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Introduction

In 'Geach on Good' [1] Charles Pigden examines the progress made by the research programme (variously named 'Naturalism' or 'Neo-aristoteleanism') initiated by Professor Geach in his paper 'Good and Evil' [2] He concludes that that there has been little progress. Indeed, (he remarks): "the project of spinning a set of plausible moral requirements out of human nature seems to be unviable . . . . We cannot extract human goodness from what we are." [3] Pigden then sets three restrictions on any attempt to build an Aristotelian ethic on the basis of modern biology. Such an evolutionary ethic must be "(a) reasonably specific; (b) rationally binding or at least highly persuasive; and (c) morally credible." [4] Pigden illustrates what he means by the first restriction in his criticism of Mary Midgely's [5] evolutionary ethic. "Midgely has a . . . notion of a natural pattern of human behaviour. There is a way of life (or a range of ways of life) for which mankind is emotionally and intellectually fitted and which people find fulfilling . . . . The problem here is that any plausible attempt to depict a natural life either lets in things many of us would like to exclude or excludes things we would like to put in." [6] In short, unlike Midgely's ethic, an acceptable evolutionary ethic must actually be specific enough to rule out those things which our intuitions oppose and rule in those things we intuitively favour as features of an ideal life (though we might be prepared to adjust our intuitions a little). The evolutionary ethic that I suggest here does give us some guidance on how to live and though this guidance is not very specific, perhaps it is as specific as the subject-matter (ethics) calls for. With reference to ethics, Aristotle remarked: "we must be content to indicate the truth roughly and in outline" [7] and "It is the mark of the educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject allows." [8] Nevertheless, on Pigden's side, we want to squeeze as much guidance out of the evolutionary ethic as we can, since, unless the guidance is reasonably specific, the momentous exercise of advising the young on what is the best life will only take about two minutes. Most of this paper is therefore, devoted to this question of how an evolutionary ethic can give us reasonably specific guidance with regard to the question of what is the best way to live. With regard to Pigden's second restriction-that an evolutionary ethic should be rationally binding or at least highly persuasive-this means simply that the arguments used to develop it should be capable of motivating any normal person who understands them. I consider this point in Sections Two and Three. The third restriction-that an ethic be morally credible-is the demand that the ethic should be compatible with the practical outcome of everyone taking up the way of life it advocates. What this involves will be considered in Section Four. Section One The link between an evolutionary ethic and Aristotle's conception of Ethics Following Aristotle I will regard ethics as a practical discipline that tries to answer the question: "What is the good (i.e., the best, the ideal) life for a person?" Aristotle's method of approaching this question [9] was to take the attributive use of good as his clue: thus to know what a good knife is-i.e., what attributes a knife must have to be a good knife-you must know what a knife is for. Similarly, to know what a good life is you must know what the purpose or point of human life is. Thus, for example, if the purpose of life is to glorify God then a good life is one spent pursuing this end efficiently. Therefore, if we follow Aristotle's model, the key preliminary question is: What is the purpose of a human life? One non-religious approach to the question is offered- in a back-handed fashion-by the theory of evolution. So far as we know, human beings-along with the other living things on this planet-have evolved under the auspices of time and chance. Evolution is, therefore, not a process that is appropriately described as purposeful. However, there is a weak sense in which the lives of the individuals of a species could be said to have a purpose: they play a role in the evolutionary process in that they produce offspring which is a necessary condition of a species evolving. Therefore, the purpose of my life from an evolutionary point of view is to reproduce. However, this notion of an evolutionary 'point of view' is a bit of nonsense. 'Evolution' is the name of a process, not the name of some sort of spirit or demi-urge which is capable of purposeful behaviour. Therefore, when I say (in what follows) that, from an evolutionary point of view, my purpose in life is to reproduce, this must be regarded as short for the following: Evolution is a complex natural process. Individual members of species are its results. The process of evolution will continue only if those individuals reproduce. By assumption, evolution has no purpose, therefore it does not matter whether individuals reproduce. The process of evolution is a natural one -a mere fact about the world-and has no value except in so far as we ascribe value to it. Thus to squeeze an ethic out of a consideration of the natural process of evolution we must regard this process as intrinsically valuable and transfer that value to our own role in the evolutionary process. To make this plausible we might say that although we recognize that evolution is simply a natural process, it is nevertheless very impressive to impressionable types like ourselves. It may not be leading anywhere in particular but on the way to nowhere it has thrown up all sorts of fascinating creatures including you and me. We experience a great deal of aesthetic delight when we contemplate the process and its results, and on the basis of this alone most people would think it 'a good thing' if this process continued. The continuation of this vast process depends-in a small way-on our participation in it. Since we can certainly approve of the process from an aesthetic point of view [10] we could find a purpose in our lives by regarding ourselves as agents in this unfolding story-despite the fact that we firmly believe that the story has no plot. Now I think we can safely say that no one will be likely to embrace the thesis that we can find purpose in our lives by acting as agents for a purposeless process-on the slender grounds that contemplation of the process produces, as a by-product, aesthetic delight among members of one of the species which have evolved. However, there can be no difficulty accepting the fact that our causal role as individuals in the evolutionary process is to reproduce the species. Accepting this fact we can then look to see whether a life in which we play this causal role is-as a matter of fact-a better life than one in which we do not. By better we simply mean a life which brings more flourishing and with it more joy or delight. Here again I simply adopt Aristotle's view that different ways of life are to be ranked according to the amount of flourishing (with its attendant joys) that such a life involves. In short, we will be asking whether a life which makes room for reproduction brings more joy, more flourishing, than one which does not. Section Two A Problem for any Evolutionary Ethic The problem is a general one which questions the whole evolutionary approach to ethics: Why should we care whether or not we reproduce or whether the species survives? Why then reproduce? As we have seen, according to Pigden an evolutionary ethic should be rationally persuasive. In other words it should be self-evident that survival of the individual (and with it, the likliehood of reproduction and the continuance of the species) is a good thing. But surely this is an open question. In the present case this 'open question' objection to the idea of an evolutionary ethic runs as follows: "You say that, from an evolutionary point of view, the notion of life having a purpose can only be construed in terms of an individual living in order to reproduce and thus ensure the survival of the species. "This may well be what our lives are for, from an evolutionary standpoint, but is the fulfillment of this purpose worthwhile? What is good about an individual's contributing to the survival of the species? Surely from the evolutionary standpoint the very fact that, over time, innumerable species have evolved, flourished, and become extinct would indicate that there is no imperative which declares that any particular individual should make it its business to try to reproduce. It is doubtless true that there is, as a matter of fact, competition among individuals to take part in the reproductive process, but is the game worth the candle?" The only effective answer to this question would be an argument to the effect that a life which makes room for reproduction-for raising children-involves more flourishing, more joy, than a life which ignores it. (This reply assumes that a flourishing, joyful life is self-evidently a good life-one worth pursuing-and that one cannot seriously ask of such a life 'What is good about it?' without raising the Collective Eyebrow [11]). Therefore if the reproductive life is superior in this respect then an ethic advocating this way of life would be rationally persuasive. Section Three Ethics as a rational discipline It is with the reference to the effect of experience on our conception of the good life that rationality enters ethics. By consulting experience, we can compare and contrast the outcomes of various styles of living on various types of individuals and thus gain some insight as to what sort of life might suit a given person. In short we can employ inductive arguments