There is yet one more proposed solution to the argumentfromevil which merits attention. Though it does have elements in common with other proposed solutions in that it postulates a justifying end to account for the existence of all evil, it is different in that evil is viewed as nothing more than a polluting by-product of the proper functioning of the laws of nature in their industrious manufacture of the summum bonum. The unimpeded functioning (...) of the laws of nature is seen as necessary for the production and creation of a justifying (indiscernible) end and evil or suffering is merely a foreseen but unfortunate by-product of this natural machinery. The place and function of evil in this solution is what is novel: it is not a greatness-making property, nor is it a punishment or warning from on high, nor is its usefulness an aesthetic or contrasting one, nor is it the result of free will. Evil is admitted as just plain evil; it itself plays no role to serve the valuable end, which is precipitated by the unimpeded operation of natural laws upon the universe. Evil here is seen to play the same role that pollution might: it is a foreseen and unfortunate consequence of the means used to produce the coveted final product. -/- Professor Clement Dore, in his book entitled Theism, introduces this solution in which evil itself plays no role to serve an enormously valuable end, yet is necessitated by this end. However, in order for the theist to be in a position to defend Dore's claim, a viable interpretation of the justifying, indiscernible end, must be proposed. To assess the validity of Dore's schema, four apparently exhaustive interpretations of the justifying end will be presented. It will be argued here that each of these possible interpretations is, in one respect or another, inadequate. The result is that the concept of the justifying, indiscernible end and its relation to Dore's overall schema lacks lucidity. In addition, other problems with this solution will be discussed in order to show that severe flaws exist in the solution as a whole. (shrink)
Philosophical naturalism is a cluster of views and impulses typically taken to include atheism, physicalism, radical empiricism or naturalized epistemology, and some sort of relativism, subjectivism or nihilism about morality. I argue that a problem arises when the naturalist offers the argumentfromevil for atheism. Since the argumentfromevil is a moral argument, it cannot be effectively deployed by anyone who holds the denatured ethical theories that the naturalist typically holds. In (...) the context of these naturalistic ethical theories, the argumentfromevil typically fails to provide good reason for either the naturalist or the theist to disbelieve in the God of theism. This does not prove that naturalism is false, or that the argumentfromevil is unsound, but rather that certain naturalists’ use of the argument has been misguided. (shrink)
Is evil evidence against the existence of God? Even if God and evil are compatible, it remains hotly contested whether evil renders belief in God unreasonable. The Evidential ArgumentfromEvil presents five classic statements on this issue by eminent philosophers and theologians and places them in dialogue with eleven original essays reflecting new thinking by these and other scholars. The volume focuses on two versions of the argument. The first affirms that there (...) is no reason for God to permit either certain specific horrors or the variety and profusion of undeserved suffering. The second asserts that pleasure and pain, given their biological role, are better explained by hypotheses other than theism. -/- Contributors include William P. Alston, Paul Draper, Richard M. Gale, Daniel Howard-Snyder, Alvin Plantinga, William L. Rowe, Bruce Russell, Eleonore Stump, Richard G. Swinburne, Peter van Inwagen, and Stephen John Wykstra. (shrink)
Recent work on the evidential argumentfromevil 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 fromevil.
It is widely agreed that the ‘Logical’ ArgumentfromEvil (LAFE) is bankrupt. We aim to rehabilitate the LAFE, in the form of what we call the Normatively Relativised Logical ArgumentfromEvil (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)
Evil, it is often said, poses a problem for theism, the view that there is an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being, "God," for short. This problem is usually called "the problem of evil." But this is a bad name for what philosophers study under that rubric. They study what is better thought of as an argument, or a host of arguments, rather than a problem. Of course, an argumentfromevil against theism can (...) be both an argument and a problem. Some people realize this for the first time when they assert an argumentfromevil in print and someone publishes a .reply in which numerous defects and oversights are laid bare for the public eye. And if it turns out that there is a God and He doesn't take kindly to such arguments, then an argumentfromevil might be a big problem, a very big problem, for one who sincerely propounds it. Typically, however, an argumentfromevil is not thought to be a problem for the atheist. But if not for the atheist, for whom is an argumentfromevil a "problem"? (shrink)
This paper examines an evidential argumentfromevil recently defended by William Rowe, one that differs significantly from the kind of evidential argument Rowe has become renowned for defending. After providing a brief outline of Rowe’s new argument, I contest its seemingly uncontestable premise that our world is not the best world God could have created. I then engage in a lengthier discussion of the other key premise in Rowe’s argument, viz., the Leibnizian (...) premise that any world created by God must be the best world God can create. In particular, I discuss the criticisms raised against this premise by William Wainwright as well as Rowe’s attempt to meet these criticisms. The Wainwright-Rowe exchange, I argue, highlights some insuperable difficulties in Rowe’s challenge to theism. (shrink)
In this article I investigate Rowe's recent probabilistic argumentfromevil. By using muddy Venn diagrams to present his argument, we see that although his argument is fallacious, it can be modified in a way that strengthens it considerably. I then discuss the recent exchange between Rowe and Plantinga over this argument. Although Rowe's argument is not an argumentfrom degenerate evidence as Plantinga claimed, it is problematic because it is an (...)argumentfrom partitioned evidence. I conclude by discussing the modified argument and the epistemic framework Rowe is assuming in his argument. (shrink)
