The Problem of Evil and Moral Scepticism

Brice R. Wachterhauser
Saint Joseph's University of Pennsylvania
This paper argues that the logical coherence of classical theism can be defended through the traditional free-will defense and argument from divine omniscience and human finitude, but only at the cost of moral scepticism. The above two-pronged defense entails moral scepticism because it demands that we construe clear and undeniable cases of morally unjustifiable evil as merely apparently unjustifiable evils which can be morally justified from some moral point of view. The paper argues that justification is impossible because such basic evils can never be justified from any "moral" perspective. The very conditions necessary for having a moral perspective demand that one recognize certain evils as unjustifiable from any moral point of view. This is the case because moral theories are designed to give us insight into such evils. Moreover, I argue that even if one rejects the above argument, moral scepticism still follows because any intelligible account of moral knowledge requires that its proponents be able at least to point to certain cases of unjustifiable evil if their theory is to have any purchase in the real world and avoid the charge of moral irrelevance and moral scepticism. But this is precisely what the classical theist cannot do. If, however, the classical theist rejects this moral scepticism, then real cases of morally unjustifiable evil must be admitted to exist and a single one of these is sufficient to undermine the logical coherence of classical theism.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00134542
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 34,932
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

Skeptical Theism.Justin P. McBrayer - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (7):611-623.
Skepticism and the Skeptical Theist.John Beaudoin - 2005 - Faith and Philosophy 22 (1):42-56.
Pascal's Wager and the Nature of God.Greg Janzen - 2011 - Sophia 50 (3):331-344.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Necessary Evil: Justification, Excuse or Pardon? [REVIEW]Vinit Haksar - 2011 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 5 (3):333-347.
Moderate Classy Pyrrhonian Moral Scepticism.Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (232):448–456.
Non-Moral Evil and the Free Will Defense.Kenneth Boyce - 2011 - Faith and Philosophy 28 (4):371-384.
Metaethics for Everyone.Andrew Reisner - 2010 - Problema 4:39-64.
Divine Freedom and the Problem of Evil.Theodore Guleserian - 2000 - Faith and Philosophy 17 (3):348-366.
Summary of Moral Sketicisms.Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 2008 - Philosophical Books 49 (3):193-196.
Moral Monsters and Saints.Dan Haybron - 2002 - The Monist 85 (2):260-284.
Skeptical Theism and the Problem of Moral Aporia.Mark Piper - 2007 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 62 (2):65 - 79.
Non-Moral Evil.Allan Hazlett - 2012 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 36 (1):18-34.
Many Inscrutable Evils.Robert Bass - 2011 - Ars Disputandi 11:118-132.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
29 ( #212,308 of 2,272,916 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #375,951 of 2,272,916 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature