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Naming Evil Judging Evil$
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Ruth W. Grant

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226306735

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226306742.001.0001

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Evil and the Morality of Conviction

Evil and the Morality of Conviction

(p.121) Chapter 6 Evil and the Morality of Conviction
Naming Evil Judging Evil

David Wong

University of Chicago Press

This chapter is about the moral psychology of those who do evil as they wage war upon evil. It focuses on the “morality of conviction” that simplifies and polarizes for the sake of meaning, certitude, and decisiveness. The primary example is the downward spiral dance between those Islamists who invoke fundamentalist views to motivate and justify terrorist attacks on the United States and its allies, and those in the United States who oppose them but are fundamentally alike in misperceiving the motivations of the other side. While nuanced appreciation of the truth in the position of one's opponents can lead to paralysis and while decisive action is served by oversimplification, in the best case, we must act decisively with our eyes wide open, in honest acknowledgment of the moral ambiguities of the conflict.

Keywords:   moral psychology, evil, Islamists, terrorist attacks, moral ambiguities, certitude, decisiveness

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