Discuss The PsycDiscussion On The Contribution Of Positivism Philosophy Essayhology Behind Evil Philosophy Essay

Evil is seen as the opposite of good. According to Myer (2010), “Evil acts occurred partly because thousands of people followed orders”. This can be reflected in the case of Nazi Germany where 6 million of Jews along with gypsies, homosexuals, trades unionists and the disabled being slaughtered. This world worst mass evil case

The universe, everything will change this world everything goes. Society, as a large system, in science and technology become increasingly developed, the rapid improvement of people’s living standard, they also forced us to face one another social problem: The first is the living space needed for the growing and the existing living space very small contradictions, raising concerns about the future of the Concerned; and the real social problems which also plague the people day after day, prompting people to reflect on these issues. Positivism is a product of social change is that people are a reflection of social issues, and its produce to the community has made great contributions to the ensuing also include the limitations of positivism. This essay will talk about the meaning and development of positivism, and then it will show the contribution of positivism and its limitation. The essay also focuses every positivist who makes a significant contribution for positivism.

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When people want to know the contribution of positivism in society, then they hope to discuss critical of positivism. Firstly they should know what is positivism? What is it time to start, what are the reasons of origin, and other development? (J H Bridges, Robert Speller and Sons 1957) Positivism is a kind of sensory experience stress, rejection of Western metaphysics, the philosophical schools. Empirical positivism was as a form of expression, resulting in the 19th century, 30 to 40 years in France and Britain. Before that, I. Newton, D. Hume’s empiricism has been involved in empirical question, and the early 19th century French utopian socialists H. Saint-Simon first use “positivism”. However, strictly speaking, the founder of positivism is the French philosopher, sociologist A. Comte. From 1830 onwards, Comte successively its six volumes of this “evidence-based philosophy tutorial,” marked the formation of positivism. In accordance with the views of Comte, positivism, broadly speaking, (Comte 1844) philosophical and political system by the composition, the former is the foundation, and next one is a huge system of purpose; narrow to say that Comte founded positivism that is empirical philosophy. Comte that the history of mankind from superstition or metaphysics of science process. When the communities of scientists manage the society, people entered the reality phase.

After Comte’s positivism, Durkheim righted to be amended and created his own new theory of social fact. What is social fact? (Hadden, p. 104) Durkheim defined social facts as things is the fact that external coercion, which is to create a collective strength rather than from individuals. While they may not seem to be observable, social facts are things, and “are to be studied empirically, not philosophically” (Ritzer, p. 78).

Social Facts: When I perform brother, husband, or citizens, when I carry out my contract, my responsibility, so I define the responsibilities, external to myself and my behavior, in law and custom. Even if they meet my own emotions, I feel that their subjective reality, which is still objective, because I did not create them, I just through my education, inheritance them. (Durkheim Rules, p. 1).

As examples of social facts, Durkheim cites religious beliefs, currency used to undertake transactions, and factors such as “the practices followed in my profession” (Durkheim Rules, p. 2).

These types of behavior or thought are not only outside the individual, but, in addition, to give to force them to impose his own virtue, his personal will to the transfer. (Durkheim Rules, p. 2).

Subsequently, a number of philosophers and scientists of the Comte’s positivist philosophy be revised to exclude an epistemological doctrine, promoting a new philosophy of science, there has been Machism and logical positivism.( J. T. Blackmore, R. Itagaki, and S. Tanaka 2009) E. Mach believe that the real science is a fine phenomenology, that is the exact description of a person feels, including this one from where they found some of the rules. He was opposed to the introduction of atomic physics and chemistry, and to a positivist tone of voice, said: “You really see it?” To the 20th century, Positivism and B. Russell and AN Whitehead’s combination of basic mathematics and become the Vienna school of logical positivism lord. Therefore, the history of the positivism is divided into two types: the early positivism known as the old positivism, logical positivism, also known as neo-positivism. Since the days of self-Comte, positivism, who has been graded to be organized on various subjects? From the oldest and the most basic physics to social sciences, each science are assumed to be restored to a sub-1 level, so almost all science and all branches of physics.

Genially, (Comte 1844) positivist thought in general the pursuit of scientific facts can be observed, verifiable, and that the predictable future society must be good. Positivism on this attitude of society in the future there are similarities with the utopian socialism, positivism, the contribution of other obvious trend is that it track to track the development of science and scientific development process of the absorption of the factors conducive to philosophical reflection. In short, positivism is a major benefit from the development achievements of modern science and philosophy, but the birth of science to the philosophy of conversion factor is the overall development of modern Western society.

