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Evil in Contemporary Political Theory$
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Bruce Haddock and Peri Roberts

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748641963

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641963.001.0001

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Constructivism and Evil

Constructivism and Evil

(p.42) Chapter 3 Constructivism and Evil
Evil in Contemporary Political Theory

Peri Roberts

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter argues that a notion of evil represents a necessary limiting conception for a defensible politics. Much of contemporary liberal theory is constructivist in a way that is usually taken to rule out categorical moral judgements that draw on notions of objective good and evil. In contrast, this chapter explores the role that a properly developed conception of evil can play in liberal constructivism. Firstly theories of evil are an important basis for a cross-cultural understanding of wrongness that can be framed in a liberal manner. Second, the content of theories of evil appears much less partial than ideas of the good that predominate in liberal discussion. Liberal constructivism, often castigated for offering an inadequate understanding of human goods, is thus well placed to outline a sparser notion of human evil that can anchor discussions of value.

Keywords:   theories of evil, contemporary liberal theory, liberal constructivism, wrongness, moral judgements

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