Contemporary Political Theory

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 395–415 | Cite as

The Problems with Evil

  • Paul Formosa
Feature Article: Theory and Practice


The concept of evil has been an unpopular one in many recent Western political and ethical discourses. One way to justify this neglect is by pointing to the many problems with the concept of evil. The standard grievances brought against the very concept of evil include: that it has no proper place in secular political and ethical discourses; that it is a demonizing term of hatred that leads to violence; that it is necessarily linked with outdated notions of body and sexuality; and that it only hinders rather than aids our ability to understand. I shall seek to argue in defence of the concept of evil against these charges. The upshot of this argument is that the language and concept of evil has a justified and important role to play in political and ethical discourses.


Arendt, Hannah banality of evil demonizing evil taboo ‘War on Terror’ 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Formosa
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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