TakeOnIt
Compare opinions of world leading experts and influencers.

Are our enemies innately evil?

It's easy to label our enemies "evil", as if they must know what they're doing is wrong, but decide to do it anyway. However, the alternative view is that our enemies have moral justifications for their actions, and believe in their righteousness just as much as we do.

Implications to Other Questions

Are our enemies innately evil?
Is free will an illusion?

Experts and Influencers

Suggest Expert Quote (click to expand, no login required)
Agree
Experts In Politics


George W. Bush    United States President 2001-2009
Agree
No threat--no threat--will prevent freedom-loving people from defending freedom. And make no mistake about it, this is good versus evil. These were evildoers. They have no justification for their actions. There is no religious justification. There is no political justification. The only motivation is evil.
25 Sep 2001    Source


Hugo Chávez    President of Venezuela
Agree
Yesterday the devil came here. Right here. [crosses himself] And it smells of sulfur still today. Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States...
20 Sep 2006    Source


Kevin Rudd    Australian Prime Minister, 2007-2010
Agree
People smugglers are engaged in the world's most evil trade and they should all rot in jail because they represent the absolute scum of the earth. ... [they] are the vilest form of human life. They trade on the tragedy of others and that's why they should rot in jail and in my own view, rot in hell.
17 Apr 2009    Source


Experts In Christianity


Albert Mohler    President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Agree
President Bush rightly characterized these murders as "evil, despicable acts of terror." We must call evil by its proper name and refuse to slander the victims by ascribing rationality to the terrorists' cause. These murderers were driven by an irrational rage... ..."sin" is an indispensable explanation. These acts of terror were not merely attacks upon individuals [but] attacks upon God's dignity, God's creatures, God's law, and God's glory.
13 Sep 2001    Source


Experts In War


Osama Bin Laden    Former Leader of Al Qaeda
Agree
I couldn't forget those moving scenes, blood and severed limbs, women and children sprawled everywhere. Houses destroyed along with their occupants and high rises demolished over their residents, rockets raining down on our home without mercy. ...oppression and the intentional killing of innocent women and children is a deliberate American policy. ... Is defending oneself and punishing the aggressor in kind, objectionable terrorism? If it is such, then it is unavoidable for us.
01 Nov 2004    Source


Disagree
Experts In Philosophy


Friedrich Nietzsche    Iconic Philosopher of 19th Century
Disagree
At first we call particular acts good or evil without any consideration of their motives... ...then we assign the goodness or evil to the motives... [Then we] go even further and cease to give to the particular motive the predicate good or evil, but give it rather to the whole nature of a man... Ultimately we discover that his nature cannot be responsible either, in that it is itself an inevitable consequence, an outgrowth of the elements and influences of past and present things...
01 Jan 1878    Source

Sub-Arguments Of This Expert:
Is free will an illusion?
   Agree

Hannah Arendt    Political Theorist
Disagree
...evil is not radical, going to the roots... [it] has no depth, and that for this very reason it is so terribly difficult to think about it, since thinking, by definition, wants to reach the roots. Evil is a surface phenomenon, and instead of being radical, it is merely extreme. We resist evil by not being swept away by the surface of things [and] reaching another dimension than the horizon of everyday life. ...the more superficial someone is, the more likely will he be to yield to evil.
01 Jan 1978    Source


Experts In Psychology


Dale Carnegie    Famous 20th Century Writer
Disagree
Crowley was sentenced to the electric chair. When he arrived at the death house in Sing Sing, did he say, "This is what I get for killing people"? No, he said: "This is what I get for defending myself." The point of the story is this: "Two Gun" Crowley didn't blame himself for anything. Is that an unusual attitude among criminals? [Think again...] Dutch Schultz, one of New York's most notorious rats, said in a newspaper interview that he was a public benefactor. And he believed it.
01 Jan 1936    Source


Experts In Science


Eliezer Yudkowsky    Artificial Intelligence Researcher
Disagree
When someone actually offends us - commits an action of which we (rightly or wrongly) disapprove - then, I observe, the correspondence bias redoubles. There seems to be a very strong tendency to blame evil deeds on the Enemy's mutant, evil disposition. ... Realistically, most people don't construct their life stories with themselves as the villains. Everyone is the hero of their own story. The Enemy's story, as seen by the Enemy, is not going to make the Enemy look bad.
26 Jun 2007    Source