based on empirical data which will yield ethical principles in the form of generalizations about the best way to live a flourishing life. These generalizations reflect the broad experience of the community. When we offer them as advice to the young we do so with the explicit rider that these are the views of the majority and that some individuals have not found these views congenial. Do these ethical generalizations support the evolutionary ethic? They do in that, for example, the idea of marrying and having children would be a consideration that no one would ignore in giving advice to the young. People can flourish without reproducing, but again, experience teaches that the joys associated with child-rearing, though not unalloyed, are generally thought to be of the highest order-a central aspect of a flourishing life. In this way the evolutionary ethic is justified by referring to the experience of the community. It is simple a fact that, in general, reproduction is the central motivating force of most people's lives-in the sense that it is an unchallenged fact that most people make room for it in their lives. When we advise young people using the evolutionary ethic, we advise them not only to survive and flourish but also to reproduce. It is this last bit of advice that distinguishes the evolutionary ethic from any rival. In the real world, reproduction is a consideration which serves to restrict the paths which we might otherwise choose in developing our potential. But why does reproduction matter to us? Reproduction is required for evolution to take place but evolution has no purpose. Therefore we cannot cite evolution to explain why reproduction should matter to us. We can only say that, for the most part and for most people, it does matter. We care whether we have offspring. The human species whose members did not care died out. (This is the knock-down argument for the view that an evolutionary ethic is actually in force whether we acknowledge it or not.) Does this effectively deal with Pigden's second restriction? That is, what are we to say to someone who does not find the advice of the evolutionary ethic "highly persuasive"? What are we to say to someone who recognizes that while she is certainly keen to survive and flourish, she finds that she is really not particularly interested in reproducing, and, indeed, regards it as an impediment to her flourishing? Judging by our behaviour most of us care more about reproducing than anything else, but, of course there are exceptions to this generalization. However, exceptions do not disprove empirical generalizations. In ethics our advice is not meant to have universal application. Ethics is not a science: it investigates norms and advises accordingly and this very fact saves it from having to accommodate itself to abnormal cases. Therefore, unlike scientific theories, the empirical generalizations which underpin ethical advice are not discredited because there are exceptions to these generalizations. Rather the exceptions prove the rule, by emphasizing what the norm is. This truth about the disciplines (including philosophy) which deal with the norms of human behaviour is often forgotten due to the current tendency to try to turn the humanities into sciences. This is the real point behind Aristotle's reminder "to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject permits." In other words, ethical advice has general application, not universal application and should be judged accordingly. Section Four Now I want to consider the third restriction which Pigden places on an evolutionary ethic, namely that it be morally credible. To what extent can the evolutionary ethic provide some guidance from a moral standpoint? First of all a distinction needs to be drawn between the enterprise Aristotle called ethics, which we have construed as setting forth a basis upon which one could give advice on the best way to live, and the province of morals, which has to do principally with the ways in which our preferred mode of living may affect other people. The concerns of ethics and morals meet as soon as it is realized that human beings are social animals. As a consequence, advice on the best life for an individual must harmonize with the fact that this same advice may be followed by every individual. Thus ethical advice must meet the moral restriction: it must be compatible with the practical outcome of everyone taking up this advice. If it is not thus compatible then it will not be regarded as morally credible. Thus a necessary condition of an ethic's being morally credible is that I must be able to follow its advice in such a way that others can also follow it. The task of determining how this might be accomplished is the business of politics, the art of the possible. Politics is an art because the harmony between individuals (in families, larger groups, communities, and nations) which is the necessary condition for individuals being able to lead the best lives possible for them, must be worked out, not according to any hard and fast rules-none are available-but by rule of thumb judgements in response to a host of contingencies and claims that must all be balanced and harmonized. Does the evolutionary ethic have anything to say about what these rules of thumb should be? Social harmony is in the interests of all since none can hope to long survive, flourish and reproduce without the cooperation of others. People will find that their interests (survive, flourish, reproduce) are best served if they adapt their pursuit of these ends to harmonize with other people's pursuit of their interests (and vice versa) because only if all do so will each be able to find fulfillment. All the traditional moral imperatives stem from this key restriction (in a single word: "cooperate!") upon our individual endeavours. Since an evolutionary ethic is not incompatible with this familiar social conception of morals (indeed, it depends upon its adoption for the ethic's realization) it meets Pigden's third condition, viz., that any proposed evolutionary ethic be morally credible. Section Five Differential evolutionary theory. At this stage of the argument, Paul Griffiths (in conversation) pointed out an obvious problem: there is certainly evidence for the existence of a degree of cooperation among individuals within society but there is also a lot of competition. Rational individuals would cooperate fully in pursuing the evolutionary imperative ('Survive, Flourish, Reproduce.'). Why then is there competition as well as cooperation? Are people partly irrational? The explanation lies in a differential fitness interpretation of biological evolution Under this interpretation of biological evolution each individual in a population strives to maximize the number of its descendants which are to survive in the gene pool. Now if the evolutionary imperative is really: 'Survive, Flourish, Reproduce differentially', then it can hardly be call a morally credible ethic, since any cooperation apparent in society will be simply a veneer covering the competitive struggle for differential fitness. How does this suggestion that we are actually in some sort of differential competition with regard to reproduction square with our intuitions? Although we care about reproducing-the proof is that the majority of people arrange their lives (determine in what ways they will flourish) so that this desire to reproduce can be satisfied-it is not obvious that we make similar efforts to cater for differential considerations. For example, the whole business of adoption seems a curious anomaly in this context since here the desire to raise a child is divorced from any differential considerations associated with biological evolution. Indeed it is hard to think of examples from human history which illustrate a desire on the part of individuals to leave more offspring than their fellows and to behave in such a way as to promote this end. People care about reproducing but they seem to be largely indifferent about the numbers involved in their own families and supremely indifferent as to the reproductive success of other people in the community. There seems to be no rivalry between individuals with respect to the numbers of their issue. Does this mean that human beings are an exception to the evolutionary imperative: "Strive to leave the largest number of descendants that you can in the surviving gene pool."