Absence of Evidence and Evidence of Absence

Faith and Philosophy 24 (2):203-228 (2007)
Abstract
I defend the first premise of William Rowe’s well-known arguments from evil against influential criticisms due to William Alston. I next suggest that the central inference in Rowe’s arguments is best understood to move from the claim that we have an absence of evidence of a satisfactory theodicy to the claim that we have evidence of absence of such a theodicy. I endorse the view which holds that this move succeeds only if it is reasonable to believe that (roughly) if there were such a theodicy, we would probably know it. After conceding that there may be modest prima facie support for this latter claim via the Principle of Credulity, I consider and reject four more ambitious arguments in its favour. I conclude that this necessary condition on Rowe’s crucial inference has not been shown to be satisfied.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 0739-7046
DOI 10.5840/faithphil200724228
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