J.L. Mackie’s version of the logical problem of evil is a failure, as even he came to recognize. Contrary to current mythology, however, its failure was not established by Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense. That’s because a defense is successful only if it is not reasonable to refrain from believing any of the claims that constitute it, but it is reasonable to refrain from believing the central claim of Plantinga’s Free Will Defense, namely the claim that, possibly, every essence (...) suffers from transworld depravity. (shrink)
The case is discussed for the doctrine of hell as posing a unique problem of evil for adherents to the Abrahamic religions who endorse traditional theism. The problem is particularly acute for those who accept retributivist formulations of the doctrine of hell according to which hell is everlasting punishment for failing to satisfy some requirement. Alternatives to retributivism are discussed, including the unique difficulties that each one faces.
It has often been noted that evil – by which I mean evil in human motivation and action – is difficult to understand. We find it hard to make sense of what ‘drives’ a person to commit evil. This is not because we cannot recognise or identify with some aspect of the psychology of evil; we all experience feelings of envy, spite, cruelty, and hatred. But somehow this shared experience can seem insufficient, and we are left (...) at a loss as to how such natural, universal human motivations could have resulted in this. The aims of this paper are modest, to do no more than point in a particular direction our attempts to understand the psychology of evil. §2 is a synoptic overview of what I shall call the ‘traditional’ picture of the psychology of evil. In §3, I argue that this picture is explanatorily inadequate. §§4-6 develop the traditional picture by suggesting some resources drawn from psychoanalytic theory that can meet the explanatory challenge. My argument here is schematic, seeking only to motivate a research project. It would take a much longer exploration of these resources, providing far more psychological detail, to work out what can rightfully be called an account of the psychology of evil. §7 situates the psychology of evil in relation to ‘normal’ psychology by noting the positive functions of mental processes involved in the psychology of evil. (shrink)
If there is one lesson that Hannah Arendt drew from her encounter with Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem it was that the moral and political dangers of thoughtlessness had been grossly underestimated. But while thoughtlessness clearly “has its perils”, (LMT 177) as the example of Eichmann illustrates, thoughtfulness has its own problems, as the example of Heidegger illustrates. In the course of her 1964 interview with Günter Gaus, Arendt recalls her distaste for “intellectual business” that arose from witnessing the widespread and (...) “relatively voluntary” Gleichshaltung (co-ordination) of German “intellectuals” with the Nazis in 1933 (EU: 10). This was the year that Heidegger, Arendt’s former teacher and friend, “entered the Nazi Party in a very sensational way” (EU: 187). But Heidegger is for Arendt also a paragon of thoughtfulness who exposes the “incomprehensible triviality” (or banality) of “the they” and their “mere talk” (MDT: ix). This raises the following question: how can thoughtfulness, in the guise of Heidegger, and thoughtlessness, in the guise of Eichmann, both (though to a very different extent) lead to ‘co-ordination’ with the Nazis? What does this tell us about the relation between thinking and evil? (shrink)
Our time is characterized by what seems like an unprecedented process of intense global homogenization. This reality provides the context for exploring the nature and value of toleration. Hence, this essay is meant primarily as a contribution to international ethics rather than political philosophy. It is argued that because of the non-eliminability of differences in the world we should not even hope that there can be only one global religion or ideology. Further exploration exposes conceptual affinity between the concepts of (...) intolerance, ideology, and doctrinal evil. The last concept is developed in contrast to pure evil and average evil, and under the assumption of the metaphysical necessity of free will. Doctrinal evil is found to represent the main source of intolerance as a result of a mechanism that tends to confuse doctrinal evil (or the competing conceptions of the good) with pure evil. This connection between doctrinal evil and pure evil provides ideologies with their forcefulness. Tolerance cannot be properly understood in terms of a simple opposition to intolerance, however. Tolerance emerges as a sort of vigilance, conscientiousness, and non-negligence based not on a supposedly correct interpretation of the good, but rather on the acceptance of the fallibility of any such attempted definition. Conversely, the principal evil in doctrinal evil is found in arrogance that accompanies the intolerance-inducing irresponsible thoughtlessness. With this conceptual topology in mind the paper also addresses questions regarding religious tolerance, the ideology of human rights and democracy, the right to self-defense, ways to face evil, the dialectics of using old names for novel evils, and related issues. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that there is a kind of evil, namely, the unequal distribution of natural endowments, or natural inequality, which presents theists with a new evidential (not logical or incompatibility) problem of evil. The problem of natural inequality is a new evidential problem of evil not only because, to the best of my knowledge, it has not yet been discussed in the literature, but also because available theodicies, such the free will defense and the (...) soul-making defense, are not adequate responses in the face of this particular evil, or so I argue. (shrink)