The argumentfromevil, though it is the most effective rhetorical argument against orthodox theism, fails to demonstrate its conclusion, since we are unavoidably ignorant whether there is more evil than could possibly be justified. That same ignorance infects any claims to discern a divine purpose in nature, as well as recent attempts at a broadly Irenaean theodicy. Evolution is not, on neo-Darwinian theory, intellectually, morally, or spiritually progressive in the way that some religious thinkers (...) have supposed. To suppose so, indeed, is to misidentify the evils we should fear. But though we should neither conceal the evils of the world nor offer any consequentialist justification of them, we may still reasonably maintain an orthodox theism. Evil is not created so that otherwise unattainable goods may come, but is an unavoidable byproduct of creation which it is – or may be – God's purpose to redeem. (Published Online April 21 2004). (shrink)
In a previous issue of Philo, Michael Almeida claimed to have “defeated” William Rowe’s “New Evidential ArgumentfromEvil” againstthe existence of a benevolent god. However, Almeida’s argument suffers from serious logical errors and even logical absurdities, leaving Rowe’s argument intact and quite unthreatened by anything Almeida argues.
The first part of this paper exposits William Rowe's latest version of the evidentialargumentfromevil. Integral to this new version is what we can call the 'level-playing field' requirement, which regulates probability values. It is the argument of the second part of this paper that either the two premises of the new version are regulated by the level-playing-field requirement or they're not. If they are both regulated, then no one would be in position (...) to rationally accept one of those premises; if they're not both regulated, then the theist would have good reason to reject the one that is. Either way, Rowe's latest version of the evidentialargument fails. (shrink)
The evidential argument for atheism fromevil may be appealing because it seems both less naïve and more enlightened than theism. However, implicit in the argument that the world contains so much evil that it could not have been created by God is the tacitnihilistic proposition that the world is so bad that it would be better that it not exist at all. Besides entailing an unattractive rejection of the worth of the existence of the (...) world, atheism motivated by the argumentfromevil is also embroiled in moral inconsistencies that make it difficult or impossible for the atheologian to live and act in the world with moral consistency and seriousness. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the some of the most popular and influential formulations of the ArgumentfromEvil (AE) assume a moral perspective that is essentially consequentialist, and would therefore be unacceptable to deontologists. Specifically, I examine formulations of the argument offered by William Rowe and Bruce Russell, both of whom explicitly assert that their formulation of AE is theoretically neutral with respect to consequentialism, and can be read in a way that is unobjectionable (...) to deontologists. I argue that, in fact, this in not the case. Finally, I look at the implications of the consequentialist assumptions of AE for theodicies based on free will. (shrink)
A clearer case of a horrible event in nature, a natural evil, has never been presented to me. It seemed to me self evident that the natural law that animals must savagely kill and devour each other in order to survive was an evil natural law and that the obtaining of this law was sufficient evidence that God did not exist. If I held a certain epistemological theory about "basic beliefs", I might conclude from this experience that (...) my intuition that there is no God co existing with th is horror was a "basic belief" and thus that I am epistemically entitled to be an atheist without needing to justify this intuition, But I do not hold such an epistemological theory and believe that intuitive atheological beliefs, such as the one I experienced (and the corresponding intuitive theological beliefs, such as that God is providentially watching over this gruesome event) require justification if they are to be epistemically warranted. The following sections of this article present a justification for the atheological intuition I experienced that dark night. My justification will consist mostly in providing reasons to believe premise (3) in the following probabilistic argument.. (shrink)
Where was God? Where was the intelligent designer of the universe when 1.5 million children were turned into smoke by zealous Nazis? Where was the all powerful, all knowing, wholly good being whose very essence is radically opposed to evil, while millions of children were starved to death by Stalin, had their limbs chopped off with machetes in Rwanda, were turned into amputees by the diamond trade in Sierra Leone, and worked to death, even now, by the child slave (...) trade that, by conservative estimates, enslaves 250 million children worldwide?Without divine justice, all of this suffering is gratuitous. How, then, can a wholly good, all-powerful God be believed to exist? The existence of evil is the most fundamental threat to the traditional Western concept of an all-good, all-powerful God. Both natural evil, the suffering that occurs as a result of physical phenomena, and moral evil, the suffering resulting from human action, comprise the problem of evil. If evil cannot be accounted for, then belief in the traditional Western concept of God is absurd. (shrink)
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 argumentfromevil 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 paper examines Alvin Plantinga's defence of theistic belief in the light of Paul Draper's formulation of the problem of evil. Draper argues (a) that the facts concerning the distribution of pain and pleasure in the world are better explained by a hypothesis which does not include the existence of God than by a hypothesis which does; and (b) that this provides an epistemic challenge to theists. Plantinga counters that a theist could accept (a) yet still rationally maintain a (...) belief in God. His defence of theism depends on the epistemic value of religious experience. I argue, however, that Plantinga's defence of theism is not successful. (shrink)
This paper summarizes a version of the argumentfromevil for atheism and then assesses several theodicies, including those that appeal to punishment, evil as a necessary counterpart for good, free will, natural evil as natural consequence, natural law, higher-order goods, and the conjunctive "Big Reason" including all the above and more beside.
