Understanding Evil

Prisoners at the Ebensee Concentration Camp

Understanding evil has long posed a significant problem for moral philosophers, especially since the end of World War II. Even today, philosophers disagree about what constitutes evil and the potential consequences of labeling a person or action as evil. In this essay, I draw on the work of Hannah Arendt to describe evil actions. I then discuss my struggle toward … Read more

Media Coverage of Mass Shootings

Media Coverage of Mass Shootings

As I write these words, one week has passed since the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California. As usual, it seems like the right and wrong time to write an article about gun violence in America. Right in the sense that these attacks continue to happen far more often than they should. Wrong in that I don’t want my words … Read more

Understanding Violence

Understanding Violence

In my previous article on violence, I defined violence as actively and intentionally causing physical harm to a sentient being. But understanding violence and even having a workable definition of violent behavior raise further questions. To start, this knowledge does not tell us where violence comes from. And it doesn’t direct us on how to use our new awareness to affect … Read more

A Definition of Violence and the Problem of Suicide

A definition of violence and the problem of suicide

In my previous article on violence, I argued for the importance of thinking critically about the definition of violence. If we want to reduce violence in human society, we need to be able to measure instances of violence. To do that, we need a clear definition of this term. One way to go about this project is to decide whether … Read more

Defining Violence

Defining Violence

For the past year and a half, I have been researching and writing a novel that, in very broad terms, addresses problems of evil and violence. The story centers around a particular violent and evil* incident: a mass shooting. It aims to address not only the actual shooting, but the psychologies and motivations surrounding the attack. Thus, defining violence and … Read more

A History of Violence

An ancient cave painting of humans and animal violence

In preparation for my novel Parabellum, I spent a lot of time researching why some humans act violently against other humans. But violence between humans is nothing new. In a study published last year in Nature, José María Gómez, Miguel Verdú, Adela González-Megías and Marcos Méndez discovered that intraspecies lethal violence has existed in humans and many other mammals from the … Read more

The Integrity Manifesto

The Integrity Manifesto

In the few years that I’ve been writing seriously and consistently, I’ve authored a screenplay about a disillusioned and manipulative murderer, a dystopian fiction novel about what happens when humans no longer need to think to sustain their existence, a blog about how physical fitness carries over into other spheres of life, and a choose-your-own-adventure novel about the philosophical problem … Read more

Three Misconceptions About the Columbine Attack

Quote from Columbine survivor Patrick Ireland

I was thirteen years old and in junior high school at the time of the 1999 shooting incident at Columbine High School, so the event remains a memorable one for me (as I’m sure it does for several others). At the time, rushed media coverage and personal gossip propagated several rumors about the shooters and their motives. Many of those rumors later … Read more

Stages of Violence

Stages of violence, the steps by which ordinary humans turn violent

In his book Masters of Death, author Richard Rhodes draws on the research of criminologist Lonnie Athens in an attempt to explain how German soldiers could be humanly capable of executing thousands of innocent Jewish civilians at gunpoint. Through interviews with violent criminals, Athens ascertained a minimum sequence of violent socialization. These stages of violence were not present in those who … Read more

The 21st-Century Road to Immortality

The 21st-century road to immortality

In her book New Demons, philosopher Simona Forti traces the genealogy of philosophical evil, beginning with what she calls the “Dostoevsky paradigm.” According to her reading of the great Russian novelist, individual evil stems from the will to achieve God-like omnipotence. Yet humans are incapable of creating objects out of nothing. Thus, the only path by which to approach God’s power … Read more