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Peter Brian Barry
Saginaw Valley State University
  1. Evil Actions, Evildoers, and Evil People.Peter Brian Barry - manuscript
    Typically, philosophers interested in evil have typically been concerned with reconciling (or not) the apparent existence of gratuitous suffering with the existence of an omnipotent and omniscient and supremely loving and caring Deity. Undeniably, ‘evil’ functions as a mass noun: note the intelligibility of asking “Why is there so much evil in the world?” But ‘evil’ sometimes functions as an adjective and is used variously to describe persons, actions, desires, motives, and intentions; Joel Feinberg even speaks of “evil smells.” In (...)
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  2. Same-Sex Marriage and the Charge of Illiberality.Peter Brian Barry - 2011 - Social Theory and Practice 37 (2):333-357.
    However liberalism is best understood, liberals typically seek to defend a wide range of liberty. Since same-sex marriage [henceforth: SSM] prohibitions limit the liberty of citizens, there is at least some reason to suppose that they are inconsistent with liberal commitments. But some have argued that it is the recognition of SSM—not its prohibition—that conflicts with liberalism’s commitments. I refer to the thesis that recognition of SSM is illiberal as “The Charge.” As a sympathetic liberal, I take The Charge seriously (...)
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  3. Wickedness Redux.Peter Brian Barry - 2011 - Philo 14 (2):137-160.
    Some philosophers have argued that the concepts of evil and wickedness cannot be well grasped by those inclined to a naturalist bent, perhaps because evil is so intimately tied to religious discourse or because it is ultimately not possible to understand evil, period. By contrast, I argue that evil—or, at least, what it is to be an evil person—can be understood by naturalist philosophers, and I articulate an independently plausible account of evil character.
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  4. Moral Saints, Moral Monsters, and the Mirror Thesis.Peter Brian Barry - 2009 - American Philosophical Quarterly 46 (2):163 - 176.
    A number of philosophers have been impressed with the thought that moral saints and moral monsters—or, evil people, to put it less sensationally—“mirror” one another, in a sense to be explained. Call this the mirror thesis. The project of this paper is to cash out the metaphorical suggestion that moral saints and evil persons mirror one other and to articulate the most plausible literal version of the mirror thesis. To anticipate, the most plausible version of the mirror thesis implies that (...)
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  5. Extremity of Vice and the Character of Evil.Peter Brian Barry - 2010 - Journal of Philosophical Research 35:25-42.
    It is plausible that being an evil person is a matter of having a particularly morally depraved character. I argue that suffering from extreme moral vices—and not consistently lacking moral vices, for example—suffices for being evil. Alternatively, I defend an extremity account concerning evil personhood against consistency accounts of evil personhood. After clarifying what it is for vices to be extreme, I note that the extremity thesis I defend allows that a person could suffer from both extremely vicious character traits (...)
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  6. The Liberal Case Against Same-Sex Marriage Prohibitions.Peter Brian Barry - manuscript
    Experience clearly suggests that most legal philosophers and ethicists are not surprised to be told that liberal states cannot permissibly prohibit same-sex marriage (henceforth: SSM). It is somewhat less clear just what the appropriate liberal strategy is and should be in defense of this thesis. Rather than try to defend SSM directly, I shall proceed indirectly by arguing that SSM prohibitions are indefensible on liberal grounds. Initially, I shall consider what I take to be the most powerful liberal argument against (...)
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  7. Intentional Action, Causation, and Deviance.Peter Brian Barry - manuscript
    It is reasonably well accepted that the explanation of intentional action is teleological explanation. Very roughly, an explanation of some event, E, is teleological only if it explains E by citing some goal or purpose or reason that produced E. Alternatively, teleological explanations of intentional action explain “by citing the state of affairs toward which the behavior was directed” thereby answering questions like “To what end was the agent’s behavior directed?” Causalism—advocated by causalists—is the thesis that explanations of intentional action (...)
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  8. Two Dogmas of Moral Psychology.Peter Brian Barry - manuscript
    I contend that there are two dogmas that are still popular among philosophers of action: that agents can only desire what they think is good and that they can only intentionally pursue what they think is good. I also argue that both dogmas are false. Broadly, I argue that our best theories of action can explain the possibility of intentionally pursuing what one thinks is not at all good, that we need to allow for the possibility of intentionally pursuing what (...)
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