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The existence of things is a double-edged. Positivism defect is very clear: First, (Alfred Schutz, George Walsh, and Fredrick Lehnert 1967) it over-emphasized the phenomenon, namely, the importance of perceptual knowledge, ignoring rational thought in the history of contributions to human civilization. This caught in inductive way of thinking. Second, (M Weber 1978) it ignores the people’s awareness, particularly the limitations of perceptual knowledge, but to perceptual knowledge extended to the whole of human history. Means that as long as the positivism of cognition, in any era is all that can be perceived, but people know the reality not the case. Third, positivism not seems to realize that natural scientific approach congenitally deficient. Therefore, people can also make such a positivist criticism. Then positivism is not a panacea theory, is that many positivists themselves think so too, therefore, on some issues people can and must be positivism to the study, in some other issues; people will need to use some other ways to solve the problem, such as rationalism, not only positivism.

Then the famous positivist Comte’s positivism is a kind of sensory experience stress, exclusion metaphysical schools of Western philosophy, Comte use it to try to distinguish and thus to replace the traditional philosophy of idealism and materialism. Comte’s positivism is the idealism of Berkeley and Hume’s empiricism and Newton’s mechanistic philosophy of combination. It is in this experience, tradition, inspired by the positivist philosophy of Comte from which extends the theory out. Positivism, empiricism has inherited the basic viewpoints of the past, that the origin of all the issues on the world belong to metaphysics, but only what is the philosophy of phenomenology should be studied. (A Comte 1988)Comte advocated everything should be based on the point of view the phenomenon as a starting point, only those who really based on knowledge are scientific. Positivist philosophy of Comte first three stages of the development of the human mind of the inspection, the second is an empirical interpretation of the spirit. Comte’s sociology, said that he was mainly from the positivist point of view, put forward the idea of building a modern society. In addition, (A Comte 1979)Comte is divided into social statics and social dynamics the two blocks of sociology, Social Statics study of social system and social structure, this is not to consider the social system of basic movement, to study the various components of the system between the roles and counterproductive law. It corresponds to the order. Social dynamics, which research development and changes in the social system, the laws, the core was social progress. This distinction is not a distinction between two types of facts, but the distinction between two aspects of the theory order and progress, statics and dynamics, are always interrelated. However, (M J Smith 1998) Comte focus only on his own during this period of European cultural values, there is no more comprehensive look at the definition of positivism; his study has limitations and is in a particular environment, a study is not comprehensive.

(B Agger 2007) Durkheim’s contributions mainly have social facts, social aspects, and division of labour and sociological approaches. According to social facts and social aspects he has a strong social structure point of view, in every one of us is subject to these social facts, and how we must adapt to these means. Durkheim believed that the division of labor does not lead to social disintegration, but the change in the form of social solidarity provides a useful method of study of modern society. However, there are some problems with his opinion such as actions, consensus, solidarity and common Consciousness. Although there are common ethical in our society in many aspects, there is one in similar circumstances, a person acting in various ways there are also many opportunities. Durkheim may be aware of this possibility, but he did not seem to have anything to say about the nature of human motivation. He was too concerned about the larger structural problem. human action or human action is unlikely that the theory is limited. Weber’s action or models, such as symbolic interactionism the most recent here, some of the methods will prove more useful. While doing thinking of Durkheim on social unity and a source of useful contribution, which usually seems to be his only concern. Durkheim and structure of the functional approach with the difficulties of the latter is almost completely ignored the conflict and power differences.

(Laurence D. Smith 1988)Laurence D. Smith (Author) › Visit Amazon’s Laurence D. Smith PageAfter Durkheim, logical positivism empirical basis in logic as a tool for reasoning, using probability theory to correct conclusions. It is believed that the scientific study of human behavior is the only correct way. Logical positivism that: a question of fact that only recourse to observation alone. Let’s say the logical positivism of the “logical.” Logic is an important tool for logical positivism. One is the scientific methodology of inductive logic, and the second is to create a semantic study of its interpretation of the logic. (M.W. Wartofsky 1984) The scientific concept of logical positivism does exist significant deficiencies, in which one of the most fundamental flaws is the humanistic significance of science and humanistic values of neglect. In accordance with logical positivism of science and scientific interpretation of Marxism, “Science was seen as a kind of beyond the human or higher than the human nature becomes a self-existing entity, or be deemed to be a kind of detached from the on which it depends and development of the human condition, needs and interests of the mother’s ‘thing’ “

In conclusion, Positivism is a manifestation of social progress, it is a kind of social development and people’s thinking, and positivism is a philosophical genre, which is the empiricism of the evolution. It is an important component of Western philosophy, but there are also right to criticize the views of positivism, Western scholars have also put forward their own views, New Kantianism, Functionalism, Structuralism, Exchange theory Symbolic Interactionism Behaviorism and Post-modernism, etc., on the evidence ism expressed doubts and make their own good reasons. So people need to be more substantial look at these theories to better use than them.


