The case is discussed for the doctrine of hell as posing a unique problem of evil for adherents to the Abrahamic religions who endorse traditional theism. The problem is particularly acute for those who accept retributivist formulations of the doctrine of hell according to which hell is everlasting punishment for failing to satisfy some requirement. Alternatives to retributivism are discussed, including the unique difficulties that each one faces.
J.L. Mackie’s version of the logical problem of evil is a failure, as even he came to recognize. Contrary to current mythology, however, its failure was not established by Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense. That’s because a defense is successful only if it is not reasonable to refrain from believing any of the claims that constitute it, but it is reasonable to refrain from believing the central claim of Plantinga’s Free Will Defense, namely the claim that, possibly, every essence (...) suffers from transworld depravity. (shrink)
This essay consists of two parts. Part I offers an explanation of Berkeley's understanding of the relationship between materialism and evil. Berkeley regards materialism as the chief instrumental cause of evil in the world. It is the belief in matter that encourages us to believe that God is not immediately, intimately present in every aspect of our life. Immaterialism, by contrast, makes God's immediate presence vivid and thereby serves to undermine the motivation to vice. Part II locates Berkeley's (...) view on matter and evil within the Christian Neoplatonic tradition. I compare Plotinus' minimalist approach to matter and his identification of matter with evil to Berkeley's eliminitivism about matter and his corresponding identification of materialism as the chief source of evil. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the two most prominent recent evidential arguments from evil, due, respectively, to William Rowe and Paul Draper. I argue that neither of these evidential arguments from evil is successful, i.e. such that it ought to persuade anyone who believes in God to give up that belief. In my view, theists can rationally maintain that each of these evidential arguments from evil contains at least one false premise.
I extend my direct virtue epistemology to explain how a knowledge-first framework can account for two kinds of positive epistemic standing, one tracked by externalists, who claim that the virtuous duplicate lacks justification, the other tracked by internalists, who claim that the virtuous duplicate has justification, and moreover that such justification is not enjoyed by the vicious duplicate. It also explains what these kinds of epistemic standing have to do with each other. I argue that all justified beliefs are good (...) candidates for knowledge, and are such because they are exercises of competences to know. However, there are two importantly different senses in which a belief may be a good candidate for knowledge, one corresponding to an externalist kind of justification and the other corresponding to an internalist one. I show how the account solves the new evil demon problem in a more satisfactory way than existing accounts. We end up with a view of knowledge, justification, and rationality that is plausible, motivated, and theoretically unified. (shrink)
If there is one lesson that Hannah Arendt drew from her encounter with Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem it was that the moral and political dangers of thoughtlessness had been grossly underestimated. But while thoughtlessness clearly “has its perils”, (LMT 177) as the example of Eichmann illustrates, thoughtfulness has its own problems, as the example of Heidegger illustrates. In the course of her 1964 interview with Günter Gaus, Arendt recalls her distaste for “intellectual business” that arose from witnessing the widespread and (...) “relatively voluntary” Gleichshaltung (co-ordination) of German “intellectuals” with the Nazis in 1933 (EU: 10). This was the year that Heidegger, Arendt’s former teacher and friend, “entered the Nazi Party in a very sensational way” (EU: 187). But Heidegger is for Arendt also a paragon of thoughtfulness who exposes the “incomprehensible triviality” (or banality) of “the they” and their “mere talk” (MDT: ix). This raises the following question: how can thoughtfulness, in the guise of Heidegger, and thoughtlessness, in the guise of Eichmann, both (though to a very different extent) lead to ‘co-ordination’ with the Nazis? What does this tell us about the relation between thinking and evil? (shrink)
It has often been noted that evil – by which I mean evil in human motivation and action – is difficult to understand. We find it hard to make sense of what ‘drives’ a person to commit evil. This is not because we cannot recognise or identify with some aspect of the psychology of evil; we all experience feelings of envy, spite, cruelty, and hatred. But somehow this shared experience can seem insufficient, and we are left (...) at a loss as to how such natural, universal human motivations could have resulted in this. The aims of this paper are modest, to do no more than point in a particular direction our attempts to understand the psychology of evil. §2 is a synoptic overview of what I shall call the ‘traditional’ picture of the psychology of evil. In §3, I argue that this picture is explanatorily inadequate. §§4-6 develop the traditional picture by suggesting some resources drawn from psychoanalytic theory that can meet the explanatory challenge. My argument here is schematic, seeking only to motivate a research project. It would take a much longer exploration of these resources, providing far more psychological detail, to work out what can rightfully be called an account of the psychology of evil. §7 situates the psychology of evil in relation to ‘normal’ psychology by noting the positive functions of mental processes involved in the psychology of evil. (shrink)
