in service, and who are "his people"? for example.
    The moral worth to whom .
    And what about the endeavor the moral leader leads - that involves a much different moral assessment.
    Depraved indifference is not a compelling part of one's own nature. It does not compel, for starters - it motivates nothing. Yet a definition of evil that does not label as "evil" some acts of depraved indifference seems inadequate at best.
    That quote -
    had nothing to do with the history of warfare, or apparently any of my posts (despite it being posted as a reply). The question was about its bearing on the OP, which is unclear: So what were you talking about?
  22. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Carrying out, to the best of one's ability, the duties assigned to a leader in his culture.
    I'm guessing, the ones he leads.
    Indeed, and by a much different set of judges. But it doesn't matter, because Abraham, Genghis Khan, Atahuapla, Mansa Musa, Lief Eriksson were not guided by the assessment of posterity, but by the mores and dictates of their own time, their own beliefs.

    Of course not: it's an effect, not a cause. The titles of sins, crimes and misdemeanours describe the acts one commits if one indulges the evil in one's nature.
    The severity of the crime is a measure of the extent to which the evil is/was allowed to rule one's behaviour.

    What is your definition of evil? That's all I've been talking about.
  23. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I didn't. Some guy responding to Bowser did, back around #23.
    Those vary by faithfulness to moral code, within any society.
    You'll have to do better than guess, to slap a label like "evil" on anything.
    Who's them?
    We aren't asking them for their definitions of evil, here.
    Depraved indifference is not an effect.
    The people exhibiting it are quite often just doing their jobs - including their jobs as leaders, say - and not "indulging" anything. Acting according to sense of duty, working hard to perform the tasks one has been assigned, sacrificing oneself for a greater cause, is kind of the opposite of indulging oneself.
    That would refer to an imposed or outside evil, in many cases. Not an intention of the one doing the evil deed.

Share This Page