? No. When we look at the matter more closely, the differential treatment of our own offspring becomes obvious. Thus I will first attempt to see that my child lives and prospers before I worry about yours, even though I might be quite ignorant about or indifferent to the genetic constitution of my child. Moreover, this differential interest extends to the members of my extended family which I will favour over the members of yours. Indeed this phenomenon seems to exhibit itself in a kind of nested hierarchy. I favour the children of Anderson's Bay (my suburb) over those from St. Kilda's, those of Dunedin over Christchurch, and so on, until I favour the offspring of the human race over any alien spawn. It is evident that this differential consideration which is reputed to have a biological basis [12] is at odds with the universal character of morality. The differential evolutionary imperative says: survive and flourish so as to be able to favour your own offspring, if necessary, at the expense of others. The categorical or moral imperative says: treat everyone in an even-handed fashion however they may be related to you. The conflict is obvious but it does not mean that the evolutionary ethic is not morally credible. It simply explains the up-hill task of morality. This task is to try to get people to extend their conditional willingness to cooperate-a willingness which is a necessary condition of following the evolutionary ethic within my (extended) family-to everyone: to make my family the human family, or, ultimately the family of all rational creatures. Whether this is a practical goal for morality, given the almost universal sway the differential evolutionary imperative has over our behaviour, is another matter. Perhaps we should simply recognize that this differential imperative underpins the special obligations and duties that we typically feel towards our nearest kin. This would give a biological explanation for the existence of the intuitive acknowledgement we have traditionally accorded to these special obligations and duties within the family which C.H. Sommers has called attention to. [13] Conclusion The evolutionary ethic amounts to this: it is a fact that human beings care about reproducing themselves. Judging from our behaviour, most of us care more about this than anything else. When we develop our potential this consideration must therefore, be paramount. Social cooperation is the necessary condition of our all being able to develop our potential. Morality has thus come into existence under the pressure of the desire to reproduce: no cooperation, no flourishing, no survival, no offspring. Differential considerations work against the establishment of a universal morality. I only cooperate insofar as it serves my purposes (i.e., increasing my legacy in the gene pool). Where I deem that competition will serve these purposes better than cooperation, I compete. Morality (understood as cooperation) itself stems from the conditional cooperation which a social animal such as a human being must exhibit within the favoured group (the family/the tribe) if it is to survive [14]. With the development of our mental powers we see that it is to our advantage to foster cooperation within ever larger groups. The characteristic move of morality-to universalize cooperative precepts- reflects this. So the old puzzle about why what we ought to do tends to be at odds with our inclinations, the more remote the recipient of the benefit, is explained. Our moral evolution has outrun its biological basis creating the puzzle that Hume noted in the Treatise of Human Nature: "Before I proceed any farther, I must observe two remarkable circumstances in this affair, which may seem objections to the present system. The first may be thus explained. When any quality, or character, has a tendency to the good of mankind, we are pleas'd with it, and approve of it; because it presents the lively idea of pleasure, which idea affects us by sympathy, and is itself a kind of pleasure. But as this sympathy is very variable, it may be thought, that our sentiments of morals must admit of all the same variations. We sympathize more with persons contiguous to us, than with persons remote from us; With our acquaintance, than with strangers; With our countrymen, than with foreigners. But notwithstanding this variation of our sympathy, we give the same approbation to the same moral qualities in China as in England. They appear equally virtuous and recommend themselves equally to the esteem of a judicious spectator. The sympathy varies without a variation in our esteem. Our esteem, therefore, proceeds not from sympathy." [15] Summing up the case Hume remarks: "Tis seldom men heartily love what lies at a distance from them, and what no way redounds to their particular benefit; as 'tis no less rare to meet with persons, who can pardon another any opposition he makes to their interest, however justifiable that opposition may be by the general rules of morality. Here we are contented with saying that reason requires such an impartial conduct, but that 'tis seldom we can bring ourselves to it, and that our passions do not readily follow the determination of our judgment." [16] Hume's discussion in terms of the conflict between our passions and our judgment is suggestive of the contemporary analysis [17] of behaviour in terms of proximal and distal desires. Proximal desires are those which actually move us to action and provide an immediate reward in terms of different sorts of pleasure, whereas the desire to reproduce or (more specifically) to maximize our contribution to the surviving gene pool, is a distal desire, one we never actually experience. Distal desires are simply abstractions derived from evolutionary theory which give no immediate counsel (in the form of a desire) as to which behaviour to engage in at any given moment. The distal goals of an evolutionary ethic can be translated into an account that deals only in proximal desires. Suppose our young person approaches Aristotle with the following supplication. "I have thus far in my life experienced a variety of desires for food, for sexual pleasure, for companionship, etc. In the course of pursuing these various satisfactions I have, from time to time, followed a desire which has led to an outcome which made me regret my action. Regret is a particularly bitter experience which has engendered in me the desire to avoid it at all costs in my future life. I therefore have come to seek advice from you as to which (proximal) desires are most likely to lead to joy in a flourishing life unstained by regret." At this point Aristotle dons Darwin's cloak and replies as follows: "The desires you experience have evolved because they have contributed to the inclusive fitness (the tendency to maximize the contribution to the gene pool) of individuals. [18] There is a pecking order among proximal desires that reflects the distal hierarchy of evolutionary goals discussed previously: cooperate, flourish, compete, reproduce. [Spelled out: cooperate to the appropriate degree with those you interact with (within the nested hierarchy of social relations, family, extended family, tribe, etc.) in order to be able to develop your faculties (flourish); where you can develop your potential more through competing, compete; and thus increase your fitness, i.e., your chances of establishing a stable sexual partnership and reproducing.] "To reflect this pecking order, the proximal desires you experience should be given priority as follows: "First comes love for your immediate family, then for kin and tribe. (Love given will generally be reciprocated. The resulting behaviour, which constitutes a state of reciprocal altruism, serves the distal goal of cooperation which is the sine qua non of an individual being able to flourish.) Second comes ambition to develop your faculties. (This serves the distal goal of flourishing: i.e., increasing your overall fitness to survive.) "Third, comes the desire to earn the esteem of others and thereby feel pride. (This desire serves the distal goal of competing as a means of further advancing your fitness.) "Fourth, sexual love (lust) centered upon a particular person coupled with jealousy, the desire to have exclusive access to that person as a sexual partner. (Here the distal goal served is differential reproduction). "The important thing to remember is that these proximal desires are ranked in a means-end ordering. We love (cooperate) in order to be able to be ambitious (flourish). Having flourished, we are then in a position to gain esteem and feel pride (via competition) and thus be in a better position to indulge our lust (reproduce). The long preparation that precedes sexual union is necessary because I cannot be said to reproduce (from an evolutionary point of view) unless my children reach adulthood themselves. This is much more likely if I have followed my desires in the above order so that when I have offspring I am in a position to ensure-if I am a male, that the offspring are mine-and that they subsequently reach sexual maturity. "This, then,is the formula for the good life for an individual who is a member of an evolving species. Forget the contemplation." Notes [1] C. R. PIGDEN (1990) Geach on good, The Philosophical Quarterly, 40, April. [2] P. T. GEACH (1956) Good and evil, Analysis, 17, 2. [3] Pigden Op. cit., p. 152, [4] Op. cit. [5] M. MIDGELY (1978) Beast and Man (Ithaca, Cornell University Press). [6] Pigden Op. cit., p.151. [7] Nichomachean Ethics 1049b, 26-7, translated by W.D. ROSS in MCKEON (ed.) (1947) Introduction to Aristotle,(New York, Random House). [8] Op. cit., 1094b, 25-27. [9] Op, cit., 1097b, 25-1098a, 15 [10] Indeed, according to Kant (in the Critique of Aesthetic Judgement) it should be a quintessentially aesthetic experience to contemplate the evolutionary process: Kant argues that our delight in the beautiful stems from our feeling that the beautiful thing has a purpose though we cannot divine what it is (thus, the grand 'design' of Nature). [11] cf. McKeon op.cit., 1097b, 7-23 [12] W. D. HAMILTON (1964) The genetical revolution of social behaviour, Journal of Theoretical Biology, 7 . [13] See C.H. SOMMERS (1986) Filial Morality, Journal of Philosophy , 83, 8; and 'The philosopher's war against the family' in G. GRAHAM, (ed.) Person to Person (Philadelphia, Temple University Press) pp. 82-105. [14] See R. L. TRIVERS, (1971) The evolution of reciprocal altruism', Quarterly Review of Biology, no46, 1. [15] D. HUME, (1967) A Treatise of Human Nature. Selby-Bigge ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press). p. 581) [16]1967 p. 583 [17] See R. MILLIKAN,(1990) 'Truth, rules, hoverflies and the Kripke- Wittgenstein paradox.' Philosophical Review, 99, 3. In Millikan's work the terms are used as follows: the hoverfly follows the proximal rule 'chase small, dark, moving things' in order to follow the distal rule 'chase females'. My thanks to Richard Goode for pointing out that my analysis of the evolutionary ethic was strictly in terms of distal desires and that these needed to be related to proximal desires in order to count as an evolutionary ethic. [18] See Trivers, op. cit. COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS WELCOME AT: david.ward@stonebow.otago.ac.nz

 The traditional problem of evil is the problem of how a benevolent God could permit evil to be a part of creation. The other problem of evil is to explain how people can be evil. But why is this a problem? It is a problem because, in terms of folk psychology, opinion is divided as to how evil behaviour is to be explained. There is a natural assumption that evil behaviour is a species of moral behaviour. This involves the assumption that evil people could have done otherwise. However, often the things that evil people do seem so monstrous that it becomes hard to believe that such people are actually choosing to do such things deliberately. It is tempting instead to explain their behaviour in terms of some sort of insanity. If we adopt this explanation then at least no one need be regarded as morally capable of doing evil (a possibility that, for some reason, most people find peculiarly abhorrent). Instead the evil behaviour can be regarded as simply the natural effect of madness. In this way the morally evil aspect of the behaviour is explained by denying its existence. The problem with this explanation is that it denies what seems to be evident: namely that the term "evil" has moral connotations: the evil person is regarded as evil because he or she acted deliberately and could have done otherwise. When this is accepted the difficulty involved in explaining evil behaviour becomes one of not being able to understand such behaviour in the sense of not being able to accommodate it to ordinary explanations of human behaviour. Thus when people act impulsively out of jealousy or envy and do something terrible then their behaviour can be understood--and to some degree excused--since we have all, on occasion, behaved impulsively and harmed others as a consequence. However when people are not being driven by some immediate desire, when their bad behaviour is apparently deliberate, then for some reason we find such behaviour very hard to understand. Pocock captures this idea in the following passage: I suggest that when [people] use the word 'evil' ... their conception of [human nature] is circumstantial, and is derived from their own knowledge and experience of themselves ... and of others whom they regard as like themselves. Hence the recurrence in conversation of such phrases as 'I have done a lot of bad things in my life', 'I have know some hard cases', or 'I can imagine myself doing most things' but 'I cannot imagine how anyone could do a thing like that'. (1985, 52) This gives us a rough sense of why there is a problem explaining evil behaviour A clue to the solution of this problem can be found by considering the difference between nice people and good people. A nice person is someone who is naturally inclined to do the right thing when the occasion arises. A good person is someone who does the right thing when the occasion arises simply because it is right--whether or not he or she happens to be so inclined. Good people are morally good because they decide to act on principle regardless of their inclinations. This is a distinction with which we are all familiar: it marks the difference between natural goodness and moral goodness. Is there a parallel distinction to be made on the dark side of the human character? Unfortunately there is no perfect antonym for "nice"--no word that captures the idea of a personality that is naturally inclined to do what is wrong in the way that a nice person is naturally inclined to do what is right--so I will simply nominate the closest candidate "nasty" to mean the opposite of "nice" (I will assume that, in the moral sphere, "evil" is commonly thought to be the proper antonym for "good.") Accepting this terminology, the parallel distinction would run: a nasty person is someone who is naturally inclined to do the wrong thing when the occasion arises. An evil person is someone who does the wrong thing when the occasion arises simply because it is wrong--whether or not he or she happens to be inclined to do so. Evil people act on principle regardless of their inclinations. These parallel passages illustrate how the problem of evil behaviour arises. On the one hand we seem to understand without difficulty the moral psychology of being good; of acting out of duty or "on principle." For example, we learn that a friend of ours has become a prison visitor. When we next meet him we remark how nice it is of him to have taken on this difficult task. He replies that it has nothing to do with being nice: he is by no means naturally inclined to help others in this fashion and that he only became a prison visitor because he recognized that it was his duty to do so. We regard this explanation of his behaviour as possible--in terms of its psychology--since we ourselves can think of instances in our own lives where we too have acted against our inclinations on the grounds that our duty came first. By contrast, the psychology behind the opposite kind of behaviour eludes us. We are simply unable to grasp the idea of evil people acting "on principle": doing the wrong thing simply because it is wrong. For example, someone tells me that she has been making anonymous telephone calls in an effort to destroy a colleague's reputation. I say to her: "You are a nasty piece of work to do such a thing." She then replies: "My being nasty has nothing to do with it. I am not simply following my inclinations here. As an evil person I am attempting to destroy this innocent person's reputation simply because it is the wrong thing to do." This characterization of a person's being evil "on principle" certainly sounds odd, even perhaps incoherent, but why exactly? Kant's Analysis of the Incoherence of Evil Behaviour Kant thought that the idea of evil people acting "on principle" was incoherent. To see why we need to review his moral psychology. He believed that we could be motivated in two ways: either by our desires or by principles. It is obvious how we are motivated by desires: when we act in accordance with our desires we usually experience satisfaction and it is this satisfaction (or our anticipation of it) that motivates our behaviour. But how can principles motivate us? Kant distinguished between two sorts of principles: hypothetical and categorical. The way in which hypothetical principles are able to motivate us is not difficult to understand. For example, when it is not obvious how we are to satisfy a desire, we think about the situation and formulate principles which, if followed, will lead to the satisfaction of this desire. Thus if you want to be warm in a cool climate then adopt the following principle: always dress in woollens. However, it is clear that hypothetical principles like "always dress in woollens" can only motivate us if we already have a desire to be warm. Strictly speaking, hypothetical principles do not motivate us by themselves. They are only useful in specifying the means to an end which a rational person would follow if he or she wanted to satisfy a certain desire. By comparison, categorical principles do not depend on pre-existing desires. Categorical principles are principles which are supposed to govern our behaviour regardless of our desires. How can categorical principles motivate us in the absence of desire? As we noted earlier, Kant's moral psychology assumes that they can: a good person is someone who does the right thing--obeys the categorical imperative--when the occasion arises simply because it is right. Good people act "on principle" regardless of whether they happen to be inclined to do so or not. How did Kant explain this remarkable form of motivation? Kant reasoned that if a principle were to be able to motivate people--regardless of their natural inclinations--its power to do so must lie in the effect that the rightness of the principle had upon them. This raises two questions: What makes a principle right? What gives such a principle the power to motivate someone who considers it as a potential maxim? What Makes a Principle Right? To understand what makes a principle right we need to see what makes a principle wrong. Take as our candidate for a wrong principle: "Always lie when in difficulties." Kant pointed out that the key to understanding why this principle is wrong lies in attempting to universalize it: when we imagine it put into practice by everyone--as if it were a law of nature--we find that it could not, in fact, be acted upon. Why? Because if it were well-known that everyone would always lie when in difficulties, no one would ever believe what anyone else said to them. Thus there would be no point in attempting to follow the principle since no one would believe anyone when the lie was attempted. In Kant's words "they would laugh at utterances of this kind as empty shams" (cited in Paton 1948, 85). A principle is therefore seen to be wrong when we realize that it cannot be universalized. By contrast, a principle is right--the actions it counsels are morally permissible--if it can be universalized. What Gives a Right Principle the Power to Motivate Us? The power lies in the rational respect that we feel for the principle when we consider what would happen if everyone acted in accordance with it. Our respect stems from the fact that we recognize that right principles are--to use Kant's terminology--practical, by which he means that they are not self-defeating when put into practice. Therefore we know that we will be able to act on such principles if we choose to adopt them. By contrast, as rational agents, we cannot act on a principle which is self- defeating because we understand that it cannot be put into practice. Since we understand this we feel impotent, as rational agents, when we consider doing something "on principle" when the principle is not universalizable. As we shall see shortly, we can certainly act on principles which are not universalizable, e.g., "always lie when in difficulties," but we will not be doing so as rational agents. We will instead be motivated simply by our natural desire to escape some difficulty. Thus, according to Kant's theory, it is impossible to understand the moral psychology of evil--in the sense of being able to understand how evil behaviour could be motivated by the rational consideration of principles (as good behaviour can be). Kant maintains that if we can clearly see that an action, based on a given principle, is self-defeating, it is impossible for us--as rational agents--to summon the moral power to embark on such a course of action. Whereas, in the case of good actions, we can draw upon this moral power which stems from the rational respect we feel for a principle when we see that it could be universalized. Now we can, I think, grant Kant's argument on the lofty plane of universalized principles: if everyone always lied when in difficulty, no one could, in practice, expect to be able to lie successfully. Therefore the policy of telling such lies "on principle," i.e., without any regard to the acknowledged fact that such a project is doomed to failure, would be irrational. However, this is surely no argument against the possibility of evil behaviour: As a nasty person, I may grant Kant's argument and simply bypass it as a bar to evil behaviour by pointing out the obvious: in practice, people seldom tell lies. I can, therefore, take advantage of the fact that in any speech community there is presumption that people will tell the truth. (This a condition of the possibility of the very existence of the speech community: if people usually lied there would be little point in talking to each other.) Therefore, I can count on others believing me and I can, therefore rationally expect to be believed when I tell a lie to escape some difficulty. Surely, then, this sort of morally wrong behaviour is possible for a rational agent--the so-called "free rider." However, this method of escape misses the point. Our original intuition about moral psychology allowed that nice behaviour could be distinguished from good behaviour on the grounds that while a person could behave nicely--if so inclined--he or she could only be good if he or she acted "on principle." However, acting on principle necessarily involves universalizing the maxim you are acting on. Only by universalizing the maxim can you recognize the rightness of the principle involved (by seeing that it would not be self-defeating if put into practice by everyone). Only when you do this do you feel a rational respect for the maxim. Without this incentive of respect for the principle, no action-- which is motivated solely by the rightness of a principle--is possible. However this is not the factor that serves as an incentive for the free rider's action and it follows that the free rider is simply not acting "on principle" when he or she points out the possibility of adopting the "lie when in difficulties" maxim. What the free rider recognizes is that it is possible to adopt this maxim as an expedient. Of course this sort of behaviour is possible, but it will not be a case of evil behaviour because the lie will not be told simply because the principle "always lie when in difficulties" is wrong. Indeed, it is unlikely that such a thought would even occur to the free rider. At this point, then, the psychology of evil behaviour remains incoherent. We do not understand what could be meant by doing something morally wrong "on principle" which mirrors the way in which we understand what it is to do something morally right "on principle". How is Evil Possible According to Kant? Now although there is no such thing as evil behaviour, according to Kant, people still disobey the moral law. Kant calls such behaviour "wicked" and thinks of it primarily as a weakness in the personality (the emotional disposition) of the person. Thus wicked people know that what they are doing is wrong. They have not lost the capacity to be good, they simply lack the will. They are, therefore, not beyond help. The wicked may prosper due to contingencies but, given time, experience will usually teach them the folly of their ways. Though wicked behaviour is possible on Kant's understanding of moral psychology, there is no way to understand the moral psychology of evil behaviour. As a consequence, Kant dismissed such behaviour as an illusion. There is no evil, only wickedness. (When Kant dismisses evil behaviour as incoherent he, by implication, assumes that the existence of wicked behaviour is simply a natural phenomenon. As such there is no problem associated with the existence of wicked characters any more than there is a problem associated with the existence of prudent or saintly character types. The natural dispositions of people form a continuum and it is a simply a contingent fact that some are born with a disposition to be wicked, prudent or saintly.) The Common Sense Opposition to Kant's Assessment of Evil Kant's thesis seems counter-intuitive because we think that evil behaviour has a definite position within the range of moral possibilities: being evil is worse than being nasty (or wicked) in exactly the same sense as being good is better than being nice. Moreover, we think that there are evil people and that evil behaviour actually exists. Michael Stone's remarks on this topic are in line with this. With reference to Kant's view that there is no evil only wickedness, he writes1: . . . Evil certainly exists. To deny it, or weasel out of recognizing it by invoking concepts like 'wickedness' strike me as casuistical and soft. Despite this, people tend to at least agree with the motive driving Kant's denial of the existence of evil, namely that evil behaviour--thought of as a species of moral behaviour--is extremely difficult to understand. We carry this agreement to the point that we are divided about whether we think evil people deserve the name of human beings or whether such people must be reckoned to be insane or regarded as some sort of monsters. This indecision is reflected in the following quotations from Parkin: [David] Pocock's survey of the British uses of the term "evil" gives a revealing breakdown into two kinds of views. A majority is prepared to use the word in the radical sense of inhumanly monstrous, and so to engage in a absolute distinction between acceptable and unacceptable kinds of human being. A minority is reluctant to use the word at all, because, Pocock suggests, it is too strong and reveals a reluctance to so totally convert fellow human beings into monsters. ... [I]f the minority view were dominant, apparent human malice might be excused but not always explained. (1985, 12-13) The complex of the representations of disinterested malice expresses a paradox, a belief in creatures who are and are not human beings, at once within and beyond the limits of humanity. (1985, 48) Whether we ourselves do or do not use the word "evil" it must surely be agreed that it belongs to the language of morals. (1985, 43) These quotations provide evidence for what I take to be the most common intuitions about the meaning of the term "evil." It is not a term we use lightly and when we do apply it, its application stands as an admission that the behaviour in question is very difficult to understand as the behaviour of human beings. This is because the behaviour of human beings is usually subject to a rational explanation in the sense that we can attribute familiar motives to them and see their behaviour as being in accord with these motives. "Disinterested malice" is not a motive we can understand easily since it seems to involve doing something wrong simply because it is wrong. (We have seen why Kant regards this from of motivation as incoherent: the incentive to engage in such behaviour is lacking.) In the light of this, it is, on the one hand, tempting to assume that the perpetrators of evil have lapsed from their human status and become monsters. On the other hand, evil behaviour is not berserk or random behaviour: there is something calculated about it and because of this we are driven to search for the rule or principle that might account for its deliberate character. However, typically this search is unsuccessful. Thus, for instance, Iago refuses to explain himself: Othello. Will you I pray, demand that demi-devil Why he hath thus ensnar'd my soul and body? Iago. Demand me nothing; what you know you know From this time forth I will never speak word. Othello, Act V, Scene II In a moment I will introduce Peck's idea that perhaps Iago cannot explain his evil behaviour but first I need to introduce the idea of a "private" principle. Private Principles I have noted that Kant's theory explains the inexplicable (the idea of moral evil being done "on principle" or for its own sake) by explaining it away. According to Kant, evil behaviour is--from a motivational point of view-- unintelligible and instances of evil are, in fact, simply instances of wickedness. As we have seen, the trouble with Kant's explanation is that our common intuitions about evil do not square with his dismissal of the possibility of evil behaviour. However, his explanation of the impossibility of evil does give us a clue as to how we might explain why our intuitions about evil are at odds with his analysis. According to Kant, the essence of morality has to do with principled behaviour. We know that the motivation which drives good behaviour stems in part from an appreciation of the universalizability of the principle that inspires it. We find we respect such principles insofar as we recognize