The most common charge against sceptical theism is that it is too sceptical, i.e. it committed to some undesirable form of scepticism or another. I contend that Michael Bergmann’s sceptical theism isn’t sceptical enough. I argue that, if true, the sceptical theses secure a genuine victory: they prevent, for some people, a prominent argumentfromevilfrom providing any justification whatsoever to doubt the existence of God. On the other hand, even if true, the sceptical theses (...) fail to prevent even the atheist from justifiably accepting it. (shrink)
Recent discussion of the problem of evil has centered around what is known as the probabilistic or evidential argumentfromevil. According to this argument the evil in our world is evidence against the existence of God, even though evil is logically consistent with God’s existing. Based on this it is claimed it is irrational to believe one of the traditional theistic religions, unless there is overwhelming positive evidence to counter this negative evidence. (...) One of the most important and widely discussed versions of this argument is due to Paul Draper.1 In this paper I will look at Draper’s argument and argue that he has made a simple fundamental error; as a result his argument is irrelevant to most theists. After discussing this error in Draper’s argument, I will discuss probabilistic arguments fromevilfrom the perspective of confirmation theory. The error in Draper’s argument is easily made and could occur in any probabilistic argumentfromevil; looking at confirmation theory and probabilistic arguments fromevil will provide insight into reasoning about evil and belief in God. (shrink)
When God is conceived of as an all-powerful and all-loving deity, many arguments for his nonexistence can be raised. Two of the main ones are the ArgumentfromEvil (hereafter abbreviated AE) and the Argumentfrom Nonbelief (hereafter abbreviated ANB). In what follows, I shall provide precise formulations of those two arguments, make some comments about them, and then try to refute the main defenses (of God's existence) that might be put forward against ANB, which (...) I consider the stronger of the two. I take ANB to be a sound argument establishing the proposition that God (conceived of in a certain way) does not exist. (shrink)
Sceptical theists--e.g., William Alston and Michael Bergmann--have claimed that considerations concerning human cognitive limitations are alone sufficient to undermine evidential arguments fromevil. We argue that, if the considerations deployed by sceptical theists are sufficient to undermine evidential arguments fromevil, then those considerations are also sufficient to undermine inferences that play a crucial role in ordinary moral reasoning. If cogent, our argument suffices to discredit sceptical theist responses to evidential arguments fromevil.
