College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Full Title of Thesis or Dissertation

Reframing theories of evil: ethics, violence and the state

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evil, freedom of the will, state violence, hate crime, genocide-denial


Which theoretical frameworks are most powerful in providing us venues to think about evil, and how do they contribute to making “the social production and distribution of evil” visible or invisible? In its everyday usage, evil is a category that is often ascribed retrospectively, named after the event, signaling the occurrence of harm. Yet, not every occurrence of harm “appears” as evil, i.e., intellectually become available under the category of evil. In most cases of state violence, the harmful act does not come to be viewed by the public as evil.

Hence, in this study, I question the relation between the occurrence of a harmful act and the failure to grasp that harmful occurrence with the concept of evil in cases of state violence. In light of this, on the one hand, I examine Augustine and Kant’s theories of evil in view of problematizing their individualistic and de-contextualized approach, and, on the other, I focus on various forms of state violence as manifestations of evil. I argue that in certain cases of evil, such as hate crimes, the intended act is not as "personal", "individual" and "freely chosen" as it is readily assumed by the Augustinian-Kantian treatments. I further argue that in cases where evil is socially produced, e.g. in cases of hate crimes, attention should be directed towards the social and historical context, where, nationalist and racist discourses produced and distributed by the state condition the production of evil actions.

Available for download on Tuesday, June 14, 2033