A compelling look at the problem of evil in modern thought, from the Inquisition to global terrorism Evil threatens human reason, for it challenges our hope that the world makes sense. For eighteenth-century Europeans, the Lisbon earthquake was manifest evil. Today we view evil as a matter of human cruelty, and Auschwitz as its extreme incarnation. Examining our understanding of evil from the Inquisition to contemporary terrorism, Susan Neiman explores who we have become in the (...) three centuries that separate us from the early Enlightenment. In the process, she rewrites the history of modern thought and points philosophy back to the questions that originally animated it. Whether expressed in theological or secular terms, evil poses a problem about the world's intelligibility. It confronts philosophy with fundamental questions: Can there be meaning in a world where innocents suffer? Can belief in divine power or human progress survive a cataloging of evil? Is evil profound or banal? Neiman argues that these questions impelled modern philosophy. Traditional philosophers from Leibniz to Hegel sought to defend the Creator of a world containing evil. Inevitably, their efforts—combined with those of more literary figures like Pope, Voltaire, and the Marquis de Sade—eroded belief in God's benevolence, power, and relevance, until Nietzsche claimed He had been murdered. They also yielded the distinction between natural and moral evil that we now take for granted. Neiman turns to consider philosophy's response to the Holocaust as a final moral evil, concluding that two basic stances run through modern thought. One, from Rousseau to Arendt, insists that morality demands we make evil intelligible. The other, from Voltaire to Adorno, insists that morality demands that we don't. Beautifully written and thoroughly engaging, this book tells the history of modern philosophy as an attempt to come to terms with evil. It reintroduces philosophy to anyone interested in questions of life and death, good and evil, suffering and sense. Featuring a substantial new afterword by Neiman that raises provocative questions about Hannah Arendt's take on Adolf Eichmann and the rationale behind the Hiroshima bombing, this Princeton Classics edition introduces a new generation of readers to this eloquent and thought-provoking meditation on good and evil, life and death, and suffering and sense. (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 the product of human agency and so includes phenomena such as war,torture and psychological cruelty; that NE is the product of nonhuman agency, and so includes natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, disease and famine; and finally, that more complex cases are appropriately analysed as a combination of ME and NE. Recently, as a result of developments in autonomous agents in (...) cyberspace, a new class of interesting and important examples of hybrid evil has come to light. In this paper, it is called artificial evil (AE) and a case is made for considering it to complement ME and NE to produce a more adequate taxonomy. By isolating the features that have led to the appearance of AE, cyberspace is characterised as a self-contained environment that forms the essential component in any foundation of the emerging field of Computer Ethics (CE). It is argued that this goes someway towards providing a methodological explanation of why cyberspace is central to so many of CE's concerns; and it is shown how notions of good and evil can be formulated in cyberspace. Of considerable interest is how the propensity for an agent's action to be morally good or evil can be determined even in the absence of biologically sentient participants and thus allows artificial agents not only to perpetrate evil (and fort that 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 in a formal mathematical definition, is sufficient to achieve this purpose and, moreover, that the concept of AE can be determined formally, by mathematical methods. A consequence of this approach is that the debate on whether CE should be considered unique, and hence developed as a Macroethics, may be viewed, constructively,in an alternative manner. The case is made that whilst CE issues are not uncontroversially unique, they are sufficiently novel to render inadequate the approach of standard Macroethics such as Utilitarianism and Deontologism and hence to prompt the search for 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 being non-biologically biased and patient-oriented: IE is an Environmental Macroethics based on the concept of data entity rather than life. It follows that the novelty of CE issues such as AE can be appreciated properly because IE provides a new perspective (though not vice versa). In light of the discussion provided in this paper, it is concluded that Computer Ethics is worthy of independent study because it requires its own application-specific knowledge and is capable of supporting a methodological foundation, Information Ethics. (shrink)
When discussing the problem of evil, philosophers often distinguish between physical evil (harm caused within the natural world such as natural disasters, disease, and the like), and moral evil (harm caused by human agency). Mapping this traditional distinction is mapped onto the third section of Fichte’s The Vocation of Man would at first seem fairly straightforward: for Fichte, evil arising from nature occurs through “blind mechanism” and is unfree; in contrast, evil done by human beings (...) arises out of free agency. The answer may be more complicated, however, in two different ways. First, Fichte holds that nature is to be cultivated and controlled by human beings so that it is no longer a source of harm; this may imply that the continuing harm done by nature is the result of humans’ failure to have sufficiently tamed nature. In that case, some of the harm caused by nature may be attributable to free human causality and thus no longer be a clearcut instance of natural evil. Second, Fichte repeatedly states that those who fail to act morally and who fail to conform their wills to the moral law are still be in the power of the mechanisms of nature. Even though we must think of them as free, Fichte compares their actions to the operation of nature and its mechanism of necessity. By presenting a careful and nuanced Fichtean account of the traditional distinction between physical and moral evil, we can better appreciate how Fichte understood the meaning and scope of human responsibility. (shrink)
Asking, How could they do it? about the many ordinary people who have been perpetrators and those who resist extensive evils – genocide, human trafficking, endemic sexualized violations of females, economic exploitation -- the book delves into historic, contemporary, national, and international examples. The author, a moral philosopher, draws also on literature, psychology, economics, journalism, pop culture. Reversing Arendt’s banality of evil, she finds that mind-deadening banality, thoughtless conventionality, ambition, greed, status-seeking enable the evil of banality.