Bruce Russell has classified evidential arguments fromevil into four types, one of which is the type-4 argument. Rather than begin with observations of evils that appear to be gratuitous, type-4 arguments simply begin with observations of evils. The next step, and the heart of a type-4 argument, is an abductive inference (inference to the best explanation) from those observations, to the conclusion that there is gratuitous evil. Reflection upon the consequential complexity of history, (...) however, reveals that we have no objective grounds for making the key, abductive inference, thus, all type-4 arguments fromevil fail. (shrink)
It is argued that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Bas van Fraassen nowhere uses the argumentfrom underdetermination in his argument for constructive empiricism. It is explained that van Fraassen’s use of the notion of empirical equivalence in The Scientific Image has been widely misunderstood. A reconstruction of the main arguments for constructive empiricism is offered, showing how the passages that have been taken to be part of an appeal to the argumentfrom underdetermination should actually (...) be interpreted. (shrink)
At a time in which probability theory is exerting an unprecedented influence on epistemology and philosophy of science, promising to deliver an exact and unified foundation for the philosophy of rational inference and decision-making, it is worth remembering that the philosophy of religion has long proven to be an extremely fertile ground for the application of probabilistic thinking to traditional epistemological debates. This volume brings together original contributions from twelve contemporary researchers, both established and emerging, to offer a representative (...) sample of the work currently being carried out in this potentially rich field of inquiry. Grouped into five sections, the chapters span a broad range of traditional issues in religious epistemology. The first three sections discuss the evidential impact of various considerations that have often been brought to bear on the question of the existence of God. These include witness reports of the occurrence of miraculous events, the existence of complex biological adaptations, the apparent ‘fine-tuning’ for life of various physical constants and the existence of seemingly unnecessary evil. The fourth section addresses a number of issues raised by Pascal’s famous pragmatic argument for theistic belief. A final section offers probabilistic perspectives on the rationality of faith and the epistemic significance of religious disagreement. (shrink)
Rationality (or something similar) is usually given as the relevant difference between all humans and animals; the reason humans do but animals do not deserve moral consideration. But according to the Argumentfrom Marginal Cases not all humans are rational, yet if such (marginal) humans are morally considerable despite lacking rationality it would be arbitrary to deny animals with similar capacities a similar level of moral consideration. The slippery slope objection has it that although marginal humans are not (...) strictly speaking morally considerable, we should give them moral consideration because if we do not we will slide down a slippery slope where we end up by not giving normal humans due consideration. I argue that this objection fails to show that marginal humans have the kind of direct moral status proponents of the slippery slope argument have in mind. (shrink)
Proponents of the argumentfrom regress maintain that the existence of Instrumental Value is sufficient to establish the existence of Intrinsic Value. It is argued that the chain of instrumentally valuable things has to end somewhere. Namely with intrinsic value. In this paper, I shall argue something a little more modest than this. I do not want to argue that the regress argument proves that there is intrinsic value but rather that it proves that the idea of (...) intrinsic value is a necessary part of our thinking about moral value. (shrink)
According to the Argumentfrom Disagreement (AD) widespread and persistent disagreement on ethical issues indicates that our moral opinions are not influenced by moral facts, either because there are no such facts or because there are such facts but they fail to influence our moral opinions. In an innovative paper, Gustafsson and Peterson (Synthese, published online 16 October, 2010) study the argument by means of computer simulation of opinion dynamics, relying on the well-known model of Hegselmann and (...) Krause (J Artif Soc Soc Simul 5(3):1–33, 2002; J Artif Soc Soc Simul 9(3):1–28, 2006). Their simulations indicate that if our moral opinions were influenced at least slightly by moral facts, we would quickly have reached consensus, even if our moral opinions were also affected by additional factors such as false authorities, external political shifts and random processes. Gustafsson and Peterson conclude that since no such consensus has been reached in real life, the simulation gives us increased reason to take seriously the AD. Our main claim in this paper is that these results are not as robust as Gustafsson and Peterson seem to think they are. If we run similar simulations in the alternative Laputa simulation environment developed by Angere and Olsson (Angere, Synthese, forthcoming and Olsson, Episteme 8(2):127–143, 2011) considerably less support for the AD is forthcoming. (shrink)
In this paper I will examine two responses to the argumentfrom marginal cases; the argumentfrom kinds and the similarity argument. I will argue that these arguments are insufficient to show that all humans have moral status but no animals do. This does not prove that animals have moral status but it does shift the burden of proof onto those who want to maintain that all humans are morally considerable, but no animals are.