them as governing modes of behaviour which are possible for everyone. If we agree that 1) evil behaviour is a species of moral behaviour; and that 2) moral behaviour must be governed by a principle; we can conjecture that 3) the principle that governs evil behaviour must not be openly acknowledged as a principle by the person whose behaviour it governs. Otherwise, as Kant has pointed out, it would be seen to be self-defeating and thereby lose its power as a moral incentive. Therefore we need a sense of "principle" which does not involve the idea of the principle being consciously acknowledged Thus if a principle is to be capable of empowering evil behaviour, it must have the status of what I shall call a private (or unconscious) principle. It must be a maxim which has gained the power of a principle without being openly acknowledged or tested as a principle. It will be a principle which is guiding the person's behaviour without that person's realizing that it is. If we could make sense of this idea of behaviour governed by a private principle we could then explain how an evil person may act in accordance with a principle (albeit a private i.e., unacknowledged principle: one which has not been held up for examination to see if it is universalizable). Furthermore, it would explain why evil behaviour typically displays all the energy and tenacity which normal principled behaviour--morally good behaviour--exhibits. The idea that evil behaviour involves acting in accordance with a principle (though unacknowledged) would also fit in well with our intuitions with respect to the notion that "evil" is a term which belongs to the language of morals--a language which concerns itself essentially with principled behaviour. In order to further explain this idea of a private principle I now turn to M. Scott Peck's book People of the Lie (1981). In this book he considers evil from a psychiatric point of view. He was led to seek some psychiatric diagnosis of evil through his encounter with various patients who, on examination, turned out to be involved in what could only be called evil behaviour. However, because evil is traditionally a moral category, his problem was to find a psychiatric classification under which this rather special kind of moral behaviour could be adequately diagnosed. He found it in a malignant variety of narcissism or self- absorption. Peck describes this condition as follows: Malignant narcissism is characterized by an unsubmitted will. All adults who are mentally healthy submit themselves one way or another to something higher than themselves, be it God or truth or love or some other ideal. They do what God wants them to do rather than what they would desire... They believe in what is true rather than what they would like to be true. (1981, 78) Where this submission does not take place a malignant narcissism is the result. A narcissistic self-image governs the will of such people and their behaviour is motivated by the need to protect and maintain this self-image at all costs. Evidence that tends to undermine this self-image is suppressed. Why a few people succumb to this malignant form of narcissism while most do not is not known. Peck believes that the condition stems from a childhood spent with evil parents. Under such circumstances normal "infantile narcissism will be preserved as a kind of psychological fortress to protect the child against the vicissitudes of its intolerable life..." (Peck l981, 80-81. This view is supported by Harriet A. Goldman 1988, 420-450. On this subject Stone remarks: Peck's belief that malignant narcissism stems from living with evil parents is true only sometimes. There are other persons who become evil because of inborn factors predisposing them to take what they want when they want it and to do so with no regard for others. They can turn out to be evil, even though reared by caring and affectionate parents. There are examples of such in the annals of crime. The most convincing examples are those involving adoptees raised by loving adoptive parents, yet where the child turns out 'bad' as in the case of the serial murderers David Berkovitz ("son of Sam") or Ken Bianchi (one of the Hillside Stranglers in Los Angeles)) According to Peck, evil behaviour grows out of the efforts (of those who suffer from this form of narcissism) to protect and maintain a particular self-image. They are tenacious in its defence and quite uncaring about the disruptive effects their behaviour might be having on other people. Peck gives examples of such behaviour in several case-histories. They are all upsetting stories--not so much for the actual harm done to various innocent bystanders which is not spectacular by concentration camp standards--but because the evildoers are utterly impervious to criticism. They always avoid the evidence that their behaviour is evil by either lying or sliding away from the truth in some less direct fashion. In Peck's view this is because the integrity of their self-image is at stake and nothing can be allowed to breach this vital fortress. According to Peck, evil people act upon maxims which they have not consciously acknowledged. The general form of these maxims (developed during childhood) is: "protect your self-image at all costs." A good example of this maxim in action occurs in the following dialogue between Peck and one of his patients: "Everything seems meaningless," Charlene complained to me one day. "What is the meaning of life?" I asked her with seeming innocence. "How should I know?" she replied with obvious irritation. "You're a dedicated religious person," I responded. "Surely your religion must have something to say about the meaning of life." . . . . . . . . "We exist for the glory of God," Charlene said in a flat, low monotone, as if she were sullenly repeating an alien catechism, learned by rote and extracted from her at gun point. "The purpose of life is to glorify God." "Well?" I asked. There was a short silence. For a brief moment I thought she might cry ... "I cannot do it. There's no room for me in that. That would be my death," she said in a quavering voice. Then with a suddenness that frightened me, what seemed to be her choked--back sobs turned into a roar. "I don't want to live for God. I will not. I want to live for me. My own sake!"(1983, 167-8) How (according to Peck) does the need to defend one's self-image in childhood result in evil behaviour when the child reaches adulthood? The question arises because in adult life, behaviour flowing from this private principle--"protect your self-image at all costs"--would seem to be pointless in what is typically an unthreatening environment. But where there is no actual threat the person may work to create an environment which will threaten the self-image so that this image may continue to be defended and thus reinforced. In this way innocent people may have to be drawn in (attacked, victimized) in order to create (and maintain) an environment which will justify the continuance of the evil behaviour which supports the self-image. This is where the notion of a scapegoat plays its part in evil behaviour. (Peck 1981, 73) Integrating Pecks' Diagnosis with Kant's Analysis of Evil The moral power of the evil maxim (which gives evil behaviour its energy and tenacity, and explains the characteristic indifference of the perpetrator to the consequences of his or her deeds) stems from the fact that the person concerned acts upon this unexamined maxim as if it had the validity of a universalizable principle. (And just as a good person will be indifferent to the consequences of sticking to their principles-- "Let justice be done though the heavens fall"--so too an evil person seems not to be disturbed by the unfortunate consequences his or her actions bring about in other persons' lives.) However, the maxim "Protect your self image at all costs (which may involve damaging or being hostile to others)" is not a universalizable principle. (Thus if this maxim suddenly became a law of nature society would be quickly reduced to a war of all against all since it is unlikely that the means I would need to employ to protect my self-image would mesh harmoniously with the similarly motivated activities of the rest of the community) Therefore, if it is to retain its moral power, the maxim cannot be held up for critical examination. It must operate as a principle which is essentially hidden from the person who acts in accordance with it. It is this hidden source of power--lodged in a private principle--that makes evil behaviour seem inexplicable to outsiders and a source of deep spiritual unease for the perpetrator of evil. He or she must avoid any awareness that the principle driving their behaviour is not universalizable. The lying (to themselves and others) that this inevitably entails is what prompted Peck to call them "the people of the lie." Peck characterizes the exceptional mental state of the evil person as follows: We now come to a sort of paradox. I have said that evil people feel themselves to be perfect. At the same time, however, I think they have an unacknowledged sense of their own evil nature. Indeed, it is this very sense from which they are frantically trying to flee. The essential component of evil is not the absence of a sense of sin or imperfection, but the unwillingness to tolerate that sense. At one and the same time, the evil are aware of their evil and desperately trying to avoid that awareness. Rather than blissfully lacking a sense of morality, like the psychopath, they are continually engaged in sweeping the evidence for their evil under the rug of their own consciousness" (Peck 1981, 76). How then does Peck's understanding of the source of evil behaviour fit in with Kant's views? According to Kant, evil behaviour is psychologically