Is All Evil Really Only Privation?

Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 75:197-209 (2001)
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It is proposed to test the privation theory of evil by examining three kinds of evil: (1) the evil of the complete destruction of some good (as distinct from the wounding of that good); (2) the evil of physical pain; and (3) certain forms of moral evil in which the evildoer is hostile to some good. It is shown that in none of these cases does evil seem to fit the privation scheme, and that in the second and third case evil seems to be in some way “more” than privation. In conclusion it is argued that to entertain such doubts about the privation theory has nothing to do with restoring a Manichean view of evil. In fact, one can entertain these doubts and still affirm that evil is parasitic on good.



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John F. Crosby
Franciscan University of Steubenville

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