In a recent contribution to this journal William Hasker rejects the idea, long a staple in philosophical debates over God and evil, that the existence of gratuitous evil is inconsistent with the existence of God. Among his arguments are three to show that God and gratuitous natural evil are not mutually inconsistent. I will show that none of those arguments succeeds. Then, very briefly, and as a byproduct of showing this, I will sketch out how a potentially vexing form of (...) the problem of God and natural evil is facilitated by Hasker’s distinction between types of gratuitous natural evil. (shrink)
The Cambridge Companion to Socrates is a collection of essays that provides a comprehensive guide to Socrates, the most famous Greek philosopher a comprehensive guide to Socrates, the most famous Greek philosopher. Because Socrates himself wrote nothing, our evidence comes from the writings of his friends , his enemies, and later writers. Socrates is thus a literary figure as well as a historical person. Both aspects of Socrates' legacy are covered in this volume.Socrates' character is full of paradox, and so (...) are his philosophical views. These paradoxes have led to deep differences in scholars' interpretations of Socrates and his thought. Mirroring this wide range of thought about Socrates, this volume's contributors are unusually diverse in their background and perspective. The chapters in this volume were authored by classical philologists, philosophers, and historians from Germany, Francophone Canada, Britain, and the United States, and they represent a range of interpretive and philosophical traditions. (shrink)
What makes a morally right action morally right and a morally wrong action morally wrong? For clarity's sake, let us divide the question. First, what makes a particular action the morally right action in some situation, that is, what makes it morally obligatory? Second, what makes a particular action a morally right action in some situation, that is, what makes it morally permissible? And third, what makes a morally wrong action morally wrong in some situation?
A surprising range of scholars return to the works of Aristotle as a source of fresh perspectives on their disciplines. Furthering that aim, an eclectic group of classicists and political scientists discusses the importance of Aristotle's political and ethical writings—for example, the _Poetics_, the _Rhetoric_, the _Politics_, and ethical and historical treatises—to contemporary approaches in political and social science. The collection examines underlying concepts such as production, race, class, and gender, as well as more traditional Aristotelian topics such as justice, (...) monarchy and democracy, and the relationship between law and constitution. Emphasizing contemporary relevance and following Aristotle himself, this volume proceeds on the premise that the human sciences do not seek simply to increase knowledge but rather to benefit human life. (shrink)
The problem of skepticism is the fundamental epistemological problem Descartes addresses. He introduces three forms of it, each embedded in a possible error-scenario. The first possibility is that, since my sense perception is sometimes misperception, my sensory experience in any given case may not reflect how things are outside my experience. The second possibility is that maybe I am dreaming when I think I am awake. And the third possibility is that maybe I am deceived in all my ideas and (...) beliefs by a powerful demon. The third is the most radical, far-reaching, and potent of the error-scenarios Descartes discusses. Unlike the first two, it threatens knowledge of all kinds. So, if Descartes is to defeat skepticism in a fundamental and comprehensive way, he must eliminate that possible scenario. (shrink)
A proposition that theism has traditionally tried to establish, as part of its general effort to reconcile the existence of God and that of evil in the (supposedly God-made) world, is the following; that natural evil is logically a precondition of freedom of choice. Often the approach to this task has been through the free will defense. In my paper I argue that the standard formulation of that defense will not succeed in the specific task mentioned, and propose a variation (...) upon the standard formulation. Then I try to defend the variation against some powerful objections. (shrink)
In his recent book, The Existence of God , Richard Swinburne argues that the world as we find it is one that a good and omnipotent God would have good reason to bring about. He does not claim to demonstrate, that is, deductively to prove, that the world is God–made but rather to show that the proposition that God exists and made the world is more likely to be true and hence more reasonable to believe, all things considered, than its (...) negation. He recognizes that in order to sustain this position he has to justify the existence of evil, especially natural evil, or at least to reconcile both the existence and enormous quantity of such evil with the claim that God exists. In fact, however, Swinburne aims beyond mere reconciliation to the point that the existence and nature of the world confirm the claim that God made it. (shrink)
In this important new book, David O'Connor discusses both logical and empirical forms of the problem of inscrutable evil, perennially the most difficult philosophical problem confronting theism. Arguing that both a version of theism and a version of atheism are justified on the evidence in the debate over God and evil, O'Connor concludes that a warranted outcome is a philosophical dètente between those two positions. On the way to that conclusion he develops two arguments from evil, a reformed version of (...) the logical argument and an indirect version of the empirical argument, and deploys both against a central formulation of theism that he describes as orthodox theism. God and Inscrutable Evil makes a valuable contribution to contemporary debates in the philosophy of religion. (shrink)
I test the ability of Plantinga's free-will defense of theism against logical arguments from evil to defend the version of the theory I call orthodox Christian theism against a reformed logical argument from evil. I conclude that his defense fails in that task.