Although Greek virtue theory, Kantian ethics, and utilitarianism contend that evil and moral tragedy can be avoided, my paper will argue that our recognition of their inevitability provides the only means toward taking full moral responsibility for one’s agency. It is especially tragic to observe that wrongdoing is often inescapable. An agent may have overriding moral reasons to pursue one course of action over another, and yet in making the morally best choice the individual nevertheless transgresses a moral value. (...) My paper will argue that recognizing the inevitability of evil and moral tragedy and the connection between them provides the resources for diminishing them both. Conversely, faith in the ability of reason and decency to conquer evil leads to tragedy. To deny the inevitability of evil and moral tragedy is to deny essential features of moral life. Such a denial clearly leads to an inability to respond to others in the face of evil and tragedy. The proper response to the inevitability of evil and moral tragedy is not the fabrication of an abstract moral principle that denies their existence, but inquiry into their nature. (shrink)
I examine Bernard Lonergan's approach to the problem of evil. I look to determine whether his solution, which is based on the conjugate forms of faith, hope, and charity, and culminates in a heuristic where forgiveness plays an essential role in moving beyond the problem of evil is adequate. I examine the distinction between basic sin, moral evil, and physical evil as well as his claim that from the viewpoint of the unrestricted act of understanding the (...) non-systematic vanishes. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that there is a kind of evil, namely, the unequal distribution of natural endowments, or natural inequality, which presents theists with a new evidential problem of evil. The problem of natural inequality is a new evidential problem of evil not only because, to the best of my knowledge, it has not yet been discussed in the literature, but also because available theodicies, such the free will defense and the soul-making defense, are not (...) adequate responses in the face of this particular evil, or so I argue. (shrink)
What distinguishes evils from ordinary wrongs? Is hatred a necessarily evil? Are some evils unforgivable? Are there evils we should tolerate? What can make evils hard to recognize? Are evils inevitable? How can we best respond to and live with evils? Claudia Card offers a secular theory of evil that responds to these questions and more. Evils, according to her theory, have two fundamental components. One component is reasonably foreseeable intolerable harm -- harm that makes a life indecent (...) and impossible or that makes a death indecent. The other component is culpable wrongdoing. Atrocities, such as genocides, slavery, war rape, torture, and severe child abuse, are Card's paradigms because in them these key elements are writ large. Atrocities deserve more attention than secular philosophers have so far paid them. They are distinguished from ordinary wrongs not by the psychological states of evildoers but by the seriousness of the harm that is done. Evildoers need not be sadistic:they may simply be negligent or unscrupulous in pursuing their goals. Card's theory represents a compromise between classic utilitarian and stoic alternatives (including Kant's theory of radical evil). Utilitarians tend to reduce evils to their harms; Stoics tend to reduce evils to the wickedness of perpetrators: Card accepts neither reduction. She also responds to Nietzsche's challenges about the worth of the concept of evil, and she uses her theory to argue that evils are more important than merely unjust inequalities. She applies the theory in explorations of war rape and violence against intimates. She also takes up what Primo Levi called "the gray zone", where victims become complicit in perpetrating on others evils that threaten to engulf themselves. While most past accounts of evil have focused on perpetrators, Card begins instead from the position of the victims, but then considers more generally how to respond to -- and live with -- evils, as victims, as perpetrators, and as those who have become both. (shrink)
The problem of evil is the most prominent argument against the existence of God. Skeptical theists contend that it is not a good argument. Their reasons for this contention vary widely, involving such notions as CORNEA, epistemic appearances, 'gratuitous' evils, 'levering' evidence, and the representativeness of goods. We aim to dispel some confusions about these notions, in particular by clarifying their roles within a probabilistic epistemology. In addition, we develop new responses to the problem of evil from both (...) the phenomenal conception of evidence and the knowledge-first view of evidence. (shrink)
Wang Yangming’s discussions concerning evil mainly appear in two sets of texts, i.e., Chuanxilu 传习录 (Instructions for Practical Living) and gongyi 公移 (documents transferred to vertically unrelated departments). The former addresses evil in metaphysical terms, and the latter in social terms. These subtly different approaches show the nuance between self-cultivation and governance of others.