Typically, philosophers interested in evil have typically been concerned with reconciling (or not) the apparent existence of gratuitous suffering with the existence of an omnipotent and omniscient and supremely loving and caring Deity. Undeniably, ‘evil’ functions as a mass noun: note the intelligibility of asking “Why is there so much evil in the world?” But ‘evil’ sometimes functions as an adjective and is used variously to describe persons, actions, desires, motives, and intentions; Joel Feinberg even speaks (...) of “evil smells.” In what follows, I shall consider the relationship between evil actions, evildoers—that is, persons disposed to perform evil actions—and evil people. Roughly, I defend the simple thesis that being an evil person just is being an evildoer. (shrink)
The existence of evil and suffering in our world seems to pose a serious challenge to belief in the existence of a perfect God. If God were all-knowing, it seems that God would know about all of the horrible things that happen in our world. If God were all-powerful, God would be able to do something about all of the evil and suffering. Furthermore, if God were morally perfect, then surely God would want to do something about it. (...) And yet we find that our world is filled with countless instances of evil and suffering. These facts about evil and suffering seem to conflict with the orthodox theist claim that there exists a perfectly good God. The challenged posed by this apparent conflict has come to be known as the problem of evil. (shrink)
Natural disasters would seem to constitute evidence against the existence of God, for, on the face of things, it is mysterious why a completely good and all-powerful God would allow the sort of suffering we see from earthquakes, diseases, and the like. The skeptical theist replies that we should not expect to be able to understand God's ways, and thus we should not regard it as surprising or mysterious that God would allow natural evil. I argue that skeptical theism (...) leads to moral paralysis: accepting skeptical theism would undermine our ability to make any moral judgments whatsoever. Second, and more briefly, I argue that skeptical theism would undercut our ability to accept any form of the argument from design, including recent approaches based on fine-tuning. (shrink)
There are two “problems of evil” (actually, as we will see in chapter 2 there are three main ones, each with multiple variants, but that doesn't matter here). One, the “logical” one in Alston's terminology, is almost universally thought to be not at all ...
It is common these days for theists to argue that we aren’t justified in believing atheism on the basis of evil. They claim that neither facts about particular horrors nor more holistic considerations pertaining to the magnitude, kinds and distribution of evil can ground atheism since we can't tell whether any evil is gratuitous.1 In this paper we explore a novel strategy for shedding light on these issues: we compare the atheist who claims that there is no (...) morally sufficient reason for certain evils with the physicist who claims that there is no causally sufficient reason for some events. (shrink)
It is plausible that being an evil person is a matter of having a particularly morally depraved character. I argue that suffering from extreme moral vices—and not consistently lacking moral vices, for example—suffices for being evil. Alternatively, I defend an extremity account concerning evil personhood against consistency accounts of evil personhood. After clarifying what it is for vices to be extreme, I note that the extremity thesis I defend allows that a person could suffer from both (...) extremely vicious character traits while possessing some modest virtue as well. By contrast, consistency theses rule out this possibility by definition. This result does not suggest that extremity accounts are flawed, however, since, as I argue, the thesis that evil people must lack moral virtue altogether effectively defines evil people out of existence and prematurely privileges skepticism about evil personhood. Ultimately, I contend that an extremity account is most consistent with common intuitions about putative evil persons as well as plausible assumptions about aretaic evaluations of character quite generally. (shrink)
Introduction: What is evil and how can we understand it? -- The theology of evil -- Theodicies -- The privation theodicy -- The free will theodicy -- The Iraenean theodicy -- The totality theodicy -- History as secular theodicy -- Job's insight-the theodicy of the hereafter -- Anthropology of evil -- Are people good or evil? -- The typologies of evil -- Demonic evil -- Evil for evil's sake -- Evil's aesthetic (...) seduction -- Sadism -- Schadenfreude -- Subjective and objective evil -- Kant and instrumental evil -- The impossibility of a "devilish" will -- The paradox of evil -- Moral rebirth -- The evil is the other-idealistic evil -- "Us" vs. "them" -- Violent individuals -- Arendt and stupid evil -- The evil and the stupid -- Radical and banal evil -- Eichmann, Hoss, and Stangl -- Normal people and extreme evil -- Thinking as opposition -- Evil people -- The problem of evil -- Theory and praxis -- Ethics of conviction and ethics of responsibility -- Politics and violence -- Evil as a concrete problem. (shrink)
The vast amount of suffering in the world is often held as a particularly powerful reason to deny that God exists. Now, one of the world's most distinguished philosophers of religion presents his own position on the problem of evil. Highly accessible and sensitively argued, Peter van Inwagen's book argues that such reasoning does not hold: his conclusion is not that God exists, but that suffering cannot be shown to prove that He does not.