One form of argumentfrom analogy is identified and Stephen Barker's remarks about a second kind of argumentfrom analogy, non-inductive (and non-deductive) argumentfrom analogy, are used as a springboard to identify a second form. That form is then refined, explained, exemplified, and related to the first form. It is argued that there is a spectrum of different forms of argumentfrom analogy, with the two forms identified being end points on (...) the spectrum. Except in terms of form, however, there is no reason to speak of two different kinds of argumentfrom analogy. (shrink)
In this essay I propose an interpretative and explanatory structure for the so-called argumentum ex silento, or argumentfrom silence (henceforth referred to as the AFS). To this end, I explore two examples, namely, Sherlock Holmes’s oft-quoted notice of the “curious incident of the dog in the night-time” from Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “Silver Blaze,” and the historical question of Paul of Tarsus’s silence on biographical details of the historical Jesus. Through these cases, I conclude that (...) the AFS serves as a dialogical topos best evaluated and understood through the perceived authority of the arguer and the willingness of the audience to accept that authority, due to the “curious” nature of the negative evidence that the argument employed. (shrink)
Many arguments fromevil at least tacitly rely on something like the following line of thought: The Inference. Since, on sustained reflection, we don’t see how any reason would justify God in permitting all the evil and suffering in the world, there is no such reason.1 Typically, the conclusion is more nuanced: “it is very likely that there is no such reason” or “more likely than not” or “more likely than it otherwise would be”. Some critics reject (...) the premise: we can see how God would be justified, they say. Others accept the premise but argue that better evidence rebuts the conclusion. Still others represent skepticism: the premise is true but, even if there are no rebutters, other considerations undercut the Inference.2 In this essay I aim to assess an increasingly popular objection to skepticism. (shrink)
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 this article, two of Theodore Drange’s atheological arguments against the God of Christianity are refuted by what I call the “Expectations Defense.” By means of this defense, it is shown that, despite what Drange argues, the existence of evil and unbelief cannot be used as evidence against the existence of the God of the Bible. The fact that biblical history describes God as allowing there to be vast amounts of evil and unbelief prevents us from citing (...) the existence of those things as evidence against the existence of the biblical God. Quite simply, we should expect there to be great amounts of suffering and doubt if the God of the Bible exists. As a result of this, it follows that Drange’s arguments are unsound, and should be rejected by rational people. (shrink)
Marginal humans are not rational yet we still think they are morally considerable. This is inconsistent with denying animals moral status on the basis of their irrationality. Therefore, either marginal humans and animals are both morally considerable or neither are. In this paper I consider a major objection to this argument: that species is a relevant difference between humans animals.
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)
We argue that Michael Peterson's and William Hasker's attempts to show that God and gratuitous evil are compatible constitute miserable failures. We then sketch Peter van Inwagen's attempt to do the same and conclude that, to date, no one has shown his attempt a failure.
severe and prolonged pain, in heartbreak and destruction, in disloyalty and betrayal, in the suffering of the innocent, in unjust punishment. He has, in short, an intense dislike for anything that you or I might approve of or enjoy. If he had his druthers we'd all be utterly miserable and come to a bad end. Now I' ve certainly never met a demonist, and I suppose we can agree that demonism would be an extraordinarily implausible view. Still, it is worth (...) asking why this is so, What is it that makes demonism so absurd?' In part 1 of this paper, I explore and critically evaluate the suggestion that we know the Demon does not exist because there are so many instances of goodness that such a being would have no apparent "reason" for allowing. Throughout, myAemonist will be helping himself to the "insights" of theists who defend classical theism against a parallel problem Ã¢â¬â the so-called evidential problem of evil Ã¢â¬â by claiming that we just don't know enough to make the argument go through. In part 2, I draw out two implications. First, that this purely defensive strategy works just as well for demonism as for theism. And second, that if this approach to the argumentfromevil works as well as some theists believe, then there is no.. (shrink)
One of the most intractable problems for the contemporary Anglo-American theist is reconciling the enormous amount of apparent gratuitous suffering in the world with the existence of an all-perfect deity. Suffering Belief reviews the leading attempts at justifying the existence of evil and salvaging a rational basis of belief in the traditional Western God. Through a systematic evaluation of the kinds of evil that most strongly call belief into question, such as genocide, natural catastrophes, animal suffering, and disease, (...) it is shown that there is scant basis for continued belief in an all-perfect God and compelling reason for abandoning such a damaging construct. (shrink)
Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Wadsworth, 2013, 6th edition, eds. Michael Rea and Louis Pojman. In this essay, I argue that the moral skepticism objection to what is badly named "skeptical theism" fails.
Herbert McCabe and Brian Davies defend an Aquinas-inspired, anti-anthropomorphic natural theology that emphasises the mysterious distance between the Creator and his creation. This theology gives rise to a powerful response to the problem of evil, powerful enough to scuttle the academic problem of evil that is based on a confused anthropomorphic understanding of God. But that does not dispose of the problem of evil per se. The McCabe–Davies natural theology can succeed only by appropriating a personal understanding (...) of “the ultimate question” (why is there something rather than nothing?), which is at odds with their reluctance to give up on a metaphysical argument to establish the reality of God from outside religious faith and practice. But if that same personal understanding is applied to the problem of evil we find it generates “the unprecedented charge,” a form of the problem that does not depend on an anthropomorphic conception of God. The way forward for the McCabe–Davies natural theology is to follow Dewi Phillips in his rejection of philosophy's aspiration to find “external justifications” for our religious lives. (shrink)
Preprinted in God and the Problem of Evil (Blackwell 2001), ed. William Rowe. In this article, we reply to Bill Rowe's "Evil is Evidence Against Theistic Belief" in Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion (Blackwell 2003).