This study examines a model involving income, the love of money, pay satisfaction, organizational commitment, job changes, and unethical behavior among 211 full-time employees in Hong Kong, China. Direct paths suggested that the love of money was related to unethical behavior, but income (money) was not. Indirect paths showed that income was negatively related to the love of money that, in turn, was negatively related to pay satisfaction that, in turn, was negatively associated with unethical behavior. Pay satisfaction was positively (...) related to organizational commitment. Thus, the love of money is the root of evil, but money is not. (shrink)
In common with traditional forms of epistemic internalism, epistemological disjunctivism attempts to incorporate an awareness condition on justification. Unlike traditional forms of internalism, however, epistemological disjunctivism rejects the so-called New Evil Genius thesis. In so far as epistemological disjunctivism rejects the New Evil Genius thesis, it is revisionary. -/- After explaining what epistemological disjunctivism is, and how it relates to traditional forms of epistemic internalism / externalism, I shall argue that the epistemological disjunctivist’s account of the intuitions underlying (...) the New Evil Genius thought experiment is at best incomplete. As presented, therefore, epistemological disjunctivism is unable to accommodate the core guiding intuitions of epistemic internalism. Given the stated aim of not being revisionary on this score, the view is at a dialectical disadvantage over the traditional forms of epistemic internalism the position is meant to replace. Unfortunately, therefore, at present, the impasse between internalism and externalism remains. (shrink)
Schiller was one of many early post-Kantians who wrestled with Kant’s doctrine of radical evil, a doctrine that continues to puzzle commentators today. Schiller’s own explanation of why we are prone to pursue happiness without restriction is, I argue, subtle and multilayered: it offers us a new genealogy of reflective agency, linking our tendency to egoism to the first emergence of reason within human beings. On the reading I defend, our drive for the absolute does not lead us directly (...) to moral autonomy; rather, it misleads us to seek the absolute in the field of our own impulses and inclinations. However, since this detour is the result of cognitive error, it involves no willful subordination of the moral law to self-love, and so nothing that bears the guilt of evil. (shrink)
Many people think that the amount of evil and suffering we observe provides important and perhaps decisive evidence against the claim that a loving God created our world. Yet almost nobody worries about the ethics of human procreation. Can these attitudes be consistently maintained? This chapter argues that the most obvious attempts to justify a positive answer fail. The upshot is not that procreation is impermissible, but rather that we should either revise our beliefs about the severity of global (...) arguments from evil or develop new and better defenses of human procreation. Although both possibilities are worthy of pursuit, this chapter focuses on the latter possibility. (shrink)
The new evil demon problem is often considered to be a serious obstacle for externalist theories of epistemic justification. In this paper, I aim to show that the new evil demon problem also afflicts the two most prominent forms of internalism: moderate internalism and historical internalism. Since virtually all internalists accept at least one of these two forms, it follows that virtually all internalists face the NEDP. My secondary thesis is that many epistemologists face a dilemma. The only (...) form of internalism that is immune to the NEDP, strong internalism, is a very radical and revisionary view – a large number of epistemologists would have to significantly revise their views about justification in order to accept it. Hence, either epistemologists must accept a theory that is susceptible to the NEDP or accept a very radical and revisionary view. (shrink)
This article is a response to Stephen Law's article ‘The evil-god challenge’. In his article, Law argues that if belief in evil-god is unreasonable, then belief in good-god is unreasonable; that the antecedent is true; and hence so is the consequent. In this article, I show that Law's affirmation of the antecedent is predicated on the problem of good (i.e. the problem of whether an all-evil, all-powerful, and all-knowing God would allow there to be as much good (...) in the world as there is), and argue that the problem of good fails. Thus, the antecedent is unmotivated, which renders the consequent unmotivated. Law's challenge for good-god theists is to show that good-god theism is not rendered unreasonable by the problem of evil in the same way that evil-god theism is rendered unreasonable by the problem of good. Insofar as the problem of good does not render belief in evil-god unreasonable, Law's challenge has been answered: since it is not unreasonable to believe in evil-god (at least for the reasons that Law gives) it is not unreasonable to believe in good-god. Finally, I show that – my criticism aside – the evil-god challenge turns out to be more complicated and controversial than it initially appears, for it relies on the (previously unacknowledged) contentious assumption that sceptical theism is false. (shrink)