Preprinted in God and the Problem of Evil(Blackwell 2001), ed. William Rowe. Many people deny that evil makes belief in atheism more reasonable for us than belief in theism. After all, they say, the grounds for belief in God are much better than the evidence for atheism, including the evidence provided by evil. We will not join their ranks on this occasion. Rather, we wish to consider the proposition that, setting aside grounds for belief in God and (...) relying only on the background knowledge shared in common by nontheists and theists, evil makes belief in atheism more reasonable for us than belief in theism. Our aim is to argue against this proposition. We recognize that in doing so, we face a formidable challenge. It’s one thing to say that evil presents a reason for atheism that is, ultimately, overridden by arguments for theism. It’s another to say that it doesn’t so much as provide us with a reason for atheism in the first place. In order to make this latter claim seem initially more plausible, consider the apparent design of the mammalian eye or the apparent fine-tuning of the universe to support life. These are often proposed as reasons to believe in theism. Critics commonly argue not merely that these supposed reasons for theism are overridden by arguments for atheism but rather that they aren’t good reasons for theism in the first place. Our parallel proposal with respect to evil and atheism is, initially at least, no less plausible than this proposal with respect to apparent design and theism. (shrink)
In recent years there has been widespread interest in assimilating forgiveness into a rational conception of the moral life. This project usually construes forgiveness as a way of “moving past” evil and resuming the moral narrative it disrupted. But to develop a philosophical sound conception of forgiveness, we must recognize that moral evil is world-shattering and cannot be assimilated into the moral narrative of our lives. It is not an event that happens in one’s world but to one’s (...) world. In this respect it is similar to death as Heidegger has described it. But, contrary to what Heidegger implies, evil is more traumatic than death because, unlike the latter, it shatters moral reasoning and moral narrative. Evil is a monstrosity; it traumatizes historical existence by impossibilizing the future. A philosophical account of forgiveness must therefore be traumatological: recognizing the traumatizing impact that evil has on historicity, it has provide us a heuristic that will help us to imagine the unimaginable possibility of transforming historical horror into good. (shrink)
Almost everyone allows that conditions can obtain that exempt agents from moral responsibility—that someone is not a morally responsible agent if certain conditions obtain. In his seminal Freedom and Resentment, Peter Strawson denies that the truth of determinism globally exempts agents from moral responsibility. As has been noted elsewhere, Strawson appears committed to the surprising thesis that being an evil person is an exempting condition. Less often noted is the fact that various Strawsonians—philosophers sympathetic with Strawson’s account of moral (...) responsibility—at least appear to have difficulty incorporating evil persons into their accounts of moral responsibility. In what follows, I argue that Strawson is not committed to supposing that being evil is an exempting condition—at least, that he can allow that evil persons are morally responsible agents. (shrink)
The Principle of Credulity: 'It is basic to human knowledge of the world that we believe things are as they seem to be in the absence of positive evidence to the contrary' [Swinburne 1996: 133]. This underlies the Evidential Problem of Evil, which goes roughly like this: ‘There appears to be a lot of suffering, both animal and human, that does not result in an equal or greater utility. So there's probably some pointless suffering. As God's existence precludes pointless (...) suffering, theism is implausible.’ CORNEA is the principle that observation O raises hypothesis H's probability only if O is more probable given H than it is given not-H. Theists sometimes maintain that apparently pointless suffering is just as likely given theism as atheism (I support this claim by appealing to a Lewisian account of the relevant counterfactuals). Given CORNEA, therefore, what we see of suffering does not make theism unlikely. I maintain that a consequence of so deploying CORNEA is that CORNEA and the Principle of Credulity are incompatible. We are left with a skeptical paradox. CORNEA is a consequence of Bayes’s Theorem, I argue; but it is incompatible with a presupposition of empirical science, namely, that appearances create epistemic warrant, ceteris paribus. External-world probability skepticism follows. I treat the paradox as real. First, I offer an account of how we strike a balance in practice between CORNEA, on the one hand, and the Principle of Credulity and the scientific enterprise on the other. Second, I try to resolve the paradox outright by rejecting the Principle of Credulity and maintaining that the scientific project remains well motivated even allowing probability skepticism. On either response to the paradox, the Evidential Problem of Evil continues to have serious, but defeasible, force against theism. (shrink)
It is widely agreed that the ‘Logical’ Argument from Evil (LAFE) is bankrupt. We aim to rehabilitate the LAFE, in the form of what we call the Normatively Relativised Logical Argument from Evil (NRLAFE). There are many different versions of a NRLAFE. We aim to show that one version, what we call the ‘right relationship’ NRLAFE, poses a significant threat to personal-omniGod-theism—understood as requiring the belief that there is an omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good person who has created our (...) world—because it appeals to value commitments theists themselves are likely to endorse. The ultimate success of this NRLAFE will rest on developing a theological ethics of right relationship that rejects as morally flawed the exercise of omnipotence first to sustain horrors and then to redeem them. Yet a vindicated NRLAFE of this sort need not require atheism, but only rejection of the standard conception of God as a personal omniGod. (shrink)
P.F. Strawson defends compatibilism by appeal to our natural commitment to the interpersonal community and the reactive attitudes. While Strawson''s compatibilist project has much to recommend it, his account of moral agency appears incomplete. Gary Watson has attempted to fortify Strawson''s theory by appeal to the notion of moral address. Watson then proceeds to argue, however, that Strawson''s theory of moral responsibility (so fortified) would commit Strawson to treating extreme evil as its own excuse. Watson also argues that the (...) reactive attitudes do not lend unequivocal support to Strawsonian compatibilism and that the reactive attitudes are sometimes sensitive to considerations which suggest an incompatibilist or skeptical diagnosis. Watson attempts to provide a Strawsonian defense against these difficulties, but he ultimately concludes that the skeptical threats raised against Strawsonian compatibilism cannot be sufficiently silenced. I believe that Watson has done Strawsonian compatibilism a great service by drawing upon the notion of moral address. In this paper I attempt to defend the Strawsonian compatibilist position, as Watson has cast it, against the problems raised by Watson. I argue against Watson that Strawson''s theory of responsibility, as well as the notion of moral address, does not commit the Strawsonian to treating extreme evil as its own excuse. I also argue that Watson misinterprets the point of certain reactive attitudes and thereby wrongly assumes that these attitudes are evidence against Strawsonian compatibilism. (shrink)
All modern liberal democracies have strong reasons to support an idea of toleration, understood as involving respect, not only grudging acceptance, and to extend it to all religious and secular doctrines, limiting only conduct that violates the rights of other citizens. There is no modern democracy, however, in which toleration of this sort is a stable achievement. Why is toleration, attractive in principle, so difficult to achieve? The normative case for toleration was well articulated by John Locke in his influential (...) A Letter Concerning Toleration , although his attractive proposal thus rests on a fragile foundation. Kant did much more, combining a Lockean account of the state with a profound diagnosis of radical evil, the tendencies in all human beings to militate against stable toleration and respect. But Kant proposed no mechanism through which the state might mitigate the harmful influence of radical evil, thus rendering toleration stable. One solution to this problem was proposed by Rousseau, but it has deep problems. How, then, can a respectful pluralistic society shore up the fragile human basis of toleration, especially in a world in which we need to cultivate toleration not only within each state, but also among peoples and states, in this interlocking world? Key Words: toleration emotion evil liberal democracy Locke Mill Kant Rousseau. (shrink)
Most arguments against God’s existence aim to show that it is incompatible with various apparent features of the world, such as the existence of evil or of human free will. In response, theists have sought to show that God’s existence is compatible with these features of the world. However, the fact that the proposition that God exists is necessary if possible introduces some underappreciated difficulties for these arguments.
Recent work on the evidential argument from evil offers us sundry considerations which are intended to weigh against this form of atheological arguments. By far the most provocative is that on a priori grounds alone, evil can be shown to be evidentially impotent. This astonishing thesis has been given a vigorous defense by Keith Yandell. In this paper, we shall measure the prospects for an a priori dismissal of evidential arguments from evil.
