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At what point does one become evil?

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airborne
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A man who steals chocolates from a petrol station.

Is this man evil or was his act evil?

He's not evil, nor are his acts. I know evil is an absolute so in that way his act is evil but of a way lower degree then say a murderer. So a man who occasionally does stupid acts.

A man who kills another man.

Assuming he did this without a valid reason then he is an evil man - but how long is he evil for? What if he becomes the CEO of one of the biggest companies and vows to himself never to do such evil again? Is he still evil - or was he once evil?

A man who sexually abused his kids but stopped one year ago.

Evil but again same problem as above.

A man who sexually abused his kid but stopped since yesterday.

Lets make this more interesting by saying that in this case he apoligised to his kids and reported himself to police authorities vowing to change and become a better man. Is he still evil?

Perhaps someone is evil if justice has not come his way. So a murder is evil, unless dead, in which case he is no longer anything. A man who sexually abused his kids is evil until he changes(how this is judged I dont know).

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A man who steals chocolates from a petrol station.

Is this man evil or was his act evil?

The man is evil. The act is also evil, though there's a bit of metaphorical extension.
He's not evil, nor are his acts. I know evil is an absolute so in that way his act is evil but of a way lower degree then say a murderer.
You're contradicting yourself. Just because a man is not as evil for stealing as for murdering does not mean he is not evil. If that were so, only the most evil person would be evil, and all others would be stupid.
A man who kills another man.

Assuming he did this without a valid reason then he is an evil man - but how long is he evil for?

And made the choice to murder. Evil is fundamentally about choices, not end results. If a man chooses a righteous path and accidentally kills another, that isn't evil. He is evil for as long as he is evil. You shouldn't confuse "is evil" with "is judged by others, based on his act, to be evil". You have to tell us more about the guy.
What if he becomes the CEO of one of the biggest companies and vows to himself never to do such evil again? Is he still evil - or was he once evil?
Even if he didn't become a CEO or even a bookkeeper, he might change. I don't know the facts of this guy, so I can't say whether I believe he has changed his character.
A man who sexually abused his kids but stopped one year ago.
I would not be inclined to think that he has actually changed his character, especially if the only change is that he stopped the abuse.
A man who sexually abused his kid but stopped since yesterday.
That doesn't qualify as "stopped".
Lets make this more interesting by saying that in this case he apoligised to his kids and reported himself to police authorities vowing to change and become a better man. Is he still evil?
I don't have access to that information. I can't introspect into his mind. I'm more willing to think that he has actually changed his character in this case. But again, evil isn't a sin that stands or is erased in response to the number of Hail Mary's you say. Evil is a fact about a person's character, and you should not confuse the facts of someone else's character with the evidence you have. It's a mistake to think that evil is a social construct having to do with your relationship to other people. OTOH, you should judge others based on the evidence you have, assuming you've done a decent job of assessing that evidence.
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A man who steals chocolates from a petrol station.

Is this man evil or was his act evil?

The man is evil. The act is also evil, though there's a bit of metaphorical extension.

I agree, the man is evil. What is a metaphorical extension and what do you mean by this?

He's not evil, nor are his acts. I know evil is an absolute so in that way his act is evil but of a way lower degree then say a murderer.

You're contradicting yourself. Just because a man is not as evil for stealing as for murdering does not mean he is not evil. If that were so, only the most evil person would be evil, and all others would be stupid.

Yes, that was silly statement in retrospect.

A man who kills another man. Assuming he did this without a valid reason then he is an evil man - but how long is he evil for?

And made the choice to murder. Evil is fundamentally about choices, not end results. If a man chooses a righteous path and accidentally kills another, that isn't evil. He is evil for as long as he is evil. You shouldn't confuse "is evil" with "is judged by others, based on his act, to be evil". You have to tell us more about the guy.

"He is evil for as long as he is evil" - I fail to see how this helps me determine if someone is evil.

EDIT: I deleted a few of my replies because I understood what you wrote only after I began writing my question to you :)

I don't have access to that information. I can't introspect into his mind. I'm more willing to think that he has actually changed his character in this case. But again, evil isn't a sin that stands or is erased in response to the number of Hail Mary's you say. Evil is a fact about a person's character, and you should not confuse the facts of someone else's character with the evidence you have. It's a mistake to think that evil is a social construct having to do with your relationship to other people. OTOH, you should judge others based on the evidence you have, assuming you've done a decent job of assessing that evidence.