Raimond Gaita's Good and Evil is one of the most important, original and provocative books on the nature of morality to have been published in recent years. It is essential reading for anyone interested in what it means to talk about good and evil. Gaita argues that questions about morality are inseparable from the preciousness of each human being, an issue we can only address if we place the idea of remorse at the centre of moral life. Drawing (...) on an astonishing range of thinkers and writers, including Plato, Wittgenstein, George Orwell and Primo Levi, Gaita also reflects on the place of reason and truth in morality and ultimately how questions about good and evil are connected to the meaning of our lives. This revised edition of Good and Evil includes a substantial new preface and afterword by the author. (shrink)
Much philosophical attention has been paid to the question of whether, and why, one may divert a runaway trolley away from where it will kill five people to where it will kill one. But little attention has been paid to whether the reasons that ground a permission to divert thereby ground a duty to divert. This paper defends the Requirement Thesis, which holds that one is, ordinarily, required to act on lesser-evil justifications for harming for the sake of others. (...) Cases in which we have lesser-evil justifications of harming for the sake of others are rescue cases. Ordinarily, an agent is under a duty to rescue unless doing so imposes too great a cost on her, or violates someone else's rights. When neither of these defeating conditions obtain, one is required to rescue even if this involves causing harm to innocent people. (shrink)
Kant begins his Lectures on Pedagogy by stating, “[t]he human being is the only creature that must be educated” (Kant, 2007, 9:441), and he argues that it is through education that we can transform our initial “animal nature into human nature” (ibid. 2007, 9:441). Kant understands education as involving an ordered process of care, discipline, instruction and formation through enculturating, civilizing and moralizing (Formosa 2011). Further, Kant envisages that we should pursue as a species the “moral perfection” that is the (...) “final destiny of the human race” through education (Collins, 1997, 27:470; see Dean, 2014). However, to engage in this pursuit Kant believes that, through education and social change, we have to regulate our “animal nature” and counter the moral corruption of our species, which he calls the “radical innate evil in human nature (not any the less brought upon us by ourselves)” (Kant, 1998, 6:32). If humanity is to pursue its final destiny of moral perfection, then education will need to respond responsibly to the propensity to evil that is deeply rooted in us as finite and imperfect rational beings living in imperfect and at times even in morally corrupted social conditions. This paper outlines some of the relevant issues. (shrink)
Four-dimensionalism and eternalism are theories on time, change, and persistence. Christian philosophers and theologians have adopted four-dimensional eternalism for various reasons. In this paper I shall attempt to argue that four-dimensional eternalism conflicts with Christian thought. Section I will lay out two varieties of four-dimensionalism—perdurantism and stage theory—along with the typically associated ontologies of time of eternalism and growing block. I shall contrast this with presentism and endurantism. Section II will look at some of the purported theological benefits of adopting (...) four-dimensionalism and eternalism. Section III will examine arguments against four-dimensional eternalism from the problem of evil. Section IV will argue that four-dimensional eternalism causes problems for Christian eschatology. (shrink)
By far the most respected response by theists to the problem of evil is some version of the free will defense, which rests on the twin ideas that God could not create humans with free will without them committing evil acts, and that freedom is of such value that it is better that we have it than that we be perfect yet unfree. If we assume that the redeemed in heaven are impeccable, then the free will defense faces (...) what I call the Heaven Dilemma: either the redeemed in heaven are free, in which case it is false that you cannot be free without doing evil, or they are not, in which case (heaven being better than earth) it is false that we are better off with freedom and evil than without either. James Sennett has tried to defend a view of freedom that effectively allows us to be impeccable in heaven so long as we are not on earth, while claiming that we are free in both. I argue that this view leads to a new dilemma: either there is no point to earth at all, and given its miseries, it is wrong for God to make us pass through it to get to heaven (especially if we face the risk of ending up in hell), or Sennett’s view consigns millions who die tragically young to an eternity of unfreedom. (shrink)
The physicist Richard Gott defends the Copernican principle, which claims that when we have no information about our position along a given dimension among a group of observers, we should consider ourselves to be randomly located among those observers in respect to that dimension. First, I apply Copernican reasoning to the distribution of evil in the universe. I then contend that evidence for intelligent extraterrestrial life strengthens four important versions of the argument from evil. I remain neutral regarding (...) whether this result is a reductio of these arguments from evil or the statement of a genuine evidential relationship. (shrink)