The problem of evil is one of the most discussed topics in the philosophy of religion. For some time, however, there has been a need for a collection of readings that adequately represents recent and ongoing writing on the topic. This volume fills that need, offering the most up-to-date collection of recent scholarship on the problem of evil. The distinguished contributors include J.L. Mackie, Nelson Pike, Roderick M. Chisholm, Terence Penelhum, Alvin Plantinga, William L. Rowe, Stephen J. Wykstra, (...) John Hick, and Diogenes Allen. Including an introductory essay and a selected bibliography, this comprehensive and completely up-to-date collection is an invaluable guide to current scholarship in this highly debated area of the philosophy of religion. Oxford Readings in Philosophy aims to bring together important recent writings in major areas of philosophical inquiry, selected from a variety of sources, mostly periodicals, which may not be conveniently available. (shrink)
According to a particular view of political realism, political expediency must always override moral considerations. Perhaps the strongest defense of such a theory is offered by Carl Schmitt in The Concept of the Political. A close examination of Schmitt’s main presuppositions can therefore help to shed light on the tenuous relation between politics and morality. Schmitt’s theory rests on two keystones. First, the political is seen as independent of and prior to morality. Second, genuine political theory depends on a view (...) of human beings as evil by nature. I will argue that both claims are incomplete. Just as the political sometimes demands that morality be overridden, so morality can demand the overriding of political expediency. Moreover, the view of human beings as evil, which serves as the foundation of political realism, itself depends on affirming that human nature must also be, in some sense, good. Political realism is thus shown to have its theoretical foundation within a normative framework that demands the political pursuit of at least some moral aims. (shrink)
In seeking to answer the question "How does that which is other become evil?" the author provides a discussion of four entwined aspects of the issue at stake: (1) difficulty in achieving clarity on the grammar of evil; (2) genocide as a striking illustration of otherness becoming evil; (3) the challenge of postnationalism as a resource for dealing with otherness in the socio-political arena; and (4) the ethico-religious dimension as it relates to the wider problem of (...) class='Hi'>evil. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that Leibniz’s form/matter defense of omnipotence is paradoxical, but not irretrievably so. Leibniz maintains that God necessarily must concur only in the possibility for evil’s existence in the world (the form of evil), but there are individual instances of moral evil that are not necessary (the matter of evil) with which God need not concur. For Leibniz, that there is moral evil in the world is contingent on (...) God’s will (a dimension of divine omnipotence), with the result that even though it is necessary that God exerts his will, there are particular products of his will that are contingent and unnecessary—including human moral evil. If there are instances of evil which are contingent on God’s will and yet unnecessary, then the problematic conclusion for Leibniz’s view must be that human evil depends upon divine concurrence, not just for its possibility in the world (which is necessary) but for its instance (which is contingent). If the form/matter defense of omnipotence contains a true paradox, then God concurs in the form as well as the matter of evil. To assuage this difficulty for Leibniz, I will argue that he could either give up an Augustinian notion of evil, or rely upon a distinction between *potenta absoluta* and *potenta ordinate*, which was popular among important thinkers in the medieval period. (shrink)
This paper critically examines what I call the ‘testing theodicy,’ the widely held idea that natural evil exists in order to test our faith in God. This theodicy appears numerous times in the scriptures of all three Abrahamic faiths. After examining some of these scriptural passages, we will argue that in light of these texts, the notion of faith is best understood as some type of commitment such as trust, loyalty or piety, rather than as merely a belief (...) in God’s existence. After carefully showing the form this theodicy must take, I argue that the testing theodicy suffers from serious difficulties and fails to adequately account for the existence of natural evil. (shrink)
The category of metaphysical evil introduced by Leibniz appears to cast a sinister shadow over the goodness of creation. It seems to imply that creatures, simply in virtue of not being gods, are to some degree intrinsically and inescapably evil. After briefly unpacking this difficulty and outlining a recent attempt to deal with it, this paper returns to the texts to propose a novel and multilayered understanding of Leibniz’s category of metaphysical evil by reading it against the (...) backdrop of the traditional typologies of evil with which he was unquestionably familiar. It comes to the conclusion that metaphysical evil plays two key roles for Leibniz. First, it captures what Aquinas and especially Suarez meant by ‘natural evil’. Contrary to the common assumption that it is Leibniz’s category of physical evil that holds the place of natural evil, the paper shows that Leibniz’s physical evil corresponds to Augustine’s category of evil of punishment for sin whereas natural evil – intended as a kind of evil which is not related to moral responsibility -- is subsumed under metaphysical evil. Secondly, the category of metaphysical evil covers also the notion of original creaturely imperfection. In classifying creaturely limitation as a kind of evil Leibniz breaks from the Augustinian-Thomist-Scholastic tradition and its distinction between negatio and privatio. On the other hand, notwithstanding this important break, Leibniz’s notion of metaphysical evil is intended to account for something which is firmly within the broadly Augustinian-Scholastic tradition, namely the ascription to all creatures of a limitation that stems from their being created ex nihilo. Finally, the paper returns a verdict of non-guilty to the charge that Leibniz’s metaphysical evil implies that creatures qua creatures are to some extent necessarily intrinsically evil. More generally, in typical Leibnizian fashion, the notion of metaphysical evil will appear to be a complex mix of indebtedness to tradition and bending of received doctrines into something significantly different. (shrink)
Evil has long fascinated psychologists, philosophers, novelists and playwrights but remains an incredibly difficult concept to talk about. On Evil is a compelling and at times disturbing tour of the many faces of evil. What is evil, and what makes people do awful things? If we can explain evil, do we explain it away? Can we imagine the mind of a serial killer, or does such evil defy description? Does evil depend on a (...) contrast with good, as religion tells us, or can there be evil for evil's sake? Adam Morton argues that any account of evil must help us understand three things: why evil occurs; why evil often arises out of banal or everyday situations; and how we can be seen as evil. Drawing on fascinating examples as diverse as Augustine, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, psychological studies of deviant behavior and profiles of serial killers, Adam Morton argues that evil occurs when internal, mental barriers against it simply break down. Adam Morton also introduces us to some nightmare people, such as Adolf Eichmann and Hannibal Lecter, reminding us that understanding their actions as humans brings us closer to understanding evil. Exciting and thought-provoking, On Evil is essential reading for anyone interested in a topic that attracts and repels us in equal measure. (shrink)
What distinguishes evils from ordinary wrongs? Is hatred a necessarily evil? Are some evils unforgivable? Are there evils we should tolerate? What can make evils hard to recognize? Are evils inevitable? How can we best respond to and live with evils? Claudia Card offers a secular theory of evil that responds to these questions and more. Evils, according to her theory, have two fundamental components. One component is reasonably foreseeable intolerable harm -- harm that makes a life indecent (...) and impossible or that makes a death indecent. The other component is culpable wrongdoing. Atrocities, such as genocides, slavery, war rape, torture, and severe child abuse, are Card's paradigms because in them these key elements are writ large. Atrocities deserve more attention than secular philosophers have so far paid them. They are distinguished from ordinary wrongs not by the psychological states of evildoers but by the seriousness of the harm that is done. Evildoers need not be sadistic:they may simply be negligent or unscrupulous in pursuing their goals. Card's theory represents a compromise between classic utilitarian and stoic alternatives (including Kant's theory of radical evil). Utilitarians tend to reduce evils to their harms; Stoics tend to reduce evils to the wickedness of perpetrators: Card accepts neither reduction. She also responds to Nietzsche's challenges about the worth of the concept of evil, and she uses her theory to argue that evils are more important than merely unjust inequalities. She applies the theory in explorations of war rape and violence against intimates. She also takes up what Primo Levi called "the gray zone", where victims become complicit in perpetrating on others evils that threaten to engulf themselves. While most past accounts of evil have focused on perpetrators, Card begins instead from the position of the victims, but then considers more generally how to respond to -- and live with -- evils, as victims, as perpetrators, and as those who have become both. (shrink)
In common with traditional forms of epistemic internalism, epistemological disjunctivism attempts to incorporate an awareness condition on justification. Unlike traditional forms of internalism, however, epistemological disjunctivism rejects the so-called New Evil Genius thesis. In so far as epistemological disjunctivism rejects the New Evil Genius thesis, it is revisionary. -/- After explaining what epistemological disjunctivism is, and how it relates to traditional forms of epistemic internalism / externalism, I shall argue that the epistemological disjunctivist’s account of the intuitions underlying (...) the New Evil Genius thought experiment is at best incomplete. As presented, therefore, epistemological disjunctivism is unable to accommodate the core guiding intuitions of epistemic internalism. Given the stated aim of not being revisionary on this score, the view is at a dialectical disadvantage over the traditional forms of epistemic internalism the position is meant to replace. Unfortunately, therefore, at present, the impasse between internalism and externalism remains. (shrink)
Miracles and the problem of evil are two prominent areas of research within philosophy of religion. On occasion these areas converge, with God’s goodness being brought into question by the claim that either there is a lack of miracles, or there are immoral miracles. In this paper I shall highlight a second manner in which miracles and the problem of evil relate. Namely, I shall give reason as to why what is considered to be miraculous may be dependent (...) upon a particular response to the problem of natural evil. To establish this claim, I shall focus upon Aquinas’s definition of a miracle and a particular free-will defence, the Luciferous defence. (shrink)
Terrorism, torture, and the problems of evil -- Diabolical evil, searching for Satan -- Philosophies of evil -- Communities of fear -- The enemy within -- Bad seeds -- The character of evil -- Facing the Holocaust -- Twenty-first-century mythologies.