Following Hume’s lead, Paul Draper argues that, given the biological role played by both pain and pleasure in goal-directed organic systems, the observed facts about pain and pleasure in the world are antecedently much more likely on the Hypothesis of Indifference than on theism. I examine one by one Draper’s arguments for this claim and show how they miss the mark.
In this paper I defend what I call the argumentfrom epistemic reasons against the moral error theory. I argue that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief and that this is bad news for the moral error theory since, if there are no epistemic reasons for belief, no one knows anything. If no one knows anything, then no one knows that there is thought when they are thinking, and no one knows (...) that they do not know everything. And it could not be the case that we do not know that there is thought when we believe that there is thought and that we do not know that we do not know everything. I address several objections to the claim that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief. It might seem that arguing against the error theory on the grounds that it entails that no one knows anything is just providing a Moorean argument against the moral error theory. I show that even if my argument against the error theory is indeed a Moorean one, it avoids Streumer's, McPherson's and Olson's objections to previous Moorean arguments against the error theory and is a more powerful argument against the error theory than Moore's argument against external world skepticism is against external world skepticism. (shrink)
This project tackles the problem of analyzing a specific form of reasoning called âsunk costsâ in economics and âargumentfrom wasteâ in argumentation theory. The project is to build a normative structure representing the form of the argument, and then to apply this normative structure to actual cases in which the sunk costs argument has been used. The method is partly structural and partly empirical. The empirical part is carried out through the analysis of case studies (...) of the sunk costs argument found in business decision-making, as well as other areas like medical decision-making and everyday conversational argumentation. The structural part is carried out by using existing methods and techniques from argumentation theory, like argumentation schemes. The project has three especially significant findings. First, the sunk costs argument is not always fallacious, and in many cases it can be seen to be a rational precommitment strategy. Second, a formal model of argumentation, called practical reasoning, can be constructed that helps a rational critic to judge which sunk costs arguments are fallacious and which are not. Third, this formal model represents an alternative model of rationality to the cost-benefit model based on Bayesian calculation of probabilities. This alternative model is called the argumentation model, and it is based on interpersonal reasoning in dialogue as the model of rational thinking. This model in turn is based on the underlying notion of commitment in dialogue. (shrink)
The 'argumentfrom queerness', made famous by J. L. Mackie, remains one of the most influential arguments in metaethics. However, many philosophers focus on just one or two of its strands, while others assume a particular but by no means universal reading of it. This essay attempts to disentangle and evaluate all strands of the argument. Surprisingly, when this is done, not much is left as a distinct argumentfrom queerness. Much of the argument (...) collapses into other types of argument, and what is left, though intuitively appealing, is not viable as philosophical argument. (shrink)
One of the main libertarian arguments in support of free will is the argumentfrom introspection. This argument places a great deal of faith in our conscious feeling of freedom and our introspective abilities. People often infer their own freedom from their introspective phenomenology of freedom. It is here argued that from the fact that I feel myself free, it does not necessarily follow that I am free. I maintain that it is our mistaken belief (...) in the transparency and infallibility of consciousness that gives the introspective argument whatever power it possesses. Once we see that consciousness is neither transparent nor infallible, the argumentfrom introspection loses all of its force. I argue that since we do not have direct, infallible access to our own minds, to rely on introspection to infer our own freedom would be a mistake. (shrink)
The argumentfrom design for God's existence is involved with important questions about the conditions under which it is reasonable to believe that a state of affairs was brought about intentionally. In this paper I shall offer a version of the argument and defend it, if not quite in the sense of trying to show conclusively that it succeeds, then, at least, in the sense of trying to show that it deserves to be taken seriously. In Part (...) I, I shall present a number of objections to the argument that, for the most part, are quite well known and, I think, quite weighty. Most are descendants of objections to be found in the writings of David Hume.l Then, in Part II, I shall present the specific version of the argument I wish to offer here and, finally, in Part III, try to show that it does not succumb to the objections raised at the start. (shrink)