Natural disasters would seem to constitute evidence against the existence of God, for, on the face of things, it is mysterious why a completely good and all-powerful God would allow the sort of suffering we see from earthquakes, diseases, and the like. The skeptical theist replies that we should not expect to be able to understand God's ways, and thus we should not regard it as surprising or mysterious that God would allow natural evil. I argue that skeptical theism (...) leads to moral paralysis: accepting skeptical theism would undermine our ability to make any moral judgments whatsoever. Second, and more briefly, I argue that skeptical theism would undercut our ability to accept any form of the argument from design, including recent approaches based on fine-tuning. (shrink)
In its original form, Nozick’s experience machine serves as a potent counterexample to a simplistic form of hedonism. The pleasurable life offered by the experience machine, its seems safe to say, lacks the requisite depth that many of us find necessary to lead a genuinely worthwhile life. Among other things, the experience machine offers no opportunities to establish meaningful relationships, or to engage in long-term artistic, intellectual, or political projects that survive one’s death. This intuitive objection finds some support in (...) recent research regarding the psychological effects of phenomena such as video games or social media use. After a brief discussion of these problems, I will consider a variation of the experience machine in which many of these deficits are remedied. In particular, I’ll explore the consequences of a creating a virtual world populated with strongly intelligent AIs with whom users could interact, and that could be engineered to survive the user’s death. The presence of these agents would allow for the cultivation of morally significant relationships, and the world’s long-term persistence would help ground possibilities for a meaningful, purposeful life in a way that Nozick’s original experience machine could not. While the creation of such a world is obviously beyond the scope of current technology, it represents a natural extension of the existing virtual worlds provided by current video games, and it provides a plausible “ideal case” toward which future virtual worlds will move. While this improved experience machine would seem to represent progress over Nozick’s original, I will argue that it raises a number of new problems stemming from the fact that that the world was created to provide a maximally satisfying and meaningful life for the intended user. This, in turn, raises problems analogous in some ways to the problem(s) of evil faced by theists. In particular, I will suggest that it is precisely those features that would make a world most attractive to potential users—the fact that the AIs are genuinely moral agents whose well-being the user can significantly impact—that render its creation morally problematic, since they require that the AIs inhabiting the world be subject to unnecessary suffering. I will survey the main lines of response to the traditional problem of evil, and will argue that they are irrelevant to this modified case. I will close by considering by consider what constraints on the future creation of virtual worlds, if any, might serve to allay the concerns identified in the previous discussion. I will argue that, insofar as the creation of such worlds would allow us to meet morally valuable purposes that could not be easily met otherwise, we would be unwise to prohibit it altogether. However, if our processes of creation are to be justified, they must take account of the interests of the moral agents that would come to exist as the result of our world creation. (shrink)
The vast amount of suffering in the world is often held as a particularly powerful reason to deny that God exists. Now, one of the world's most distinguished philosophers of religion presents his own position on the problem of evil. Highly accessible and sensitively argued, Peter van Inwagen's book argues that such reasoning does not hold: his conclusion is not that God exists, but that suffering cannot be shown to prove that He does not.
This chapter argues for an interpretation of Kant's psychology of moral evil that accommodates the so-called excluded middle cases and allows for variations in the magnitude of evil. The strategy involves distinguishing Kant's transcendental psychology from his empirical psychology and arguing that Kant's character rigorism is restricted to the transcendental level. The chapter also explains how Kant's theory of moral evil accommodates 'the badass'; someone who does evil for evil's sake.
The category of metaphysical evil introduced by Leibniz appears to cast a sinister shadow over the goodness of creation. It seems to imply that creatures, simply in virtue of not being gods, are to some degree intrinsically and inescapably evil. After briefly unpacking this difficulty and outlining a recent attempt to deal with it, this paper returns to the texts to propose a novel and multilayered understanding of Leibniz’s category of metaphysical evil by reading it against the (...) backdrop of the traditional typologies of evil with which he was unquestionably familiar. It comes to the conclusion that metaphysical evil plays two key roles for Leibniz. First, it captures what Aquinas and especially Suarez meant by ‘natural evil’. Contrary to the common assumption that it is Leibniz’s category of physical evil that holds the place of natural evil, the paper shows that Leibniz’s physical evil corresponds to Augustine’s category of evil of punishment for sin whereas