Against the New Logical Argument from Evil

Religions 14 (2):159 (2023)
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Abstract

Jim Sterba’s Is a Good God Logically Possible? looks to resurrect J. L. Mackie’s logical argument from evil. Sterba accepts the general framework that theists seeking to give a theodicy have favored since Leibniz invented the term: the search for some greater good provided or greater evil averted that would justify God in permitting the type and variety of evil we actually observe. However, Sterba introduces a deontic twist, drawing on the Pauline Principle (let us not do evil that good may come) to introduce three deontic side constraints on God’s choice of action. He then splits the possible goods into four categories: first- vs. second-order goods, goods to which we have a right, and goods to which we do not have a right. He argues that his deontic constraints rule out each combination, thereby showing that no God-justifying good is on offer. To defuse the argument, I draw on a pair of ideas from Marilyn McCord Adams: (i) God is outside the bounds of morality, and (ii) God can defeat evils by incorporating them into an incommensurately valuable friendship with each human. Properly appreciated, these show that the new logical argument relies on a false premise that is not easily repaired.

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Daniel Rubio
Toronto Metropolitan University

Citations of this work

Theism and Secular Modality.Noah Gordon - 2023 - Dissertation, University of Southern California

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References found in this work

Horrendous evils and the goodness of God.Marilyn McCord Adams - 1989 - Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. Edited by Eleonore Stump & Michael J. Murray.
Wronging Oneself.Daniel Muñoz & Nathaniel Baron-Schmitt - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy.
God meets Satan’s Apple: the paradox of creation.Rubio Daniel - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (12):2987-3004.

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