"Sure, the institutions of society will punish anti-social actions. But shouldn't our attitude be one of compassion for those 'driven' to what was once known as 'sin'"
In this era dominated by the research findings of neuroscientists, the charged term "evil" seems only appropriate for Halloween films and the orations of a religious figure like Pope Francis. When the latter leveraged "evil" to refer to the Mafia, however, even some of us rolled our eyes. Among former Catholics there might also have been some giggles about excommunications. Yeah, the Mafia is shaking in its boots. Here is that coverage.
Has Pope Francis made a bad rhetorical move? Time will tell. Most leaders already know better than to introduce anachronistic concepts and old-line language into their public speaking. Audiences would go bug-eyed if Jeff Bezos or Jamie Dimon started to allude to what was evil.
Meanwhile, the June 2014 issue of Scientific American has an article questioning the concept of free will and how that influences society's institutions. The subtitle is "What happens to a society that believes people have no conscious control over their actions?" Lots of data from neuroscience are presented. Here is that analysis.
The message has to be sent by systems, ranging from law to community, that specific behavior is not allowed. The perceived miscreant will be subject to what is known as "punishment." For instance, convicted insider trader and once head of McKinsey Rajat Gupta was sentenced to serve two years in prison. His actions gave unfair advantage to some investors. Capitalism doesn't allow that.
However, on the level of humane values, we should feel and show compassion toward those who, because of their neural wiring and past experiences, were led outside the bounds of what society permits.
Speakers who want to make it to TED would likely refrain from going anywhere near terms like "evil." That is, unless they are practiced in balancing material from religious contexts with that from the age of neuroscience.