chapter  13
19 Pages

“Recalibrating Steiner on Evil”

I fi rst met Hillel Steiner in September 1997 when I began teaching political theory in the then Department of Government at the University of Manchester. His considerable reputation preceded him and I was rather apprehensive about meeting someone described to me as one of the best political philosophers in Britain. Fame and extraordinary talent in my experience can often be accompanied by a less than pleasant character or disposition. However, in this case my apprehension was entirely misplaced, since Hillel combines a prodigious intellect with an irenic and gentle manner which makes interaction with him a most interesting and enjoyable experience. My admiration for his abilities as a scholar grows with each passing year and I have benefi ted enormously from reading his work, being in reading groups with him, and especially from his careful questioning of my ofteninchoate ideas. Hillel’s uncanny ability to home in on the core issues at stake and quickly highlight just where an argument is at its weakest always leaves me a great deal clearer and wiser about a particular problem despite scrabbling for a way to salvage what I previously thought were unassailable arguments. I am continually surprised and delighted by the originality of his thinking, and even when I fi nd his conclusions vastly counter-intuitive (as I often do), I applaud his ability and uncompromising Humean desire to follow an argument wherever it goes. It has been an invaluable learning process to work closely with Hillel over the past decade; a master class on how to do political philosophy with someone who not only has been a mentor and teacher but also a friend. I feel deeply privileged to be able to contribute to this collection of essays in his honour.