Harvard Medical School
A lecture by Prof. Candace Vogler (The University of Chicago)
In this talk, I will think about bad things, and the ways in which we can apprehend and consider what is bad—both the kind of badness at issue in so-called “natural evils” like illness, injury, and some forms of suffering, and so-called “moral evils”—like injustice (with the understanding that moral evil can sometimes show itself in manmade natural evil). It can seem like both sorts of bad function completely independently of the goods that they block, impede, prevent, or otherwise sabotage. It can seem that way even if we don’t have unproblematic access to an account of what overall good might look like in the relevant area of human experience, life, or action. I will take seriously the difficulty of giving an account of all-around goodness in specific areas of life, experience, and action, and argue that, nevertheless, any understanding of badness is parasitic on a grasp—however inchoate or indeterminate—of good.