natural evil – intended as a kind of evil which is not related to moral responsibility -- is subsumed under metaphysical evil. Secondly, the category of metaphysical evil covers also the notion of original creaturely imperfection. In classifying creaturely limitation as a kind of evil Leibniz breaks from the Augustinian-Thomist-Scholastic tradition and its distinction between negatio and privatio. On the other hand, notwithstanding this important break, Leibniz’s notion of metaphysical evil is intended to account for something which is firmly within the broadly Augustinian-Scholastic tradition, namely the ascription to all creatures of a limitation that stems from their being created ex nihilo. Finally, the paper returns a verdict of non-guilty to the charge that Leibniz’s metaphysical evil implies that creatures qua creatures are to some extent necessarily intrinsically evil. More generally, in typical Leibnizian fashion, the notion of metaphysical evil will appear to be a complex mix of indebtedness to tradition and bending of received doctrines into something significantly different. (shrink)
The existence of evil is often held to pose philosophical problems only for theism. I argue that the existence of evil gives rise to a philosophical problem which confronts theist and atheist alike. The problem is constituted by the following claims: (1) Successful human beings trust that the actual world is good-enough; (2) the actual world is not good-enough (i.e., sufficient evil exists). It follows that (3) successful human beings maintain a state of epistemic ignorance regarding the (...) nature of the actual world. Theists resolve this problem by rejecting (2), only to confront the problem of evil as traditionally understood. Successful atheists also reject (2), but without adequate grounds for doing so. (shrink)
I try to differentiate evil from ordinary wrong-doing without succumbing to a demonic account of evilthat makes the motivation for awful actions different in kind to that for less awful ones. I argue that much - not all - evil is perpetrated by people disturbingly like the rest of us. I discuss the possibility that evil is a dangerous and self-perpetuating concept, licencing us to label people in ways that encourage atrocity. I allow that there is a (...) lot to this suggestion while also insisting that the distinction between wrong and evil is robust. I raise the possibility that evil and ordinary wrong are in some ways orthogonal, so that one act may be more wrong but less evil than another (and conversely.) I might add that my account has nothing to do with theodicy. In fact I think the traditional 'problem of evil' is a distraction from more important issues. (shrink)
At present, there is an enormous gulf between the visibility of evil and the paucity of our intellectual resources for coming to grips with it. We have been flooded with images of death camps, terrorist attacks and horrendous human suffering. Yet when we ask what we mean by radical evil and how we are to account for it, we seem to be at a loss for proper responses. Bernstein seeks to discover what we can learn about the meaning (...) of evil and human responsibility. He turns to philosophers such as Kant, who coined the expression 'radical evil', as well as to Hegel and Schelling. He also examines more recent explorations of evil, namely the thinking of Freud and Nietzsche on the moral psychology of evil. Finally, he looks at the way in which three post-Holocaust thinkers - Emmanuel Levinas, Hans Jonas, and Hannah Arendt - have sought to come to grips with evil "after Auschwitz." Bernstein's primary concern throughout this challenging book is to enrich and deepen our understanding of evil in the contemporary world, and to emphasize the vigilance and personal responsibility required for combating it. Radical Evil will be essential reading for students and scholars of philosophy, social and political theory, and religious studies. (shrink)
The Evil‐god challenge has enjoyed a flurry of attention after its resurrection in Stephen Law's, 2010 paper of the same name. Intended to undermine classical monotheism, the Evil‐god challenge rests on the claim that the existence of all‐powerful, all‐knowing, all‐evil god (Evil‐god) is roughly as likely as the existence of an all‐powerful, all‐knowing, all‐good god (Good‐god). The onus is then placed on those who believe in Good‐god to explain why their belief should be considered significantly more (...) reasonable than belief in Evil‐god. In this paper, I provide a comprehensive exposition of the Evil‐god challenge by exploring its history and recent developments. The forthcoming part II paper will present and address the main objections that have been posed to the Evil‐god challenge and consider its implications for classical monotheism. (shrink)