Ordinary people tend to be realists regarding perceptual experience, that is, they take perceiving the environment as a direct, unmediated, straightforward access to a mindindependent reality. Not so for (ordinary) philosophers. The empiricist influence on the philosophy of perception, in analytic philosophy at least, made the problem of perception synonymous with the view that realism is untenable. Admitting the problem (and trying to offer a view on it) is tantamount to rejecting ordinary people’s implicit realist assumptions as naive. So what (...) exactly is the problem? We can approach it via one of the central arguments against realism – the argumentfrom hallucination. The argument is intended as a proof that in ordinary, veridical cases of perception, perceivers do not have an unmediated perceptual access to the world. There are many versions of it; I propose the following1: 1. Hallucinations that are subjectively indistinguishable from veridical perceptions are possible. 2. If two subjective states are indistinguishable, then they have a common nature. 3. The contents of hallucinations are mental images, not concrete external objects. 4. Therefore, the contents of veridical perceptions are mental images rather than concrete external objects. The key move is, I believe, from the fact that hallucinations that are subjectively indistinguishable from cases of veridical perception are possible to an alleged common element, factor, or nature, in the form of a mental state, in the two cases – that is, premise 2. Disjunctivism, at its core, can be taken as simply denying this move, and arguing that all that follows from the premise stating the possibility of hallucinations that are subjectively indistinguishable from cases veridical perception is that there is a broader category, that of “experience as of...”, which encompasses both cases.. (shrink)
In his book Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language (Kripke 1982), Saul Kripke develops a famous argument that purports to show that there are no facts about what we mean by the expressions of our language: ascriptions of meaning, such as “Jones means addition by ‘+’” or “Smith means green by ‘green’”, are according to Kripke’s Wittgenstein neither true nor false. Kripke’s Wittgenstein thus argues for a form of non- factualism about ascriptions of meaning: ascriptions of meaning do (...) not purport to state facts.1 Define semantic realism to be the view that ascriptions of meaning are apt to be assessed in terms of truth and falsity, and are, at least in some instances, true. Semantic realism, thus defined, is a form of cognitivism about semantic judgement, according to which judgements ascribing meaning express beliefs, states apt for assessment in terms of truth and falsity. Kripke’s Wittgenstein thus argues against semantic realism, and in favour of a form of semantic non-cognitivism. However, another form of opposition to semantic realism accepts that semantic judgements express beliefs but asserts that those beliefs are systematically and uniformly false.2 This cognitivist form of opposition to semantic realism is similar to the error-theoretic form of opposition to moral realism mooted by J.L. Mackie in the first chapter of his Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (Mackie 1977). In this paper I will investigate whether there is a plausible analogue of Mackie’s “argumentfrom queerness” that can be used to make a case for an error-theory of semantic judgement. In §2 I set out what I take to be Mackie’s argumentfrom queerness against moral realism. In §3 I argue that there is no straightforward and plausible analogue of that argument that would justify an error theory about ascriptions of meaning. In §4 and §5 I defend the argument of §3 against an objection developed in a recent paper by Daniel Whiting. (shrink)
1. Introduction In ‘The Refutation of Idealism’, G.E.Moore observed that, "when we try to introspect the sensation of blue, all we can see is the blue: the other element is as if it were diaphanous" (1922; p.25). Many philosophers, but Gilbert Harman (1990, 1996) in particular, have suggested that this observation forms the basis of an argument against qualia, usually called the argumentfrom diaphanousness or transparency.1 But even its friends concede that it is none too clear (...) what the argumentfrom diaphanousness—as I will call it—is (Tye 2000; p.45).2 The purpose of this paper is to formulate the argument, and to assess its merits. My conclusion will be that qualia realists have little to fear from the argument—provided both qualia and diaphanousness are properly understood. (shrink)
The argumentfrom fine tuning is supposed to establish the existence of God from the fact that the evolution of carbon-based life requires the laws of physics and the boundary conditions of the universe to be more or less as they are. We demonstrate that this argument fails. In particular, we focus on problems associated with the role probabilities play in the argument. We show that, even granting the fine tuning of the universe, it does (...) not follow that the universe is improbable, thus no explanation of the fine tuning, theistic or otherwise, is required. (shrink)
Many people are perplexed that God (if such there be) does not make His existence more evident. For many of them, the hiddenness of God puts their faith in God to the test. Others, however, claim that God’s hiddeness is the basis of an argument against God’s existence. While this claim is no newcomer to religious reflection, it has been the focus of renewed debate since the 1990’s. In this essay, I examine J.L. Schellenberg's version of the argument (...)from divine hiddenness for atheism. (shrink)
I argue that the rationale behind the fine-tuning argument for design is self-undermining, refuting the argument’s own premise that fine-tuning is to be expected given design. In (Weisberg 2010) I argued on informal grounds that this premise is unsupported. White (2011) countered that it can be derived from three plausible assumptions. But White’s third assumption is based on a fallacious rationale, and is even objectionable by the design theorist’s own lights. The argument that shows this, the (...)argumentfrom divine indifference, simultaneously exposes the fine-tuning argument’s self-undermining character. The same argument also answers Bradley’s (forthcoming) reply to my earlier objection. (shrink)
William James' main argument in “The Will to Believe” against evidentialism is that there are facts that cannot come to be without a preliminary faith in their coming. James primarily makes this case with the argumentfrom friendship. I will critically present James' argumentfrom friendship and show that the argument does not yield a counter-example to evidentialism and is in the end unsound.
