Evil and the Unknown Purpose Defense

Philo 8 (2):160-168 (2005)
In his book Nonbelief & Evil, Theodore Drange argues that theists are likely to deploy the “unknown purpose defense” in the face of the existence of apparently gratuitous evils. That is, they will assert that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting apparently gratuitous evil, but that humans do not know those reasons. Drange argues that by deploying the unknown purpose defense, and by challenging atheologians to prove that God does not have such unknown morally sufficient reasons, theists can achieve a stalemate with atheological challengers. I argue, however, that the epistemic burden of ascertaining whether God probably does or does not possess morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil falls asymmetrically on theists and atheists. Further, I argue that, given the failure of theodicies, the condition of nescience, the admission that we are in no position to assess whether God probably does or does not possess morally sufficient reasons for permitting ostensibly gratuitous evil, entails agnosticism about God’s existence. To escape agnosticism, theists will probably claim to have a warranted and properly basic belief in the existence and goodness of God. While I concede that theists may be doing their “epistemic best” in claiming such assurance, I argue that theists must concede that the existence of apparently gratuitous evil equally legitimizes nonbelief
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5840/philo20058210
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,664
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

30 ( #159,125 of 1,902,977 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #446,009 of 1,902,977 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.