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Reviewed by:
  • The Order of Evils: Toward an Ontology of Morals
  • Barry Allen (bio)
Adi Ophir, The Order of Evils: Toward an Ontology of Morals, trans. Rela MazaliHavi Carel (New York: Zone Books, 2005), 699 pp.

In Ophir’s account, evil is not an absence, nor a diabolic supernatural intervention. It is instead a regular part of the world. We produce evil somewhat as we produce smog, as a by-product of our economy. Reversing business as usual in moral theory, Ophir recognizes evil as a more important moral category than the good. It is more important, morally, to prevent or limit superfluous evils — preventable suffering or loss — than to worry about the right and the good. Justice, fairness, equality, and autonomy are displaced from the center of moral thought and practice, replaced by compassion, solidarity, gift, and sacrifice. This is a deep and deeply moving book, a masterpiece of philosophy, undoubtedly the best work ever written about evil. [End Page 505]

Barry Allen

Barry Allen teaches philosophy at McMaster University and is associate editor of Common Knowledge for philosophy and politics. His publications include Truth in Philosophy, Knowledge and Civilization, and Artifice and Design: Art and Technology in Human Experience.



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