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Holocaust of World War II has casted a shadow over society. What has triggered the mass murderer? Are good people turning bad during that time? Are people having evil behavior? Is evil exists in individual and humanity? The book by Philip Zimbardo, “The Lucifer Effect” describes the point in time when an ordinary, normal person first crosses the boundary between good and evil to engage in an evil action. It’s a representative of transformation of human character. Such transformations are situational act, social influence, personal attributes of morality, compassion or sense of justice or fair play? Evil is the exercise of power to intentionally harm, hurt or destroy in psychological, physically or mortality way to others (Zimbardo, 2007). It could also commit crimes against humanity. Philip Zimbardo (2007) also provided a comprehensive definition of evil in his book “The Lucifer Effect that “Evil consists in intentionally behaving in ways that harm, abuse, demean, dehumanize, or destroy innocent others – or using one’s authority and systemic power to encourage or permit others to do so on your behalf. In short, it is “knowing better but doing worse'”.

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Most people perceive evil as an entity, a quality that is inherent in some people and not in others. Bad seeds ultimately produce bad fruits. Some thought evil is caused by an external force. In the book of “People of the Lie”, Scott Peck raises the possibility that evil sometimes is cause by evil powers such as demon. He reflects a historical notion that spiritual powers cause evil, whether directly in the form of possession or indirectly in the form of spiritual oppression. Personally, I don’t think dark spiritual forces cause much evil as it’s not scientific proven that devil exist.

Many studies focused on the situational factors than other factors that create evil act. Is evil caused by disposition or situation? Does this relate to those serial killer murders such as Jeffrey Dahmer, did he do it intentionally? All of this will be covered in details in the subsequent sections.

Obedient experiments

Muzafer Sherif study of young boys competing in the competition at the summer camp has tuned hostile followed by bitter confliction. The result showed that it was group processes rather than personality that had produced the conflict.

Stanley Milgram carried out experiment on obedience to authority in 1971. The result of the study concluded nearly two-thirds of the volunteers followed orders and delivered the maximum shock despite of the screaming from the learner. According to Miller (2011), “The result is a chilling demonstration of the power of a situation to corrupt ordinary people, and it lent support to Milgram’s fear that the Holocaust could happen again.” Reverend Jim Jones, Pastor commanded his followers to commit mass suicide in 1978 where 912 Americans committed suicide or were murdered by family and friends in Guyana because of their blind obedience. Why do people obey to this suicide event? Could it due to social influence that shape individual’s behavior? Will culture help to define the situation? University of Texas carried out the observation to the students and found that about 30 percent of their time was spent in conversation with others (Myers, 2010). This has shown that relationships carried a large part in human being. The power of social situation may lead us to act conflicting to our expressed attitude and powerful evil situation does have the tendency to overwhelm good intentions and convincing people to agree with untruth or comply to cruelty act.

Group norms and conformity

Muzafer Sherif conducted a classic study on conformity in 1936. From the result of the study, the subjects had conformed to the group judgment and say the light was moving about 4 inches. The subjects had been changed by group experience and they had increased their conformity to group norms. Sherif’s experiment showed group norms are established through interaction of individuals and the leveling-off extreme opinions. The result is a consensus agreement that tends to be a compromise even if it is wrong. Based on this finding, people may turn bad due to social influence. In Milgram’s studies, people were less likely to administer high levels of shock if they had the support of another person who resisted the experiment. Same goes to Zimbardo’s study, when the prisoners were isolated, they were typically ineffective but when they worked together as a group, their resistance was much more successful.

Asch conformity experiments

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) prison study explores the social and psychological consequences of putting people in groups of unequal power and it examines when people accept inequality and when they challenge it. The result was different from Zimbardo’s study as those volunteers were live in a different generation, culture and background. There is no clear cut instruction to the guard, in authority issue and the relationship with authority is not clear cut either. In Zimbardo’s study, it was an exercise of leadership where the guards were instructed how to behave. There was one particular aggressive guard in SPE but in the BBC study, prisoner seems to emerge to the leadership role. The findings from the study were the relationship between group identification, group organization and group power (Haslam & Reicher, 2007). This has suggested that it is powerlessness and the failure of groups that makes tyranny psychologically acceptable.

Situation and Disposition

Zimbardo (2004) captured the difference between situational and dispositional orientation as “While a few bad apples might spoil the barrel (filled with good fruits/people), a vinegar barrel will always transform sweet cucumbers into sour pickles – regardless of the best intentions, resilience, and genetic nature of those cucumbers.” He had listed three situational factors. First, a simple situational factor can impact behavior where the influence force could be group identity, social modeling, time pressure and etc. Second, the situational approach redefines heroism where the minority who resist pressure towards compliance and conformity should be considered heroic. Third, the situational approach should encourage us to share personal humbleness when trying to understand the unthinkable, unimaginable acts of evil.