Moral reasoning traditionally distinguishes two types of evil:moral (ME) and natural (NE). The standard view is that ME is theproduct of human agency and so includes phenomena such as war,torture and psychological cruelty; that NE is the product ofnonhuman agency, and so includes natural disasters such asearthquakes, floods, disease and famine; and finally, that morecomplex cases are appropriately analysed as a combination of MEand NE. Recently, as a result of developments in autonomousagents in cyberspace, a new class of interesting (...) and importantexamples of hybrid evil has come to light. In this paper, it iscalled artificial evil (AE) and a case is made for considering itto complement ME and NE to produce a more adequate taxonomy. Byisolating the features that have led to the appearance of AE,cyberspace is characterised as a self-contained environment thatforms the essential component in any foundation of the emergingfield of Computer Ethics (CE). It is argued that this goes someway towards providing a methodological explanation of whycyberspace is central to so many of CE's concerns; and it isshown how notions of good and evil can be formulated incyberspace. Of considerable interest is how the propensity for anagent's action to be morally good or evil can be determined evenin the absence of biologically sentient participants and thusallows artificial agents not only to perpetrate evil (and forthat matter good) but conversely to `receive' or `suffer from'it. The thesis defended is that the notion of entropy structure,which encapsulates human value judgement concerning cyberspace ina formal mathematical definition, is sufficient to achieve thispurpose and, moreover, that the concept of AE can be determinedformally, by mathematical methods. A consequence of this approachis that the debate on whether CE should be considered unique, andhence developed as a Macroethics, may be viewed, constructively,in an alternative manner. The case is made that whilst CE issuesare not uncontroversially unique, they are sufficiently novel torender inadequate the approach of standard Macroethics such asUtilitarianism and Deontologism and hence to prompt the searchfor a robust ethical theory that can deal with them successfully.The name Information Ethics (IE) is proposed for that theory. Itis argued that the uniqueness of IE is justified by its beingnon-biologically biased and patient-oriented: IE is anEnvironmental Macroethics based on the concept of data entityrather than life. It follows that the novelty of CE issues suchas AE can be appreciated properly because IE provides a newperspective (though not vice versa). In light of the discussionprovided in this paper, it is concluded that Computer Ethics isworthy of independent study because it requires its ownapplication-specific knowledge and is capable of supporting amethodological foundation, Information Ethics. (shrink)
Is evil a distinct moral concept? Or are evil actions just very wrong actions? Some philosophers have argued that evil is a distinct moral concept. These philosophers argue that evil is qualitatively distinct from ordinary wrongdoing. Other philosophers have suggested that evil is only quantitatively distinct from ordinary wrongdoing. On this view, evil is just very wrong. In this paper I argue that evil is qualitatively distinct from ordinary wrongdoing. The first part of (...) the paper is critical. I argue that Luke Russell’s attempt to show that evil is only quantitatively distinct from ordinary wrongdoing fails. Russell’s argument fails because it is based on an implausible criterion for determining whether two concepts are qualitatively distinct. I offer a more plausible criterion and argue that based on this criterion evil and wrongdoing are qualitatively distinct. To help make my case, I sketch a theory of evil which makes a genuinely qualitative distinction between evil and wrongdoing. I argue that we cannot characterize evil as just very wrong on plausible conceptions of evil and wrongdoing. I focus on act-consequentialist, Kantian, and contractarian conceptions of wrongdoing. (shrink)
This paper aims for a more robust epistemological disjunctivism (ED) by offering on its behalf a new and better response to the ‘new evil genius’ problem. The first section articulates the ‘new evil genius challenge’ (NEG challenge) to ED, specifying its two components: the ‘first-order’ and ‘diagnostic’ problems for ED. The first-order problem challenges proponents of ED to offer some explanation of the intuition behind the thought that your radically deceived duplicate is no less justified than you are (...) for adopting her perceptual beliefs. In the second section, I argue that 'blamelessness' explanations are inadequate to the task and offer better explanations in their place—that of ‘trait-level virtue’ and ‘reasonability’. The diagnostic problem challenges proponents of ED to explain why it is that classical internalists disagree with them about how to interpret 'new evil genius' considerations. The proponent of ED owes some error theory. I tackle this problem in the third section, arguing that classical internalists overlook disjunctivist interpretations of new evil genius intuitions owing to a mistaken commitment to a ‘vindicatory’ explanation of perceptual knowledge. (shrink)
Typically, philosophers interested in evil have typically been concerned with reconciling (or not) the apparent existence of gratuitous suffering with the existence of an omnipotent and omniscient and supremely loving and caring Deity. Undeniably, ‘evil’ functions as a mass noun: note the intelligibility of asking “Why is there so much evil in the world?” But ‘evil’ sometimes functions as an adjective and is used variously to describe persons, actions, desires, motives, and intentions; Joel Feinberg even speaks (...) of “evil smells.” In what follows, I shall consider the relationship between evil actions, evildoers—that is, persons disposed to perform evil actions—and evil people. Roughly, I defend the simple thesis that being an evil person just is being an evildoer. (shrink)
The problem of evil -- Aquinas, philosophy, and theology -- What there is -- Goodness and badness -- God the creator -- God's perfection and goodness -- The creator and evil -- Providence and grace -- The trinity and Christ -- Aquinas on god and evil.
