Problem

Moral evil

Nature:

Moral evil is any morally negative event caused by the intentional action or inaction of an agent, such as a person. An example of a moral evil might be murder, or any other evil event for which someone can be held responsible or culpable.

This concept can be contrasted with natural evil, in which a bad event occurs naturally, without the intervention of an agent. The dividing line between natural and moral evil is not absolutely clear however, as some behaviour can be unintentional yet morally significant and some natural events (for example, global warming) can be caused by intentional actions.

The distinction of evil from 'bad' is complex. Evil is more than simply 'negative' or 'bad' (i.e. undesired or inhibiting good) as evil is on its own, and without reference to any other event, morally incorrect. The validity of 'moral evil' as a term, therefore, rests on the validity of morals in ethics.

Claim:
The problem of moral evil, the most tragic of evil's forms, is also addressed in the Bible, which tells us that such evil stems not from any material deficiency, but is a wound inflicted by the disordered exercise of human freedom. In the end, the word of God poses the problem of the meaning of life and proffers its response in directing the human being to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, who is the perfect realization of human existence. A reading of the sacred text would reveal other aspects of this problem; but what emerges clearly is the rejection of all forms of relativism, materialism and pantheism. (Papal Encyclical, Fides et Ratio, 14 September 1998).
Broader Problems:
Evil
Immorality
Aggravates:
Human suffering
Values:
Evil
Immorality
Problem Type:
J: Problems Under Consideration
Subject(s):
Innovative change Change
Date of last update
23.04.2000 – 00:00 CEST