Sub-Arguments Of This Expert:
Is free will an illusion?
   Disagree

Neutral
Experts In Philosophy


John Judis    Political Analyst
Neutral
[I] wouldn't balk at calling Al Qaeda or Hitler evil... [but rather than ask if] there were a distinct substance that [evil] referred to, [ask about the] kind of activities or individuals that it is used to condemn. ...calling someone evil [is] the verbal equivalent of hitting someone. In foreign policy discussions, it often indicates an attempt to cut short rather than to advance an argument. ... [it] doesn't add a new detail to a discussion... the term possesses weight, but not substance.
17 Dec 2009    Source


Experts In Science


Richard Dawkins    Evolutionary Biologist, Writer, Atheism Activist
Neutral
I mistrust the uses of words like 'evil' which suggest a kind of personification of them. I'm happy to use a word like 'evil' of a particular individual. I'm happy to say that Adolf Hitler was evil, Adolf Hitler did evil things, but too many people once again, leap to the conclusion 'Oh there must be some kind of spirit of evil which entered into Hitler,' or 'There's a spirit of evil abroad'. That I think is unhelpful, putting it mildly.
01 Apr 2004    Source



Comments

Add Your TakeOnIt (click to expand, no login required)
0 Points      blacktrance      11 Feb 2011      Stance on Question: Neutral
It highly depends on what is meant by "our", "enemies", and "evil".


0 Points      OmnipotentRabbit      10 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Disagree
Nothing is innately evil. It is simply a question of value and moral systems; there is no simple "evil spirit" that pervades certain people throughout history. These "evil" people are simply following what they think is right, and labelling them as innately evil only serves to further undermine our understanding of them. This blocks all discussion on moral values with the enemy, ignoring anything of value that they would provide, since it would then surely be "evil" and harfmul.

It is simply unproductive to further this viewpoint.


1 Point      Adam Atlas      05 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Mostly Disagree
I think Dawkins is exactly right about this (though it still feels more like a "Mostly Disagree" than a "Neutral" to me). My position is basically this:

I feel free to judge certain people and certain actions as truly evil. I think that comes standard with having a moral system. I just won't pretend that this is an explanation for anything, an innate or causally-active quality of certain people. By "causally-active" I mean positing evil as some specific force that makes people do certain things. I see it the other way around: there are many factors that can cause people to do evil things, and past a certain threshold, it's appropriate to describe an entire person as evil. But it's still usually unhelpful.

You can judge your enemy to be evil, but that tells you nothing about how to defeat them or how to prevent future evil from arising.


1 Point      JGWeissman      27 Mar 2010      Stance on Question: Mostly Disagree
I consider three classes of enemies. The most extreme agrees with us about what is good and what is evil, but deliberately does what is evil. I don't believe enemies of this type actually exist, and I only include the type for conceptual completeness.

Then there are those who disagree with us about what is good and what is evil, and do what they consider good and we consider evil. At this time when other agents we deal with are all human, I think that there may be some enemies of this type, but they are rare. These I would consider innately evil, though they would disagree with me.

And finally, there are those, I believe the most common, who, at some level of abstraction, are our mirror images. They want for themselves the same good things we want for ourselves, and these wants are in conflict. These are not innately evil, and it is a tragedy when this type of conflict is resolved through coercion rather than compromise that reflects our shared values of providing the good things for all of us.


0 Points      Benja      28 Mar 2010      Stance on Question: Mostly Disagree
Great analysis. I need to implement a voting system to vote this answer up.



1 Point      Joe      17 Mar 2010      Stance on Question: Disagree
It's interesting that the supporters of this position are all devoutly religous... maybe it's eaiser to believe in innate evil if you believe in a supernatural framework.


0 Points      Benja      17 Mar 2010      General Comment
Actually, I recall Dawkins in an interview referring to Hitler and Stalin as evil...

Added Dawkins' opinion. Yeah, I agree with you, this does so far seem to be religiously/politically correlated.