Nor would this be the only disadvantage arising from a sameness of instruction. It must be remembered, that differently constituted as are the minds of men, each possessing its peculiar perfections and defects, the same mode of culture cannot with any propriety be pursued in all cases. Every character requires a course of treatment somewhat modified to suit its particular circumstances, and no such modifications are ever likely to be made under a national system. It is to be hoped that the time will come, when the wisdom of the teacher will be shown, in adapting his instructions, to the peculiarities of each of his pupils: when it will be his aim to correct this feeling, and to develop the other faculty, and so to train and prune the mind of every scholar, as to send him forth into the world, as perfect a being as possible. Under our present natural arrangement we may one day expect to see this. While the master is amenable to public opinion—while his interests require that he should adopt the most efficient modes of education, we may presume that he will be always zealously endeavouring to improve his methods—ever investigating the principles of his profession, and daily applying the results of those investigations to practice. But no one would ever expect the salaried state-teacher, answerable only to some superior officer, and having no public reputation at stake to stimulate him—no one would expect that he should study the character of each of his scholars, and vary his ordinary routine to suit each case; no one would expect that he should be continually improving, and ever endeavouring to perfect his moral machinery. We may rest assured, that in education as in everything else, the principle of honourable competition, is the only one that can give present satisfaction, or hold out promise of future perfection.
If, then, it be admitted, that infinite variety in the mental conformation of individuals is essential to the advancement of the general human mind, what shall we say to a system which would train the feelings and intellects of a whole nation after one pattern—which hopes to correct all the irregularities implanted by the Creator, and proposes to take the plastic characters of our youth, and press them, as nearly as possible, into one common mould? And yet this must be the manifest tendency of any uniform routine of education. Natures differently constituted must be gradually brought, by its action, into a condition of similarity. The same influences, working upon successive generations, would presently produce an approximation to a national model. All men would begin to think in the same direction—to form similar opinions upon every subject. One universal bias would affect the mind of society; and, instead of a continual approach to the truth, there would be a gradual divergence from it. Under our present condition, the eccentricities and prejudices induced by one course of education, are neutralised by the opposing tendencies implanted by others; and the growth of the great and truthful features only of the national mind ensues. If, on the other hand, an established system were adopted, however judicious its arrangements might be—notwithstanding it might endeavour to promote liberality and independence of thought, it must eventually produce a general one-sidedness and similarity of character; and inasmuch as it did this, it would dry up the grand source of that spirit of agitation and inquiry, so essential as a stimulus to the improvement of the moral and intellectual man. It matters not what provisions might be made to guard against this evil—what varieties in the mode of instruction might be instituted; such is the general longing after uniformity, and such would be the ignorance of its evils, that we may rest assured no national system would long continue without merging into it.
While Russell clearly favours a dispositional account of evilcharacter, he does not say that his dispositional account identifiesnecessary and sufficient conditions for evil personhood. Instead, hesuggests that certain sorts of feelings might also be sufficient forbeing an evil person (Russell 2010, 249).
All I say is, look at the history of mankind right up to this moment and what do you find?” Essentially, Soyinka is saying that it is mankind’s inevitable fate to repeat its past due to the endless existence of evil.
In light of this and other problems for frequent evildoer accounts,Luke Russell (2010) has developed a dispositional account of evilcharacter that is similar in many respects to frequent evildoeraccounts, but which can make sense of the fact that some evil people donot do evil. According to Russell, an evil person is someone who isstrongly and fixedly disposed to perform evil actions when in autonomyfavouring conditions. Someone is strongly disposed to do evil if she isvery likely to do evil. Someone is fixedly disposed to do evil if thisdisposition is unlikely to change over time. Someone is in autonomyfavouring conditions when she is not deceived, threatened, coerced, orpressed to act in one way rather than another (Russell 2010).
The second argument for the claim that we should not hold peoplemorally responsible for crimes that result from bad upbringings beginswith the supposition that we are morally responsible for our crimesonly if we are appropriate objects of reactive attitudes, such asresentment (Strawson 1963). According to this argument, perpetrators ofcrimes who have had particularly bad upbringings are not appropriateobjects of reactive attitudes since there is no point to expressingthese attitudes toward these perpetrators. A proponent of this argumentmust then explain why there is no point to expressing reactiveattitudes toward these perpetrators. In his paper “Responsibilityand the Limits of Evil: Variations on a Strawsonian Theme” (1987)Gary Watson considers various ways to make sense of the claim thatthere is no point to expressing reactive attitudes toward people whocommit crimes due to bad upbringings. Watson's discussion centreson the case of Robert Alton Harris. As a child, Harris was anaffectionate good-hearted boy. Family members say that an abusivemother and harsh treatment at corrections facilities turned him into amalicious cold-blooded murderer.