In his book The Myth of Evil , Phillip Cole claims that the concept of evil divides normal people from inhuman, demonic and monstrous wrongdoers. Such monsters are found in fiction, Cole maintains, but not in reality. Thus, even if the concept of evil has the requisite form to be explanatorily useful, it will be of no explanatory use in the real world. My aims in this paper are to assess Cole’s arguments for the claim that there (...) are no actual evil persons, and, in so doing, to develop a clearer framework in which to think about evil personhood. While Cole is right to claim that there are no actual evil monsters or supernatural demons, he underestimates the extent to which ascriptions of demonic monstrosity are figurative rather than literal. Hence, a lack of actual monsters does not imply a lack of actual evil persons. More plausibly, Cole suggests that the concept of evil implies an unrealistically dualistic worldview, with purely evil people on one side and ordinary people on the other. Since no one is purely bad, Cole claims, the concept of evil fails to refer to actual persons. Cole is wrong to think that the use of extreme moral concepts is incompatible with fine-grained moral evaluations across a broad spectrum between the extremes. Nor is Cole sufficiently careful in unpacking the various ways in which a person might be considered purely bad. I will argue that some actual persons are extremely bad, that it is very likely that some actual persons are fixedly bad, and that quite possibly no actual persons are thoroughly bad or innately bad. It is plausible that a person is evil only if he is extremely and fixedly bad, but Cole is wrong to suppose that a person is evil only if he is thoroughly and innately bad. Thus, even if we accept Cole’s claim that no actual person is thoroughly or innately bad, it still seems very likely that some actual persons are evil, and hence that evil can be an explanatorily useful concept. (shrink)
In this paper I defend the thesis that, considered simply as certain sorts of bodily sensations, pleasure is not the good nor is pain intrinsically evil. In fact, the opposite is largely the case: pursuit of pleasure is generally productive of ontic evil, and pain, when heeded, directs us toward the ontic good.
The Evidential Problem of Evil The evidential problem of evil is the problem of determining whether and, if so, to what extent the existence of evil (or certain instances, kinds, quantities, or distributions of evil) constitutes evidence against the existence of God, that is to say, a being perfect in power, knowledge and goodness. Evidential […].
