21-22 January 2012
An interdisciplinary international two-day conference organised by the Science and Religious Conflict Project Team, under the auspices of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and kindly sponsored by The Mind Association, the Society for Applied Philosophy and the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics. The conference examined and promoted discussion of the role of evil as a moral concept in practical ethics and explored its positive and negative implications to moral thought and practice.
• Professor Julian Savulescu
• Dr Steve Clarke
• Dr Shlomit Harrosh
Speakers and papers:
• Gwen Adshead (Broadmoor Hospital) - Can We Treat Evil?
• Claudia Card (University of Wisconsin-Madison) - The Challenges of Global and Local Misogyny
• Steve Clarke (University of Oxford) - A Religious Conception of Evil
• Eve Garrard (University of Manchester) - What Use Is the Concept of Evil to Us?
• Shlomit Harrosh (University of Oxford) - Moral Enhancement and the Duty to Eliminate Evildoing
• John Kekes (University of Albany) - The Secular Problem of Evil
• Robin May Schott (Danish Institute for International Studies) – The Scale of Evil
• Arne Johan Vetlesen (University of Oslo) - Narratives of Entitlement
• Alan Wolfe (Boston College) - Evil in General, Political Evil in Particular
Notes on the conference:
The Science and Religious Conflict Project Conference on Moral Evil in Practical Ethics took place on 21-22 January, 2012 at the University Club in Oxford, under the auspices of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. The conference included nine papers, as well as responses to all of these by commentators and general discussion of all papers. The conference was a well-attended event and resulted in lively and fruitful exchanges.
Conference speakers included leading international figures on the subject of evil from a variety of disciplines, predominantly philosophy, but also psychiatry, the cognitive science of religion, and political science. The speakers addressed various dimensions of evil as a moral concept, exploring whether and how the concept of evil can be meaningfully and usefully applied to pressing practical issues in a way that furthers our understanding and guides our responses to them.
The papers presented in the conference covered a broad range of topics. Eve Garrard (University of Manchester) opened the conference by asking: What use is the concept of evil to us? Gwen Adshead (Broadmoor Hospital) answered by exploring the use of the concept of evil to the treatment of psychopaths, while Arne Johan Vetlesen (University of Oslo) spoke of the relevance of evil to madness and moral responsibility in the context of the July 2011 terror attacks in Norway by Anders B. Breivik. Shlomit Harrosh (University of Oxford) examined the relevance of a duty to eliminate evildoing to the issue of moral enhancement through biomedical and genetic means. And Claudia Card (University of Wisconsin-Madison) addressed the relevance of evil to understanding and responding to global and local misogyny. A novel, complex perspective on school bullying was suggested by Robin May Schott’s (Danish Institute for International Studies) comparison of bullying with large scale evils. Alan Wolfe (Boston College) spoke on the importance of a distinctly political conception of evil to the way we respond to certain instances of political violence. Steve Clarke (University of Oxford) developed a religious as opposed to a theological conception of evil and John Kekes (University of Albany) concluded the conference by introducing a secular conception of evil which focused on the relationship between evil, ideology and narratives of justification and entitlement.
With thanks to the Mind Association, the Society for Applied Philosophy and the Oxford Centre for Neuroethicsfor their sponsorship.