The Matter of Evil

The Matter of Evil
A provocative and entirely new account of ethical reasoning that reconceives the traditional understanding of ethical action negatively

In this radical reconsideration of ethical reasoning in contemporary European philosophy, Drew M. Dalton makes the case for an absolutely grounded account of ethical normativity developed from a scientifically informed and purely materialistic metaphysics. Expanding on speculative realist arguments, Dalton argues that the limits placed on the nature of ethical judgments by Kant's critique can be overcome through a moral evaluation of the laws of nature--specifically, the entropic principle that undergirds the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology. In order to extract a moral meaning from this simple material fact, Dalton scrutinizes the presumptions of classical accounts and traditional understandings of good and evil within the history of Western philosophy and ultimately asserts that ethical normativity can be reestablished absolutely without reverting to dogmatism.

By overturning our assumptions about the nature and value of reality, The Matter of Evil: From Speculative Realism to Ethical Pessimism presents a provocative new model of ethical responsibility that is both logically justifiable and scientifically sound. Dalton argues for "ethical pessimism," a position previously marginalized in the West, as a means to cultivate an account of ethical responsibility and political activism that takes seriously the unbecoming of being and the moral horror of existence.

Publication Date: 
October 15, 2023