Peter Hare and Edward Madden's collaborative book Evil and the Concept of God (968) has become a staple in literature about the problem of evil and remains frequently cited by supporters and critics alike. The major concepts of the work arose out of earlier papers in which they first began to formulate their arguments about the problem of evil. Their article "Evil and Unlimited Power" embodies many of their arguments against quasi-theist attempts to resolve the problem (...) of evil.1 Assembled from these and other papers, their compendium frames a thorough synthesis of the long history of debate regarding the problem of evil, and contributes their own exhaustive, point-by-point attack on modern defenders of three main .. (shrink)
I formulate and defend a version of the many universes (or multiverse) reply to the atheistic argument from evil. Specifically, I argue that (i) if we know that any argument from evil (be it a logical or evidential argument) is sound, then we know that God would be (or at least probably would be) unjustified in actualizing our universe. I then argue that (ii) there might be a multiverse and (iii) if so, then we do not know that (...) God would be (or at least probably would be) unjustified in actualizing our universe. It follows that we cannot know that the atheistic argument from evil is sound, in which case we cannot be certain that the argument succeeds, and so it is rational to refuse to reject theism because of such arguments. (shrink)
Our Book Review Editor, James Keller, invited William Hasker to write a review of the Book by D.Z. Phillips, The Problem of Evil and the Problem of God and then in consultation with the Editor-in-Chief invited Phillips to respond. Aware of both their respect for each other and their philosophical differences we planned that Hasker’s review and Phillips’ response would appear in the same issue of the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. Unfortunately that was not to be. Dewi, (...) as he was known to his many friends throughout the world, collapsed at his desk on 25 July, 2006 in the library of his beloved University of Wales, Swansea. Although we were not able to have the review and response appear in the same issue as we had all planned, we are now printing his response to Hasker’s review, “D.Z. Phillips’s Problems with Evil and with God,” which appeared in IJPR, Vol. 61,3. Dewi had completed the review and thanks to the efforts of Helen Baldwin who prepared the manuscript and Dewi’s wife, Monica, and family we are able to print it here. Since Dewi was responding to an earlier version of Hasker’s review, a few minor editorial changes have been made. Dewi’s death is a great loss to the philosophical community and a deep personal loss to his family and friends, but I am confident that he would be pleased to have this response appear. He might even have a story to tell, a comment that those who knew him well will fully understand. Eugene Thomas Long. (shrink)
The problem of evil -- Aquinas, philosophy, and theology -- What there is -- Goodness and badness -- God the creator -- God's perfection and goodness -- The creator and evil -- Providence and grace -- The trinity and Christ -- Aquinas on god and evil.
One of the most vexing problems in the philosophy of religion is the existence of moral evil in light of an omnipotent and wholly good deity. A popular mode of diffusing the argument from evil lies in the appeal to free will. Traditionally it is argued that there is a strong connection, even a necessary one, between the ability to exercise free will and the occurrence of wrong-doing. Transworld depravity, as characterized by Alvin Plantinga, is a concept which (...) has gone far to explain this relationship. Essentially, the notion of transworld depravity involves the claim that in any world where a person is significantly free that person would, on some occasion, act morally wrongly, or as Plantinga phrases it: ‘If S' were actual, P would go wrong with respect to A’ (where S' is a possible world, P is a person and A is an action). Not only, Plantinga claims, is it possible that there are persons who suffer from transworld depravity, but ‘it is possible that everybody suffers from it’. If transworld depravity obtains, Plantinga notes, God ‘might have been able to create worlds in which moral evil is very considerably outweighed by moral good; but it was not within His power to create worlds containing moral good but no moral evil – and this despite the fact that He is omnipotent’. On this view, God could not instantiate perfect-person essences who would not ever sin. Although Plantinga argues that these instantiated beings are significantly free in that they could have done otherwise (i.e. not sinned), it does seem that his claim about transworld depravity amounts to a claim about transworld depravity amounts to a claim about the existence of a necessary connection obtaining between freedom and evil. For even though it makes sense to claim that an individual may have unactualized dispositions, to claim that everyone, past, present and future, has unactualized dispositions seems to be a significantly different claim. It is therefore difficult to see how this latter claim differs in substance from the claim of a necessary connection obtaining between the capacity for free will and the commission of evil acts. (shrink)
This study examines a model involving income, the love of money, pay satisfaction, organizational commitment, job changes, and unethical behavior among 211 full-time employees in Hong Kong, China. Direct paths suggested that the love of money was related to unethical behavior, but income (money) was not. Indirect paths showed that income was negatively related to the love of money that, in turn, was negatively related to pay satisfaction that, in turn, was negatively associated with unethical behavior. Pay satisfaction was positively (...) related to organizational commitment. Thus, the love of money is the root of evil, but money is not. (shrink)
This timely manifesto on the idea of evil written by a leading philosopher intervenes positively in the resurgent debate about evil. Surveys the intellectual debate on the nature of evil over the past two hundred years Engages with a broad range of discourses and thinkers, from Kant and the German Idealists, via Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, to Levinas and Adorno Suggests that the concept of moral evil touches on a neuralgic point in western culture Argues that, despite (...) the widespread abuse and political manipulation of the term ‘evil’, we cannot do without it Concludes that if we use the concept of evil, we must acknowledge its religious dimension. (shrink)
This is the first anthology to present the full range of the many forms evil. Rorty has assembled a collection of readings that include not only the most common forms of evil, such as vice, sin, cruelty and crime, but also some which are less well known, like disobedience and willfulness. The readings are drawn from a rich array of historical, philosophical, theological, literary, dramatic, psychological and legal perspectives.