User login

Evil: A Very Short Introduction [#712]
Evil: A Very Short Introduction [#712]
  • Explores the philosophical thinking and psychological evidence behind evil
  • Engages with famous examples of evildoers including serial killers, terrorists, and war criminals, as well as examples from fiction
  • Gives a systematic overview of the various kinds of extreme wrongdoing, and considers the cores questions when thinking about evil

We regularly encounter appalling wrongdoing, with the media offering a depressing parade of violent assault, rape, and murder. Yet sometimes even the cynical and world-weary amongst us are taken aback. Sometimes we confront a crime so terrible, so horrendous, so deeply wrong, that we reach for the word 'evil'. The 9/11 terrorist attacks were not merely wrong, but evil. A serial killer who tortures his victims is not merely a bad person. He is evil. And as the Holocaust showed us, we must remain vigilant against the threat of evil. But what exactly is evil? If we use the word 'evil', are we buying into a naive Manichean worldview, in which two cosmic forces of good and evil are pitted against one another? Are we guilty of demonizing our enemies? How does 'evil' go beyond what is merely bad or wrong?

This Very Short Introduction explores the answers that philosophers have offered to these questions. Luke Russell discusses why some philosophers think that evil is a myth or a fantasy, while others think that evil is real, and is a concept which plays an important role in contemporary secular morality. Along the way he asks whether evil is always horrific and incomprehensible, or if it can be banal. Considering if there is a special psychological hallmark that sets the evildoers apart from the rest of us, Russell also engages with ongoing discussions over psychopathy and empathy, analysing the psychology behind evildoing.


1:The philosophical puzzle of evil
2:The horror and incomprehensibility of evil
3:The psychological hallmark of evil
4:The banality of evil
5:An evil person
6:Are you evil? Is anyone evil?

About the author: 

Luke Russell, The University of Sydney
Luke Russell is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, where he teaches ethics and critical thinking. Luke has written on various topics in the field of moral philosophy, including evil, forgiveness, virtue, and vice, and is the author of Evil: A Philosophical Investigation (OUP, 2014).

Product details

ISBN : 9780198819271

Luke Russell
128 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Oct 2022
Very Short Introductions
Customer reviews

You may also like

Customer reviews



The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Evil: A Very Short Introduction [#712]

Evil: A Very Short Introduction [#712]

Evil: A Very Short Introduction [#712]