A poor law, however, is not only inexpedient in practice, but it is defective in principle. The chief arguments that are urged against an established religion, may be used with equal force against an established charity. The dissenter submits, that no party has a right to compel him to contribute to the support of doctrines, which do not meet his approbation. The rate-payer may as reasonably argue, that no one is justified in forcing him to subscribe towards the maintenance of persons, whom he does not consider deserving of relief. The advocate of religious freedom, does not acknowledge the right of any council, or bishop, to choose for him what he shall believe, or what he shall reject. So the opponent of a poor law, does not acknowledge the right of any government, or commissioner, to choose for him who are worthy of his charity, and who are not. The dissenter from an established church, maintains that religion will always be more general, and more sincere, when the support of its ministry is not compulsory. The dissenter from a poor law, maintains that charity will always be more extensive, and more beneficial, when it is voluntary. The dissenter from an established church can demonstrate that the intended benefit of a state religion, will always be frustrated by the corruption which the system invariably produces. So the dissenter from a poor law, can show that the proposed advantages of state charity, will always be neutralized by the evils of pauperism, which necessarily follow in its train. The dissenter from an established church, objects that no man has a right to step in between him and his religion. So the dissenter from established charity, objects that no man has a right to step in between him and the of his religion.
It is surprising that writers who have of late been animadverting upon the national collection scheme, and who have pointed out the mockery of recommending charity, in answer to a call for justice, should not perceive that the case is but a type of the poor law. Both are attempts to mitigate an evil, not to remove it; both are means of quieting the complaints of the nation, and both will tend to retard the attainment of those rights which the people demand. in an article upon the national petition, made an observation to the effect, that the contents of the document were not worthy of notice, but that the fact of its presentation, clearly proved the necessity for a "more generous poor law," to satisfy the complainants. Here is a clear exposition of the policy: we must stop the mouths of the people by charity: we need not enter into the question of their rights, but we must give them more parish pay!
However, since Aristotle, theorists have recognized that ignorance isonly a legitimate excuse for causing unjustified harm when we are notresponsible for our ignorance, i.e., when the ignorance is non-culpable(Nichomachean Ethics, Bk III). One sort of culpableignorance which has received a fair bit of attention from philosopherswriting about evil is ignorance that results from self-deception. Inself-deception we evade acknowledging to ourselves some truth or whatwe would see as the truth if our beliefs were based on an unbiasedassessment of available evidence. “Self-deceivers are initiallyaware of moments when they shift their attention away from availableevidence to something else, although they may not be aware of theoverall project of their self-deception.” (Jones 1999, 82). Sometactics used by self-deceivers to evade acknowledging some truth,including (1) avoiding thinking about the truth, (2) distractingthemselves with rationalizations that are contrary to the truth, (3)systematically failing to make inquiries that would lead to evidenceof the truth and (4) ignoring available evidence of the truth ordistracting their attention from this evidence (Jones 1999, 82).Several theorists writing about evil have suggested that perpetratorsof the Holocaust such as Adolf Hitler and Adolf Eichmann wereself-deceptive evildoers. (Calder 2003 and 2004; Jones 1999; See also,Martin 1986).
But even admitting that a poor law ameliorates the condition of the labouring classes in times of national distress; still it does not follow that it is either a wise, or, ultimately, a benevolent law. So long as the earth continues to produce, and mankind are willing to labour, an extensive distress must indicate something unnatural in the social arrangements. Such is the present condition of England. Europe and America produce more food than they can consume—our artisans are anxious to work, and yet they are bordering upon starvation, consequently there must be something radically wrong, in our political institutions. Is it better to palliate, or to cure the evil? Is it better to mitigate the distress by the distribution of public charity, or to allow it so to manifest itself, as to demand the discovery and removal of its cause? Which do we consider the kindest physician, the one who alleviates the pain of a disease by continually administering anodynes, or the one who allows his patient to experience a little suffering in the exhibition of the symptoms, that he may discover the seat of the malady, and then provide a speedy remedy? The alternative requires no consideration.