Spontaneous Philosophical Tea Party™

Spontaneous Philosophical Tea Party™

It’s a SPONTANEOUS philosophical tea party™!

A lot of the time when people do nasty things they have justifications in their minds for why what they’re doing is the right thing to do. For instance, if you burn a witch at stake you probably think you’re doing it to protect many more people.

If we assume that to be evil you have to be aware of the evilness of your actions and still follow through with it, is it possible that people that are incapable of seeing the logical flaws in their justifications can be evil?

Put another way, can you be both stupid and evil?

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5 Comments

  1. Rebel 16
    June 2, 2010 at 2:04 am —

    I think one can be both stupid and evil. “The right thing to do” is a bit of an oversimplification. Someone who habitually indulges in his or her own pleasures or self-interest is likely to consider that the right thing to do, after all.

    Consider a schoolyard bully, for instance, who enjoys hurting other people because of the way it makes him feel. He may not be very intelligent, but he’s learned to like the feeling he gets when he beats up someone smaller than he is. He is by no means operating under the illusion that this action is in any way for the greater good. It just makes him feel powerful. He’s certainly aware that it’s considered wrong – teachers, possibly even the school principal, have lectured him about his behavior – but, lacking the intelligence to look forward to the possible consequences of his actions he has not yet gotten enough incentive to stop. He persists in tormenting and terrorizing other people simply for his own pleasure. This, to me, is certainly an aspect of evil.

  2. June 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm —

    If you define evil as acts done with the knowledge they are bad, then no, you can’t be evil if you’re too stupid to realise you’re doing something bad.

    It is, however, not a definition I agree with. In my opinion, that type of stupid may very well _be_ evil.

  3. June 2, 2010 at 4:57 pm —

    I do not think necessarily stupid, but ignorance is a powerful force in bringing about evil.

  4. Lyra Lynx
    June 8, 2010 at 9:36 am —

    Ignorance does not excuse you from doing evil things. As long as the information that shows the hypothesis you are operating on to be incorrect is available to you and you are capable of understanding it.

    Not making an attempt to understand the counterargument to your position when it is presented to you is just as bad as understanding it and ignoring it.

    In this day and age, with so much information available on the internet, there is no excuse for being ignorant. I don’t think skeptics are so much more intelligent than average people. We just know things other people do not.

  5. dahduh
    June 15, 2010 at 3:02 am —

    If consequence alone is what distinguishes a good act from an evil act, then you can be:

    1. Stupid and evil
    2. Smart and evil
    3. Stupid and good
    4. Smart and good

    If however you are stupid then even if your intention is to be good, unintended consequences may result in evil; so you cannot be truly good without also being smart.

    Bottom line: it is unethical not to be skeptical!

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