Universität Wien FIND
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180136 SE The Moral Psychology of Evil (2016S)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 30 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Friday 04.03. 11:00 - 14:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Saturday 19.03. 11:00 - 14:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Friday 08.04. 11:00 - 14:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Saturday 09.04. 13:15 - 16:30 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Friday 15.04. 11:00 - 14:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Friday 22.04. 11:00 - 14:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock
Friday 29.04. 11:00 - 14:15 Hörsaal. 2H NIG 2.Stock


Aims, contents and method of the course

We are surrounded today by individual actions and group activities that invite the old, moralistic language of e v i l, a t r o c i t y, and u n m i t i g a t e d w r o n g d o i n g. At the same time, philosophical positions in the post-Enlightenment era include the Evil Skeptics (with Nietzsche perhaps the most famous), Evil Revivers, and those influenced by the accumulated social science about moral psychology, who we might call the Evil Explainers-Away. This course explores the varying assumptions, theories, and empirical findings at the center of those contested positions, and the methodology of experimental ethics. Topics include the concept of a moral monster; efforts to define evil such as those of Hanna Arendt and Claudia Card; s i t u a t i o n i s t challenges to traditional notions of vicious character; the part played by (i) early suffering and deprivation and (ii) cognitive disability and disorder in attributions of evildoing; new empirical findings and theorizing about collective wrongdoing, and finally, the implications of these debates for ethical theory.
Students will
* acquire an understanding of the leading contemporary philosophical theories of evil, including those supported by empirical methodologies
* become familiar with key psychological explanations of evildoing
* learn to interpret, clarify and critically discuss texts, ideas and empirical findings
* acquire skill in giving oral presentations and writing short essays on specifically-focused topics
* close reading of a range of texts
* group discussion
* oral presentations on reading materials

Assessment and permitted materials

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Requirements for passing the course
* attending at least 5 of the 7 seminars
* preparing a short oral presentation on one of the readings
* submitting two short essays (2500 words each) on topics of their choosing related to the material covered in the seminars, one due after the Easter break, and the second on the last day of classes. Each essay must show familiarity with at least two readings from the bibliography.

Examination topics

Reading list

Readings and weekly topics
The readings for each seminar after the first should be completed before the seminar and will be made available a week before each session on moodle. Required readings are marked with an asterisk. The first seminar will be introductory, with readings introduced in class to be completed afterwards.

Association in the course directory

BA M6.2, BA M 11, BA M 14, UF PP 11

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:36