Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

When to apply the lesser of two evils principle?

My question is: when can one apply this principle? Is it even possible to apply this principle on nations, like China vs USA, or China vs Russia? It seems that this principle prefers a micro rather than a macro view, like the 2016 choice between H. Clinton and Trump (eg. my 2016 blog, Politico).

Most likely, evil requires a simple, one-dimensional view. Example: anyone is the lesser of two evils compared to Putin. The bigger the object, the more dimensions come into view (ie, complexity). Hence, in some situations, Russia might be the lesser of two evils. It’s difficult finding an example.

The issue of when has a space and time dimension. Above is about geography. Time is different: when does evil start? I’m inclined to argue that evil is born rather than made. Essay: “Evil has been studied for thousands of years, and the root question is always, is evil born or made?”

My answer triggers the nature vs nurture debate. I do not believe in OR situations. Everything in life is AND/OR (ie, my blogs of 2015 and 2021). In my view, some people are more receptive to evil than most of us. Depending on the circumstances, (eg, childhood abuse), that trigger may switch from OFF to ON.

Also see this perspective in Evil is Not Born: “Was evil developed or were they born with it? The age-old question of nature vs. Nurture is brought up yet again. “Not all abused children become serial killers, and not all serial killers are victims of childhood abuse.” (N. Davies, 2018)”.

It’s tempting to paint Putin as an exception to a rule (eg, people are good). The Stanford prison experiment in 1971 suggested that many people are prone to evil, albeit in certain circumstances. In my view, subsequent incidents have proven that 1971 experiment (eg, Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse).

Obviously, our receptiveness to evil does not exonerate us from guilt. Each day, we make choices based upon our priorities. In general, evil is not part of our priorities in life, except for certain personality types, like Dexter. In general, most people tend to behave good (ie, deeds, words & intentions).

“For the lesser evil can be seen in comparison with the greater evil as a good, since this lesser evil is preferable to the greater one, and whatever preferable is good.”

A quote from Nicomachean Ethics (c.335-322 BCE) by Greek philosopher and polymath Aristotle (384-322 BCE)

EVIL (2023) by Melanie Martinez
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-album+song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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