impossible: no one could act "on principle" if the principle in question were one which could not be universalized. In addition, no one could act "on principle" unless he or she consciously acknowledged the principle. This means that if an evil person were to act with the tenacity and drive of a person acting "on principle", he or she could not acknowledge the principle that was governing his or her behaviour. And this proved to be the case with Peck's evil patients when he talked to them about their behaviour. They were quite unable to acknowledge the principle which was governing their behaviour. The private principle "protect your self-image" which explains the evil person's behaviour deserves to be called a principle even though it is not acknowledged as such. Its origins lie in the development of a defense mechanism which has successfully preserved the person's self-image. As such it has operated (for the person concerned) as a comprehensive and fundamental assumption; a rule of conduct that is structurally related to other rules of conduct, namely, as the pre-eminent rule to which all other maxims must conform. It has proven itself, in practice, as a means of survival for the child and has therefore persisted as a vital element in the evil adult's psychological makeup. However, the evil person does not consciously act upon this principle. The principle drives their behaviour quite independently of any conscious desires they may experience or moral principles that they may consider. Indeed it is this driven quality of their lives that often brings them to the attention of the therapist. Their evil behaviour is as inexplicable to themselves as it is to outsiders. The principle governing it lies hidden and is ruining both their lives and the lives of those around them. The behaviour of the evil person is undoubtedly "principled" (in the sense of being tenacious and powerful) but it is the hidden character of the principle involved that makes this behaviour seem inexplicable (inhuman) and thus appalling in that special sense that leads us to regard the behaviour as evil. The recent literature contains relatively few references to malignant narcissism.2 Indeed nearly all of the recent references to this condition stem from Otto Kernberg's use of the term in his Severe Personality Disorders: Psychotherapeutic Strategies published a year after Peck's book. Peck himself speaks of malignant narcissism as a category of personality disorders which he is retrieving from the relative obscurity of Martin Buber's Good and Evil (1952), a source somewhat distant from DSM III-R. For a philosopher dipping into the psychiatric literature, it is fascinating to note the tremendous amount of time and energy spent on the part of professionals within the field to hammer out a standard taxonomy of mental disorders. Clearly the sheer complexity of the continuum along which 'abnormal behaviour' stretches necessitates a constant tinkering with labels in order to pin down the enemy, so to speak. In l989 (in "The Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the Differential Diagnosis of Antisocial Behavior") Kernberg offers his own taxonomy of the continuum which stretches from the narcissistic personality disorders to the antisocial personality disorder. He distinguishes seven positions on the continuum and labels one of them malignant narcissism. Needless to say, a symptom of the general taxonomic difficulties that beset psychiatry is that the bits and pieces that constitute Peck's notion of malignant narcissism are scattered here and there along the whole continuum which Kernberg characterizes and do not fall exclusively into the 'malignant narcissism' subdivision. Thus, from the point of view of my discussion of Peck and Kant, the taxonomic discrepancies are a source of confusion. However, the taxonomic problems besetting the discipline do explain why Peck and Stone can fundamentally disagree about who typically falls into the category of the malignant narcissist while at the same time agreeing about the connection between this syndrome and the notion of evil behaviour. Thus, although Stone is well aware of the non-moral characterization of malignant narcissism that stems from DSM3 he does not want to ignore the malignant aspect of this syndrome. He writes: "[the term 'malignant narcissism'] . . . includes the connotation of evil that necessarily overhangs this domain of personality disorder." (1989, 649). However, Stone then immediately goes on to say that most of the murderers he is characterizing as malignant narcissists "were psychopaths by Cleckley's criteria (insincere, shameless, egocentric, unable to learn from experience, without insight, empathy or compassion, although often superficially charming)." (1989, 649-650). I presume that his intention here (in characterizing the malignant narcissists who murder as psychopaths) is to indicate why he thinks that malignant narcissists should be thought of as evil: it is their psychopathic behaviour that marks them as evil people. In addition, he points out that psychopaths "though they remain within the scope of descriptive psychiatry, are beyond the scope of psychotherapy in its present state of development." (1989, 650) I conclude that, for Stone, it is because psychopaths are presently untreatable that malignant narcissists (evil people) are beyond the scope of psychotherapy. (This conclusion is corroborated by some remarks that Stone made in his letter to me which I quote below.) Now, by contrast, Peck specifically rules out psychopaths from those people he characterizes as malignant narcissists. He does so on the grounds that psychopaths lack any sense of morality whereas an uneasy conscience (unacknowledged but nevertheless present as a unidentifiable source of unease for the evil person) is definitely characteristic of the malignant narcissist as Peck uses this term. Clearly Peck thinks that such people would not be beyond the scope of psychotherapy. This is because they--unlike the psychopaths--at least have a moral sense (though one which they find difficult to acknowledge) that might be brought into play in the course of therapy. It is interesting that Peck and Stone should see some sort of moral capacity (presumably insight and a sense of shame ) as a sine qua non of redemption via therapy. In line with his characterization of malignant narcissists as psychopaths, Stone thinks that the very idea of treating evil as a disease a la Peck is wrong- headed. He writes: Even more worrisome to me is Peck's admonition that we treat evil with compassion as though it were a 'disease'. He acknowledges that we are tempted to 'destroy' rather than pity the evil-doer--which would foreclose the possibility of finding a 'solution' [to the problem of curing evil people]. To my way of thinking, there are people who commit grotesque, violent, destructive acts with absolute abandon and lack of all compassion and who behave evilly in such a way as to place them quite far beyond the pity of any sensible person, and certainly quite far beyond the realm of treatment . . . In fact to bestow pity on such people (such as Ian Brady and Myra Hindley--the "Moors" murderers) encourages the psychopathic section of the community because it shows them that the law- abiding majority (i.e., the "dupes and suckers" as they would view us) are soft, and just waiting to be taken advantage of and--once harmed or swindled--will bend over backwards to "understand" (in psychiatric terms, for example) and excuse and pity. Clearly it is psychopaths that are beyond the realm of treatment and Peck's (hopeful) attitude towards his evil patients was based on the view that they were not psychopaths. Peck and Stone are then, in agreement concerning the impossibility of treating psychopaths as things now stand. Conclusion My intention in this paper has been to show that Peck's diagnosis of evil as a psychiatric condition can be placed in the traditional context of moral psychology by showing how it accords, in many respects, with Kant's denial of the possibility of evil behaviour. The integration runs as follows: 1) Kant denies that evil behaviour is a possibility for rational beings; Peck conjectures that evil behaviour stems from an irrational source. 2) Kant denies that evil is a moral category; Peck agrees, in that evil people are in the grip of a malignant variety of narcissism and are therefore not morally responsible for their behaviour. Peck remarks in this context The designation of evil as a disease also obligates us to treat evil with compassion. By their very nature the evil inspire in us more of a desire to destroy than to heal, to hate than to pity. While these natural reactions serve to protect the uninitiated, they otherwise prevent any possible solution. I do not think we shall come any closer than we are today to understanding and, I hope, curing evil, until the healing professions name evil as an illness within the domain of their responsibility. (p. 127) 3) Kant denies that moral evil is possible and suggests that wickedness (self- indulgence) is what we actually witness in evil behaviour. The material from Parkin's Anthropology of Evil indicates that Kant's attempt to explain moral evil away as mere wickedness would not be generally accepted. I suggested that the explanation for this is that evil behaviour is not monstrous or random or unruly but is actually principled human behaviour except that the principles involved are private and unconscious principles. Peck provides an explanation of how the unacknowledged development of such private principles (in the form of a defence mechanism) could provide the hidden motivating power for evil behaviour. To sum up: my thesis explains an intuitively unacceptable anomaly in Kant (viz., his view