In the case of Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE), the participants are referred as ordinary students via the newspaper recruit. From the study, the power of situation has shaped individual’s behavior. What was the volunteer’s personality who took part in the prison study? It is possible for people who volunteered in the prison study may show particular characteristics when they are put in a particular situations, dispose them to engage in abusive, abhorrent or other cruelty behaviors towards people. People who don’t volunteer might not behave in the same way if put in the same situation. If this is correct, it has implications in the situationist arguments where in the right or wrong situation, anyone could become bad. Carnahan and McFarland couldn’t test the theory using the SPE data, they re-run the volunteering part of the study to see what type of people would volunteer in the two weeks of prison life. Below is the extract from their abstract:

“Volunteers for the prison study scored significantly higher on measures of the abuse-related dispositions of aggressiveness, authoritarianism, Machiavellianism, narcissism, and social dominance and lower on empathy and altruism, two qualities inversely related to aggressive abuse. Although implications for the SPE remain a matter of conjecture, an interpretation in terms of person-situation interactionism rather than a strict situationist account is indicated by these findings.” The study on hooliganism provided an explanation that violent group conduct have approached it from two perspectives: an individual differences approach like positive attitudes to violence explain violent behavior and a social identity approach which assumes individuals become violent in certain situations where they feel anonymous and therefore lack of accountability. Haslam & Reicher (2007) re-access the idea of ordinary people commit cruelty act and they show that perpetrators act thoughtfully, creatively and with conviction. With the BBC prison study, they had made the case for an interactionist approach to tyranny. From the study for SPE, people do not follow brutal leaders or enact brutal roles in groups unquestioningly and automatically. For those who has eventually succumb, the journey to the depths of depravity is conscious and demanding (Haslam & Reicher, 2007). This has triggered the importance of three social dynamics: First, who is drawn to tyrannical groups? Second, how are people transformed by group membership? Third, when do authoritarian views gain influence? From the three dynamics, whether a person embraces one position or group will depend upon its implications for their membership of the valued group. If people join the groups they like and understand about the groups are the insights of self-categorization theory. To be effective, tyrants need to have social influence.

Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance explains how people “rationalize” bad behavior (Crump, 2008). The theory predicts that people who commit acts that other people would unhesitatingly label as evil will come to view those acts as good, or at least as not so evil and they will do it because the attitudinal change made them more comfortable. Cognitive dissonance prevents people from admitting them. Zimbardo experiment has shown the power of dissonance phenomenon. Ordinary people, having no particular inclination toward evil, will engage in evil behavior if the alignment of their behavior and their self-perceptions induces them to. Cognitive dissonance works gradually persuading behavior can be found from the experiment conducted by Jonathan Freedman and Scott Frazer. The experiment was using foot in the door technique by getting people to display a three inches card of “Drive Carefully” before the large ugly sign.

Situation – social influence, compliance, identification, internalization.culture, gender

Conformity, obedienc, minority influence, self-fulfilling prophecy


Disposition – personality traits

Locating evil within particular people: the rush to the dispositional

The dynamic of inhumanity – five steps from evil to virtue

Using the psychology of evil to do good

Can the law prevent groups from making good people turn bad?

Numerous cases such as widespread official perjury by members of the Los Angeles Police Department led to investigations of nearly seventy officers and tainted hundreds of criminal convictions. Managers at Enron Corporation had committed pervasive acts of fraud that lost billions of dollars for shareholders, and the jailers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq on the abusing act. We may think shouldn’t all this cover by the act of law? According to Crump (2008), the answers are elusive. Ordinary people may engage in repeated and open crimes when influenced by groups.

Deindividuation / war / violence – warrior appearance (J.Watson 1971)

7 Social processes that grease the slippery slope of evil

Mindlessly taking the first small step

Dehumanization of others

De-individuation of self (anonymity)

Diffusion of personal responsibility

Blind obedience to authority

Uncritical conformity to group norms

Passive Tolerance of Evil Through Inaction, or indifference

In New or Unfamiliar Situation

“Nothing is easier than to denounce the evil doer; Nothing more difficult than understanding him”


Understanding is not excusing

Refocus away from Evil to understand Heroes

“Banality of Heroism: Ordinary people do extra-ordinary moral deeds in certain situations. Counterpoint to Hannah Arendt’s “Banality of Evil”

Traditional Societal Heroes – Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King are exceptions – theu organize their lives around sacrifice for a cause

Childrens’ Fantasy Heroes – Superman, Spider Man, Wonder Woman are not reality models for kids, they possess supernatural talents.

Most heroes are Everyday People, who emerge as heroes only in particular situations



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