Understanding Evil

Karen Scotti, Dorina Egressy & Amanda Posse

Student thesis: Basic Project


This academic paper researches the interpretation of evil in contemporary times, with focus on the issues and implications of evil that are relevant to answer the problem formulation: how can we meaningfully understand evil? Through an analysis of Luke Russell’s and Lars Svendsen’s theories on evil, including an examination of the empirical data in form of six interviews, this paper investigates different perceptions of what can be defined as evil. Concerning the empirical data, six people with different backgrounds living in Denmark have been interviewed, and a qualitative approach has been employed. This has been done in conjunction with a partially constructivist position in order to see how their interpretation of evil is constructed to some extent. Furthermore, using a responsive interviewing style combined with a semi-structured approach has enabled us to focus on the individual's experience and their perspective on the concept of evil. Moreover, this project will be anchored entirely in the dimension of Science and Philosophy. In this paper it is concluded that there is no overall definition of the term evil. However, by conducting a conceptual analysis of the term we can come closer to a comprehensive clarification of what we are supposed to interpret as evil. In the process of finding a solution to the aforementioned method, we have come to find that there is a strong connection between the terms evil and pain. Therefore, we estimate that an action can be considered evil when causing unwanted and unnecessary pain. Based on this, we have reckoned that empathy is an essential element when considering how to prevent evil from happening.

EducationsBasic - International Bachelor Study Programme in Humanities, (Bachelor Programme) Basic
Publication date19 Dec 2017
Number of pages35
SupervisorsErik Bendtsen


  • philosophy
  • evil
  • Russell
  • Svendsen