Abstract: Giorgio Agamben's recent works have been preoccupied with a certain obscure passage from St. Paul's 'Second Epistle to the Thessalonians,' which describes the portentous events that must occur before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ can take place---specifically, the appearance of a 'man of lawlessness' (the Antichrist?) and the exposure of who or what is currently restraining the 'man of lawlessness' from being exposed as the Antichrist: a mysterious agency called the 'katechon.' In 'The Mystery of Evil: Benedict (...) XVI and the End of Days,' this obscure passage is connected with the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI through certain equally obscure references to the fourth century theologian, Tyconius, although the precise connection between these apocalyptic events and their mysterious agents remains obscure. This review attempts to shed some critical light upon this cryptic subject, both by considering the world-historical context of St. Paul's epistle, and by asking what role these apocalyptic figures play in Agamben's political theology. But, to begin with, the review also asks: Who, really, is the Antichrist? a scarcely rhetorical question that demands a sardonic answer. Although various candidates from contemporary politics are proposed, the review finally argues that the Antichrist and the katechon are not specific individuals or worldly institutions, but rather refer to world-historical trends within Western European Christian civilization itself that have resulted in what Friedrich Nietzsche called 'the devaluation of all higher values' and 'the desecration of the Christian moral world-view': an apocalyptic turn of events which Nietzsche equally sardonically referred to in 'The Antichrist.'. (shrink)
Daniel Kodaj has recently developed a pro-atheistic argument that he calls “the problem of religious evil.” This first premise of this argument is “belief in God causes evil.” Although this idea that belief in God causes evil is widely accepted, certainly in the secular West, it is sufficiently problematic as to be unsuitable as a basis for an argument for atheism, as Kodaj seeks to use it. In this paper I shall highlight the problems inherent in it (...) in three ways: by considering whether it is reasonable to say that “belief in God” causes evil; whether it is reasonable to say that belief in God “causes” evil; and whether it is reasonable to say that belief in God causes “evil.” In each case I will argue that it is problematic to make such claims, and accordingly I will conclude that the premise “belief in God causes evil” is unacceptable as it stands, and consequently is unable to ground Kodaj’s pro-atheistic argument. (shrink)
Is evil evidence against the existence of God? Even if God and evil are compatible, it remains hotly contested whether evil renders belief in God unreasonable. The Evidential Argument from Evil presents five classic statements on this issue by eminent philosophers and theologians and places them in dialogue with eleven original essays reflecting new thinking by these and other scholars. The volume focuses on two versions of the argument. The first affirms that there is no reason (...) for God to permit either certain specific horrors or the variety and profusion of undeserved suffering. The second asserts that pleasure and pain, given their biological role, are better explained by hypotheses other than theism. -/- Contributors include William P. Alston, Paul Draper, Richard M. Gale, Daniel Howard-Snyder, Alvin Plantinga, William L. Rowe, Bruce Russell, Eleonore Stump, Richard G. Swinburne, Peter van Inwagen, and Stephen John Wykstra. (shrink)
I formulate and defend a version of the many universes (or multiverse) reply to the atheistic argument from evil. Specifically, I argue that (i) if we know that any argument from evil (be it a logical or evidential argument) is sound, then we know that God would be (or at least probably would be) unjustified in actualizing our universe. I then argue that (ii) there might be a multiverse and (iii) if so, then we do not know that (...) God would be (or at least probably would be) unjustified in actualizing our universe. It follows that we cannot know that the atheistic argument from evil is sound, in which case we cannot be certain that the argument succeeds, and so it is rational to refuse to reject theism because of such arguments. (shrink)
Stewart Cohen’s New Evil Demon argument raises familiar and widely discussed concerns for reliabilist accounts of epistemic justification. A now standard response to this argument, initiated by Alvin Goldman and Ernest Sosa, involves distinguishing different notions of justification. Juan Comesaña has recently and prominently claimed that his Indexical Reliabilism (IR) offers a novel solution in this tradition. We argue, however, that Comesaña’s proposal suffers serious difficulties from the perspective of the philosophy of language. More specifically, we show that the (...) two readings of sentences involving the word ‘justified’ which are required for Comesaña’s solution to the problem are not recoverable within the two-dimensional framework of Robert Stalnaker to which he appeals. We then consider, and reject, an attempt to overcome this difficulty by appeal to a complication of the theory involving counterfactuals, and conclude the paper by sketching our own preferred solution to Cohen’s New Evil Demon. (shrink)
It is widely agreed that the ‘Logical’ Argument from Evil (LAFE) is bankrupt. We aim to rehabilitate the LAFE, in the form of what we call the Normatively Relativised Logical Argument from Evil (NRLAFE). There are many different versions of a NRLAFE. We aim to show that one version, what we call the ‘right relationship’ NRLAFE, poses a significant threat to personal-omniGod-theism—understood as requiring the belief that there is an omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good person who has created our (...) world—because it appeals to value commitments theists themselves are likely to endorse. The ultimate success of this NRLAFE will rest on developing a theological ethics of right relationship that rejects as morally flawed the exercise of omnipotence first to sustain horrors and then to redeem them. Yet a vindicated NRLAFE of this sort need not require atheism, but only rejection of the standard conception of God as a personal omniGod. (shrink)