I have been wondering why we can't defeat evil with evil, why Evil cannot drive out Evil?

Why we can't take evil as a means to an end goodness?

Specifically, say why we can't lie to an evil guy, such that his evil plan fails? (yes, Kant has another idea.but it really sounds something operational to me like operator in mathematics. I would like to know more about the essence of morality. )

  • There are actually several questions here. (1) Can we lie to try to accomplish a greater good? (2) can evil be used as a means to goodness? (3) Can we defeat evil with evil? (what does "defeat" mean here???)
    – virmaior
    Mar 2 '14 at 12:38
  • 1
    You should read more about utilitarian (more broadly, consequentialist) ethics. In such frameworks, lying to the evil guy is not only allowed but is the most moral thing to do so long as the total outcome ends up best that way.
    – Rex Kerr
    Mar 2 '14 at 12:56
  • Thanks for answering; "defeat" here means to "prevent the evil from doing harm".
    – Shing
    Mar 2 '14 at 14:50
  • I do know a bit of utilitarian or Kant's Ethicss,but what I am worried about is that my professor told me that Evil can never defeat evil and why?
    – Shing
    Mar 2 '14 at 14:54
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    In a game of evil versus evil, evil always wins.
    – David H
    Mar 3 '14 at 3:38

Strangely enough I just explained this a couple of weeks ago to a friend.

I took a numerological approach.

And I'll justify why I'm doing it here for clarifications sake. Math is a good way to describe reality, because it is pretty much unambiguous.

Ok. Good and evil depend on perspective. What's good for me might not be good for you.

So good for me = +1 bad for me or evil is -1. (from my perspective.)

If good = +1 and evil = -1 then:

-1 + -1 = -2

So you cannot defeat evil with more evil.

An example would be revenge. You hurt me and in order to get back at you I hurt you. And then you hurt me again. Until eventually either one or both of us are so hurt that we are cripples. A lot of -1.

A +1 would be peace and harmony, synergy, cooperation. But that would be a +1.

What you can do however is multiply by -1 instead of adding -1

Then you have -1 * -1 = 1 and you are back to good. Depending on the perspective.

What happens when you multiply by -1? The direction changes. It's the same thing, like a road sign, but now it points in the different direction. That means that either you have changed your own position and perspective on the issue and can see the good in it now. Or you have somehow turned the "bad" thing around to point in the "right", "good" direction.

  • Math is great, but you have to motivate why you're connecting some formal system to reality. You might find this answer helpful.
    – labreuer
    Mar 3 '14 at 18:32

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