At least since Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion , theism has been under indictment; indeed it has been on trial for its life. In part, this indictment is that the enormous quantity, variety, and distribution of evils evident in the natural world disconfirm the core beliefs of theism. Those core beliefs, I think, are the following pair: there exists a being at once omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, the worshipful creator of the universe ; and G stands in a relation to (...) the natural world which might be called one of moral responsibility . Obviously, theism says a lot more than the above, rather abrupt, conjunction; nevertheless, that conjunction constitutes its core. (shrink)
“Orthodox theism” is “the cognitive core” of mainstream religious belief in the Abrahamic tradition, according to which God is the omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good designer, creator, and sustainer of the world, who made us so that we might develop into morally mature agents capable of choosing freely to love God, on the basis of which we will be judged and our eternal destinies determined. O’Connor aims to pose a problem for this view, namely, that given the “standard assumption” governing (...) discussion of God and evil since Hume, a certain fact about natural evil that results solely from natural processes constitutes good reason to think that OT is false. The standard assumption is that we can compare by way of thought experiment how things are with how they would be if there were a God and with how they would be if there were no God, and thereby, we can, in principle, ground a justified verdict about whether God exists. The fact in question is that it seems that, necessarily, NERNP is gratuitous. Since God and gratuitous evil are incompatible, it follows that we have fairly strong prima facie reason to think that there is NERNP that is incompatible with God, and consequently that OT is false. (shrink)
In 1942, replying to a criticism put to him by Langford, G. E. Moore confessed that he was unable to solve the paradox of analysis. But while conceding inability to solve the puzzle Moore offered the following suggestion, which he did not further develop: I think that, in order to explain the fact that, even if ‘To be a brother is the same thing as to be a male sibling’ is true, yet nevertheless this statement is not the same as (...) the statement ‘To be a brother is to be a brother’, one must suppose that both statements are in some sense about the expressions used as well as about the concept of being a brother. But in what sense they are about the expressions used I cannot see clearly; and therefore I cannot give any clear solution to the puzzle. (shrink)
Although vast and complex, the universe is orderly in many ways, and conditions at its beginning were right for the eventual evolution of life on this planet. But with life there is death, and with sentient life there is great pain and suffering, often with no apparent justification or purpose. Taking these things together, is it reasonable to conclude that the universe was brought about by God? Moreover, does the magnitude of seemingly pointless suffering square with the idea that God (...) exists, or is it good reason to think there is no God? These questions come up for many people, not just religious believers, and are examined in this engaging and thought-provoking book. Starting out with no pre-disposition to theism, atheism, or agnosticism, God, Evil, and Design takes up these questions in order to see where an impartial investigation leads. To achieve impartiality, the reader is invited to simulate ignorance insofar as his or her own religious preference is concerned. With this approach, God, Evil, and Design provides both a fresh look at important and controversial issues in philosophy and an excellent introduction to the contemporary debates surrounding them. Lively and non-technical, this book will be accessible to anyone with an interest in these topics. (shrink)