I argue that the argumentfrom zombies against physicalism is question-begging unless proponents of the argumentfrom zombies can justify the inference from the metaphysical possibility of zombies to the falsity of physicalism in an independent and non-circular way, i.e., a way that does not already assume the falsity of physicalism.
Descartes’s proof of the existence of God in the third ’Meditation’ can be interpreted as a version of the argumentfrom design. He cannot point to the marvels of nature, since all he has after the second ’Meditation’ is his ideas, but his idea of God serves as the brilliantly designed entity that he claims he cannot have authored on his own. Several passages in his replies to commentators support this interpretation, and when one considers what Descartes believed (...) he had deduced from this idea, it is understandable that he could consider it a wonderful idea. (shrink)
The Argumentfrom Disagreement (AD) (Mackie, 1977) depends upon empirical evidence for ‘fundamental’ moral disagreement (FMD) (Doris and Stich, 2005; Doris and Plakias, 2008). Research on the Southern ‘culture of honour’ (Nisbett and Cohen, 1996) has been presented as evidence for FMD between Northerners and Southerners within the US. We raise some doubts about the usefulness of such data in settling AD. We offer an alternative based on recent work in moral psychology that targets the potential universality of (...) morally significant distinctions (e.g. means vs. side-effects, actions versus omissions). More specifically, we argue that a recent study showing that a rural Mayan population fails to perceive as morally significant the distinction between actions and omissions provides a plausible case of FMD between Mayans and Westerners. (shrink)
: Kant's 'argumentfrom geometry' is usually interpreted to be a regressive transcendental argument in support of the claim that we have a pure intuition of space. In this paper I defend an alternative interpretation of this argument according to which it is rather a progressive synthetic argument meant to identify and establish the essential role of pure spatial intuition in geometric cognition. In the course of reinterpreting the 'argumentfrom geometry' I reassess (...) the arguments of the Aesthetic and illustrate the origin of Kant's view of the role of pure intuition in geometry. (shrink)
This article deals with the relationship between language and thought, focusing on the question of whether language can be a vehicle of thought, as, for example, Peter Carruthers has claimed. We develop and examine a powerful argument—the "argumentfrom explicitness"—against this cognitive role of language. The premises of the argument are just two: (1) the vehicle of thought has to be explicit, and (2) natural languages are not explicit. We explain what these simple premises mean and (...) why we should believe they are true. Finally, we argue that even though the argumentfrom explicitness shows that natural language cannot be a vehicle of thought, there is a cognitive function for language. (shrink)
In this paper we shed new light on the Argumentfrom Disagreement by putting it to test in a computer simulation. According to this argument widespread and persistent disagreement on ethical issues indicates that our moral opinions are not influenced by any moral facts, either because no such facts exist or because they are epistemically inaccessible or inefficacious for some other reason. Our simulation shows that if our moral opinions were influenced at least a little bit by (...) moral facts, we would quickly have reached consensus, even if our moral opinions were affected by factors such as false authorities, external political shifts, and random processes. Therefore, since no such consensus has been reached, the simulation gives us increased reason to take seriously the Argumentfrom Disagreement. Our conclusion is however not conclusive; the simulation also indicates what assumptions one has to make in order to reject the Argumentfrom Disagreement. The simulation algorithm we use builds on the work of Hegselmann and Krause (J Artif Soc Social Simul 5(3); 2002, J Artif Soc Social Simul 9(3), 2006). (shrink)
The compatibility question lies at the center of the free will problem. Compatibilists think that determinism is compatible with moral responsibility and the concomitant notions, while incompatibilists think that it is not. The topic of this paper is a particular form of charge against compatibilism: that it is shallow. This is not the typical sort of argument against compatibilism: most of the debate has attempted to discredit compatibilism completely. The ArgumentFrom Shallowness maintains that the compatibilists do (...) have a case. However, this case is only partial, and shallow. This limited aim proves itself more powerful against compatibilists than previous all-or-nothing attempts. It connects to the valid instincts of compatibilists, making room for them, and hence is harder for compatibilists to ignore. (shrink)
Lenman's ‘argumentfrom cluelessness’ against consequentialism is that a significant percentage of the consequences of our actions are wholly unknowable, so that when it comes to assessing the moral quality of our actions, we are without a clue. I distinguish the argumentfrom cluelessness from traditional epistemic objections to consequentialism. The argumentfrom cluelessness should be no more problematic for consequentialism than the argumentfrom epistemological scepticism should be for metaphysical realism. (...) This puts those who would reject consequentialism on the ground of cluelessness in an awkward philosophical position. (shrink)