I just suddenly understood while having re-read this a few times. No one can truly determine if the man is evil since we cannot introspect into his mind. We can make our best objective judgments in determining this however. So I guess "evil" is not time dependent rather philosophy-dependent(his beliefs/attitudes), but "time" is our(an outsiders) best means of objective judgment. A guy who has not committed a crime in ten years can almost certainly be trusted(or said to be not evil) compared to someone who has not committed a crime in 2 months(given the ideal context). Am I on the right track?

btw how can I quote like DragonMarci, a quote within a quote?

Edited by airborne
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I cannot really say how others should be, but for me, I would consider that evil, all counts.

If I am evil and I decide I want to be good, well, I have to to earn it. I cannot expect my own self esteen to think I am good, when I have been bad. I must do good work, and choose better and then one day I look in the mirror and only then , when I am good, I am good.

:)

Nice to meet y'all

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No one can truly determine if the man is evil since we cannot introspect into his mind. We can make our best objective judgments in determining this however.
The point I was trying to get across is that the question of whether a person is evil isn't the same as our judgment of him as evil. That is, evil is a fact about the person, not the person in relationship to others. But I would not go so far as to say that we cannot know if a person is evil because we can't introspect into his mind. The question is simply whether we have enough evidence to make a judgment. Adolf Hitler was evil, and we can be certain of that, based purely on his actions. Time is relevant in that when a man repeatedly does evil things over a period of time, we can rule out explanations like "He was drunk that night" or "he was temporarily insane". It is also relevant in contemplating whether a change of character is even imaginable. A leopard can change his spots, but not overnight.
A guy who has not committed a crime in ten years can almost certainly be trusted(or said to be not evil) compared to someone who has not committed a crime in 2 months(given the ideal context)
I think that's a pretty weak foundation for trust and moral re-evaluation, if that's all there is. Most people can manage to go without committing a crime for many, many decades, and cannot be said to be "certainly trustworthy". I'd want to see prolonged, positive evidence of good character before taking seriously the idea that the person had had a change of character.
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A guy who has not committed a crime in ten years can almost certainly be trusted(or said to be not evil) compared to someone who has not committed a crime in 2 months(given the ideal context).

You mean like this guy?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_List

He killed his mom, his wife, and his three kids. For the next 18 years he was a model citizen. Do you think he "can almost certainly be trusted?"

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A guy who has not committed a crime in ten years can almost certainly be trusted(or said to be not evil) compared to someone who has not committed a crime in 2 months(given the ideal context). Am I on the right track?

Criminal activity is not the only gauge of a man's honesty. There are liars who are not criminals. I'm not sure why you are so focused on the "time" thing. "Time" may or may not be one factor when considering a person's change in behavior and subsequent trustworthiness.

Oddly enough, I think this is related to your question. This is a current controversy in the city where I work.

Some people say this man paid his "debt" to society and should be allowed to have his post. Ironically, when this all came to a head, he still owed nearly $10,000 in fines from the 90's. Has enough time passed that this man should be entrusted to have access to police resources and have input on directing their allocation? Or is the nature of his crimes so enduring that he should never be entrusted with that type of authority given that there are other people out there who could do the same job who have never killed a person?

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A man who steals chocolates from a petrol station.

Is this man evil or was his act evil?

He's not evil, nor are his acts. I know evil is an absolute so in that way his act is evil but of a way lower degree then say a murderer. So a man who occasionally does stupid acts.

Much the same as it is not the gun that killed the person but the other person pulling the trigger, taking the chocolates would not be stealing but for the person having stole them. Technically speaking, the individual facilitated the act in his commission thereof, making it an actuality.

A man who kills another man.

Assuming he did this without a valid reason then he is an evil man - but how long is he evil for? What if he becomes the CEO of one of the biggest companies and vows to himself never to do such evil again? Is he still evil - or was he once evil?

The taking of another person's life is and has often been considered one of the most heinous crimes against humanity possible inasmuch as it is antithetical to all that is "life" itself...that the "statute of limitations" (which is what I'm presuming your time reference is meant for) has expired for whatever given offense (in this instance, "murder") is often a conundrum faced by many victims of such offenses, posing a frustrating situation in which one is trapped by something of a paradoxical problem as our societies regulations conflict with our own sense of propriety/justice/morality/ethics.

To this end, a "life for a life" is the most prescribed method of punishment though, as with all things, it is necessary to take into consideration the circumstances surrounding any given situation in which such an act is committed as it is all relevant to the eventual, inevitable, outcome.

A man who sexually abused his kids but stopped one year ago.

Evil but again same problem as above.

A man who sexually abused his kid but stopped since yesterday.

Lets make this more interesting by saying that in this case he apoligised to his kids and reported himself to police authorities vowing to change and become a better man. Is he still evil?

To this reviewer sexual molestation of children, be it pedophilia, incest, or especially a combination of the two, is the most heinous of all offenses that any person can commit against mankind as an individual or a whole, i.e., there is nothing more base, more un-mistakenly evil, more utterly despicable that a person, a parent, can do than to take advantage of the innocence of their own child by abusing the trust, love, obedience and worship that the child holds for it's parent.

To me, these people deserve a long, excruciatingly painful and drawn out death consisting of the most torturous and degrading punishments that the psyche/physical being can handle before being rendered unconscious, only to start again once consciousness has been regained by the perpetrator and to continue until their eventual, inevitable demise...I'll stop here before I resort to inflammatory language, enraged as this subject makes me.

Perhaps someone is evil if justice has not come his way. So a murder is evil, unless dead, in which case he is no longer anything.
Agreed.
A man who sexually abused his kids is evil until he changes(how this is judged I dont know).
Are the children not "changed" themselves because of the abuse? Will they not suffer the ramifications of their parent's insidious behavior, of their betrayal?

Is it your contention that the trauma of the abuse somehow magically goes away merely because the abuser has had a change of heart? If so then you, sir, are as unscrupulous as the perpetrator. If you came here seeking vindication or retribution as some means of pacifying your own guilt or the guilt of another, you've come to the wrong place.

***I emphatically express my apologies to all of the members here if any of my commentary is considered offensive or repugnant and further state that my opinions do not, either vaguely or implicitly, express/represent the sentiments of this forum or it's members as they are solely my own, particularly as they pertain to the incest/molestation of children, and I solely take responsibility for them should such action become necessary***

Edited by -archimedes-
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Criminal activity is not the only gauge of a man's honesty. There are liars who are not criminals. I'm not sure why you are so focused on the "time" thing. "Time" may or may not be one factor when considering a person's change in behavior and subsequent trustworthiness.
I believe that the purpose of the reference has something to do with the "statutory limits" instituted by our criminal justice system in which an individual has to seek remediation for an offense committed against them, their family or other.
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Sorry to reopen a dead topic, but this intrigued me.

There is obviously a distinction between good deeds and evil deeds. It seems the question is how many more evil deeds than good deeds does one need to commit before one is considered to be an "evil man".

I submit that once a person has committed one evil deed he is indeed evil. Likewise if he commits one good deed he is good. It seems that all people (assuming that all people have committed at least one good and one evil deed in their life) are both good and evil.

Degrees of evil seem to depend purely on perspective. Let's look at the man who stole the candy bar. To me, his act was malicious, morally wrong, and willful, but didn't directly (or for the most part indirectly) effect me, thus he is not so evil to me. To the store owner however he is more evil because the same act did directly effect him by causing him to lose some profit.

Finally it seems that everything is a matter of perspective. For the sake of argument let's replace the candy bar with a loaf of bread. Let us then stipulate that the man is stealing this bread to feed his family. To his family this act is good, to the shopkeeper the act is evil. How then should a third party view this act? I submit that the act was in fact neutral to all not involved. The question then becomes at what point is a person detached from another person's acts? This question is where I end because I have no desire what so ever to delve into chaos theory or the butterfly effect.

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Let us then stipulate that the man is stealing this bread to feed his family.

In what kind of society would this happen(context)? This reminds me more of Nazi Ghetto's. Certainly not an everyday event. I remember reading these altruists challenges to self-interest through life or death situations which almost never happen in real life, e.g. Your on a boat and you have to kill one person or die yourself. There is no morality in this situation.

From what I've understood up till now evil is a person with evil ideas which are expressed the only way they can be, through action. A man could do something evil, e.g. steal and then realize what he is done is wrong and why on the most basic philosophical level. What he did was evil but now he is no longer evil, but obviously this wouldn't be a claim to avoid punishment.

Edited by airborne
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I believe that the purpose of the reference has something to do with the "statutory limits" instituted by our criminal justice system in which an individual has to seek remediation for an offense committed against them, their family or other.

That is a separate issue from whether or not the person can be trusted, and I don't think it has much to do with what the OP was asking. Being in the criminal justice biz, I'm aware of the concept of statutory limits as they pertain to civil suits and criminal prosecutions. I'd like to hear from him his consideration how the factor of time necessarily relates to a person's trustworthiness.

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