© 2009

The Positive Function of Evil

  • Pedro Alexis Tabensky

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Robert Merrihew Adams
    Pages 1-13
  3. Pedro Alexis Tabensky
    Pages 45-65
  4. Richard H. Bell
    Pages 66-80
  5. Heather Widdows
    Pages 81-97
  6. Elisa Galgut
    Pages 98-111
  7. Adam Morton
    Pages 127-138
  8. John Kekes
    Pages 139-154
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 172-185

About this book


This collection explores the controversial and perhaps even abject idea that evils, large and small, human and natural, may have a central positive function to play in our lives. For centuries a concern of religious thinkers from the Christian tradition, very little systematic work has been done to explore this idea from the secular point of view.


bibliography idea love morality play psychoanalysis psychology tradition tragedy

Editors and affiliations

  • Pedro Alexis Tabensky
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRhodes UniversitySouth Africa

About the editors

ROBERT MERRIHEW ADAMS is a Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy, Mansfield College, Oxford, and Visiting Professor of Philosophy in the University of Oxford, UK RICHARD H. BELL is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, The College of Wooster, Ohio, USA ELISA GALGUT teaches in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town, South Africa JOHN KEKES is retired Professor of Philosophy now works as an independent author. MICHAEL LACEWING is Director of Research and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Heythrop College, London, UK THADDEUS METZ is Professor of Philosophy, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa ADAM MORTON holds a Canada Research Chair in Epistemology and Decision Theory at the University of Alberta, Canada GEOFFREY SCARRE is Professor of Philosophy, Durham University, UK SAMANTHA VICE is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Rhodes University, South Africa HEATHER WIDDOWS is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy, University of Birmingham, UK

Bibliographic information

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"An unusual and stimulating collection. The presence of evil in our world, so often discussed from a religious viewpoint, is here tackled from a largely secular perspective. The papers open up a fascinating array of ethical and psychological questions about the human moral predicament."

- John Cottingham

"It is perhaps no surprise that the country which gave the world the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should also play host to creative and unorthodox work in moral philosophy. Welcome evidence of the fact comes in the shape of this stimulating volume of essays, which explore various aspects of the question whether human life is made better by the presence in it of evil."

- Edward Harcourt, University of Oxford, UK