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A dark universal: towards a Thomistic theory of evil / Robert Michael Snell ; supervisor: Dr. Paul Formosa.
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 21:06 authored by Robert Michael Snell
There has been a recent revival of philosophical interest in the nature of evil. Some philosophers have argued that evil is not a useful moral concept and ought be retired. Other philosophers think that evil is a category with a legitimate place in moral philosophy, and cannot simply be eliminated without cost. These thinkers have come up with various understandings of what evil is and what talk of evil is good for. In this thesis, I elucidate and defend the theory of evil of the medieval philosopher, Thomas Aquinas. This project has two main parts. In the first, I discuss Aquinas’ belief that evil is to be understood as the privation of goodness. I argue that a main weakness of recent defenses of the privation theory of evil stems from a neglect of the intricate metaphysical framework in which Aquinas embedded his moral philosophy. I argue that the theory is plausible when interpreted in this context. In the second part, I examine the Guise of the Good thesis, which holds that every action is done for the sake of some real or perceived good. I argue that this thesis, which is significant to Aquinas’ understanding of evil, also escapes common objections and is plausible when understood in the context of Aquinas’ metaphysics.