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© 2019 Taylor & Francis. The term ‘evil’ was viewed with suspicion in philosophy and generally avoided for most of the twentieth century. In the early twenty-first century, it has been undergoing something of a revival. The philosophers who have contributed to this revival tend to downplay or ignore the religious connotations of the term ‘evil’. Here I argue for the importance of identifying a religious conception of evil and for the importance of distinguishing this from the secular conception of evil. I also provide a definition of religious evil action. In providing a definition of religious evil action, I draw on recent work in the cognitive science of religion which identifies key aspects of natural human religion that are universal. I also consider the relationship between the universal religious conception of evil I seek to locate and particular theological accounts of evil.

Original publication





Book title

Moral Evil in Practical Ethics

Publication Date



30 - 55