Are people fundamentally good or bad in general?We are so often quick to label others as evil, but are they really? Or are we confusing evil behavior with evil identity?
I think we are.
Yes, there is evil behavior. But no one (sane) believes that he is committing an evil act. Even Hitler was trying to make the world a better place. Yes, he was twisted in his thinking. But inside his head, he thought he was doing good.
And that for me is a very important factor for someone to "be" evil. They must know that their act is evil TO THEM, and they must still do the act. Otherwise it's just a difference of opinion.
For example, pro-lifers believe that abortion is evil. They think doctors that perform the abortions are evil. But those doctors truly think that they are helping women in need. Likewise abortion advocates believe groups of people praying outside planned parenthood clinics are evil because they think these people want to suppress women's rights. But these pro-lifers are only trying to save babies.
See? It all comes down to perspective.
Most people have reasons for doing the things they do, even so-called evil people. But if an evil act is simply self-serving, is the person evil? No. He is simply doing what he believes is best for achieving his goals.
That's not evil, even if the act seems evil.
Everyone (sane) wants to do good. I believe the goal of goodness is inherent in every (sane) person. The way in which we define goodness changes.
The evil of an act is defined by the people who did NOT commit the act. But for someone to "be evil" they must define an act as evil and still do it. I don't mean that they think OTHER PEOPLE will call them evil. I mean THEY think the act is evil. I mean they think that they should not do it. I mean the act serves no purpose except to spread evil.
No one (sane) will do it.
That is why I think no one (sane) is evil. Sociopaths, psychopaths, and deranged people though...
In the words of Alfred Pennyworth "Some men just want to watch the world burn."
But they are insane, not evil.
One has to KNOW that one is doing evil and to possess the capability to avoid it to BE evil as opposed to just be DOING evil.
If someone lacks the free will* to choose good over evil, then how can you label them as BEING evil? Does a sociopath, psychopath, or deranged individual possess the necessary free will to rebuke evil? No. I don't think so. They are little better than robots acting out their programming*. That means that these people are insane, not evil.
There is a difference between DOING evil and BEING evil.
*[And by the way, this lack of free will is why I consider the effect on free will to be a way to measure the morality of an act. If your actions set someone else on a course towards doing evil acts... if your actions messed them up so bad that they lost their free will, then YOUR actions were immoral. That's how I define immorality.]