that there is no such thing as evil behaviour, there is only wickedness ). At the same time it shows, via the notion of a private principle, how a "disease" (malignant narcissism) could have a moral bearing. Thus if the disease took the form of an unconscious allegiance to an unjustifiable principle then the behaviour would come to have a moral aspect. This follows from the fact that morality--in Kant's view--is centered around principled behaviour. Now Kant was not in possession of the idea of the unconscious. Therefore the idea of evil behaviour arising from willing in accordance with a private (unconscious) principle was not available to him. (As a consequence he had to simply reject as unintelligible the very possibility of evil behaviour in terms of his moral psychology.) For his part, Peck did not note the fact that moral behaviour essentially involves principles. Therefore he was unable to see that it is because evil behaviour does stem from (private) principles (serving as defense mechanisms) that such behaviour has traditionally been regarded as a species of moral behaviour, though an inexplicable one. (This traditional acceptance of evil as a puzzling moral concept is evident in the quotations from Parkin.) My object has been to show how these two points of view illuminate and complement each other. Given their quite independent origins it is significant that they chime together so well. I regard this fact as an indication that the understanding of evil behaviour which they jointly provide may be close to the truth of the matter. However, Stone would argue that this whole approach to the subject with its emphasis on moral psychology needs to be broadened in the following way. In his letter he sums up in this way: More importantly, one cannot begin to deal with the issue adequately, it seems to me, unless one reaches across to other fields of endeavor--most importantly, ethnology, and psychiatry. Human beings are social animals, utterly dependent upon the group for the survival of its members. What we call "moral" (and conversely, what we designate "evil")--though these are abstract, rather airy concepts--can better be understood as the expressions of the behavior patterns that permit us optimally to fit in with the group (and to succeed in reproducing, thus passing our genes into the next generation) or ... that violate the survival-requirements of the group, and thus ultimately fail to be reproductively adaptive. James Q. Wilson in his recent book ... The Moral Sense (New York: Free Press, 1993) mentions four important categories of group- friendly, adaptive, survival and gene-spread enhancing realms of behavior; namely, sympathy, duty, self-control and fairness. Robert Wright, in his even more recent book, The Moral Animal (New York: Pantheon, 1994) emphasizes the Darwinian/evolutionary aspects of what we call our moral sense (and by its opposite, our sense of what is evil). Certain otherwise hard-to-explain "altruistic" behaviors, for example, can be better understood in this way. A brother might sacrifice himself in order to save three of his brothers (since each bears one half of his genome) he is therefore willing to give up his 2 halves in order to insure the preservation of 3 halves. Men on the Titanic tended to save the women and children first--since this ensured the survival of the men's genes (children survive best if with their mothers) into the next generation, etc., etc. When the 700 people (4/5 of whom were petty criminals) landed at Botany Bay in 1788, a man who stole a chicken (an evil act considering the survival needs of the endangered group, who had little food) was hanged summarily. Consequently, his genes did not spread into the next generation. Those with less evil, better moral behavior patterns survived and did spread their (less impulsive, less un-compassionate) genes into the next generation. One has to realize, from genetics and psychiatry--that about half of personality is inherited. This means that there are very strong genetic components to compassion (and these are, in all likelihood, woefully lacking in the true psychopath) and to the imperiousness or moderateness of one's drive-strengths. These differences have an impact upon the strength of the tendency to indulge in or scrupulously to avoid committing evil acts. People with the most favorable genes vis-a-vis developing a moral sense, who are raised in the most moral families, and who rise to the highest level of moral development (i.e., where they could not bring themselves to do wrong even if no one were looking and they could get away with it) are comparatively uncommon. But these are the ones who, even in Nazi Germany, were willing to die rather than to commit atrocities against the various targets of Nazi evil (as was the case with a famous Lutheran clergyman whom the Nazis eventually executed: Dietrich Bonhoeffer). Michael Stone's psychiatric perspective on malignant narcissism (associated with Kernberg's work) challenges the importance of the link which I forged between Kant and Peck. In my account there is a near-perfect dovetailing of the two different psychological perspectives: that of Kant's moral psychology which lacks the resources to accommodate the possibility of evil and Peck's psychiatric diagnosis of evil which explains (suitably construed) how an unconscious adherence to unacknowledged principles could be the driving power behind evil behaviour. I argued that this link serves to explain some of the problems traditionally associated with understanding evil behaviour. Stone would perhaps be inclined to the view that the subtleties involved in integrating the concepts central to these two ways of understanding moral psychology are unnecessary. He would take this view because--following Wilson and Wright--he would say that our moral behaviour (whether positive or negative in character) is, at bottom, a function of genetic inheritance. He qualifies this view by saying that genetic predispositions account for only fifty percent of our personality ("One has to realize, from genetics and psychiatry--that about half of personality is inherited.") but the tenor of his remarks quoted above (relating to Wilson and Wright) makes it clear that he is inclined to the view that the genetic basis of personality is what really turns the wheels when it comes to the exercise of human agency. This naturalistic approach takes the view that explanations of human behaviour which depend on traditional moral psychologies are superfluous in the light of a physical (genetic) explanation of behaviour. This difference in approach exemplifies the current state of the longstanding debate on the correct way to understand human behaviour and with it, evil. References Buber, M. 1952. Images of Good and Evil. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Cassin, A. 1990. 'Orientarsi nella patologia borderline. Psichiatria Generale e dell' Etat Evolutiva 28 no. 2:141-164. Goldman, Harriet A. 1988. Paradise Destroyed: The Crime of Being Born: A Psychoanalytic Study of the Experience of Evil. Contemporary Psychoanalysis 24: 420-450. Kant, I. 1960. Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone. Trans. T.M. Green and H.H. Hudson. New York: Harper Brothers. Kernberg, O. F. 1986. Severe Personality Disorders: Psychotherapeutic Strategies. New Haven: Yale University Press. Kernberg, O. F. l989. The narcissistic personality disorder and the differential diagnosis of antisocial behavior. Psychiatric Clinics of North America 12, no. 3:553-570. Parkin, D., ed. 1985. The Anthropology of Evil. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Paton, H.J. 1948. The Moral Law: Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. London: Hutchinson University Library. Peck, M. S. 1983. People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. New York: Simon and Schuster. Post, J. M. 1991. Saddam Hussein of Iraq: A political psychology profile. Political Psychology 12, no. 2:279-289. Post, J. M. l993. Current concepts of the narcissistic personality: Implications for political philosophy. Political Psychology 14, no. 1:99-121. Stone, M. H. 1989. Murder. Psychiatric Clinics of North America 12, no. 3:643- 651. Wilson, J. Q. 1993. The Moral Sense. New York: Free Press. Wright, R. 1994. The Moral Animal. New York: Pantheon. 1 Dr. Michael H. Stone (Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University) was kind enough to write me a long letter in response to a draft of this article. I have used extracts from it to serve as a running commentary from the point of view of someone who has recently written on some of the more notorious modern perpetrators of evil, serial killers: see 'Murder', Stone, Michael H., Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 1989 Sep Vol 12(3) 643-651 2 The following articles and books were those containing the key words 'malignant narcissism' in the CD ROM Silver Platter 3.11 Psychological Abstracts (January 87- March 94): Otto F Kernberg's Severe Personality Disorders: Psychotherapeutic Strategies (1986), and 'The narcissistic personality disorder and the differential diagnosis of antisocial behavior' (1989); Michael H. Stone's 'Murder' (1989); A. Cassin's 'Orientarsi nella patologia borderline' (1990); Jerrold M. Post's 'Saddam Hussein of Iraq: A political psychology profile' (1991), and 'Current concepts of the narcissistic personality: Implications for political philosophy' (1993). 3 (Thus he remarks) "it [malignant narcissism] may be seen reductionistically [i.e., in accordance with the norms of the DSM] as merely the conjunction of "NPD X ASP " . . . [viz; "narcissistic personality disorder X Anti-social personality]). p.649 COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS WELCOME AT: david.ward@stonebow.otago.ac.nz