Philosophical Studies

, Volume 155, Issue 2, pp 199–205 | Cite as

In defense of the mirror thesis

  • Peter Brian Barry


In this journal, Luke Russell defends a sophisticated dispositional account of evil personhood according to which a person is evil just in case she is strongly and highly fixedly disposed to perform evil actions in conditions that favour her autonomy. While I am generally sympathetic with this account, I argue that Russell wrongly dismisses the mirror thesis—roughly, the thesis that evil people are the mirror images of the morally best sort of persons—which I have defended elsewhere. Russell’s rejection of the mirror thesis depends upon an independently implausible account of moral sainthood, one that is implausible for reasons that Russell himself suggests in another context. Indeed, an account of moral sainthood that parallels Russell’s account of evil personhood is plausible for the same reasons that his account of evil personhood is, and that suggests that Russell himself is actually committed to the mirror thesis.


Evil Vice Moral character The mirror thesis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySaginaw Valley State UniversitySaginawUSA

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