Chapter 1 addresses some preliminary issues that it is important to think about in formulating arguments from evil. Chapter 2 is then concerned with the question of how an incompatibility argument from evil is best formulated, and with possible responses to such arguments. Chapter 3 then focuses on skeptical theism, and on the work that skeptical theists need to do if they are to defend their claim of having defeated incompatibility versions of the argument from evil. Finally, (...) Chapter 4 discusses evidential arguments from evil, and four different kinds of evidential argument are set out and critically examined. (shrink)
Several authors have maintained that every argument in support of God, indeed everything that a theist claims about God, can be reversed and used in support of an evil god. The most salient example is the alleged symmetry between theodicies and reverse theodicies: God gave us free will to promote good, evil god gave us free will to promote evil; God allows evil for soul making, evil god allows good for soul destruction; our suffering is (...) compensated for by the eternal bliss in the afterlife, our happiness is compensated for by the eternal damnation in the afterlife. Considering such symmetries, it is argued that there is no reason to think that the existence of God is more plausible than the existence of an evil god. The foregoing reasoning is known as the evil god challenge. The challenge is to explain why the God hypothesis should be considerably more reasonable than the evil god hypothesis. In this paper, I take up the challenge on behalf of theism. I indicate damaging asymmetries between an evil god and a good god, and between theodicies and reverse theodicies, showing that the existence of a good god is considerably more plausible than the existence of an evil god. (shrink)
The way in which mainstream human rights discourse speaks of such evils as the Holocaust, slavery, or apartheid puts them solidly in the past. Its elaborate techniques of "transitional" justice encourage future generations to move forward by creating a false assumption of closure, enabling those who are guilty to elude responsibility. This approach to history, common to late-twentieth-century humanitarianism, doesn't presuppose that evil ends when justice begins. Rather, it assumes that a time _before_ justice is the moment to put (...)evil in the past. Merging examples from literature and history, Robert Meister confronts the problem of closure and the resolution of historical injustice. He boldly challenges the empty moral logic of "never again" or the theoretical reduction of evil to a cycle of violence and counterviolence, broken only once evil is remembered for what it _was_. Meister criticizes such methods for their deferral of justice and susceptibility to exploitation and elaborates the flawed moral logic of "never again" in relation to Auschwitz and its evolution into a twenty-first-century doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect. (shrink)
Kant's doctrine of the radical evil in human nature invites at least two serious worries: first, it is unclear how Kant could establish the claim that all human beings adopt an evil maxim; second, this claim seems to conflict with central features of Kant's doctrine of freedom. I argue, via criticisms of various charitable interpretations, that these problems are indeed insuperable if we read Kant as trying to establish that all human beings are evil as a matter (...) of fact. I then develop an alternative reading that avoids these problems. On my reading, Kant transforms the complaint that humans are evil into a prescriptive regulative principle. Although we cannot know whether all human beings really are evil, we ought to presuppose “inextirpable” human evil in the context of moral “ascetic”, the practical field that answers to the duty of moral self-perfection and that aims at the development of virtue. (shrink)
_Providence, Evil and the Openness of God_ is a timely exploration of the philosophical implications of the rapidly-growing theological movement known as open theism, or the 'openness of God'. William Hasker, one of the philosophers prominently associated with this movement, presents the strengths of this position in comparison with its main competitors: Calvinism, process theism, and the theory of divine middle knowledge, or Molinism. The author develops alternative approaches to the problem of evil and to the problem of (...) divine action in the world. In particular, he argues that believers should not maintain the view that each and every evil that occurs is permitted by God as a means to a 'greater good'. He contends that open theism makes possible an emphasis on the personalism of divine-human interaction in a way that traditional views, with their heavy emphasis on divine control, cannot easily match. The book concludes with a section of replies to critics, in which many of the objections levelled against open theism are addressed. (shrink)
In this contribution to philosophical ethics, Claudia Card revisits the theory of evil developed in her earlier book The Atrocity Paradigm, and expands it to consider collectively perpetrated and collectively suffered atrocities. Redefining evil as a secular concept and focusing on the inexcusability - rather than the culpability - of atrocities, Card examines the tension between responding to evils and preserving humanitarian values. This stimulating and often provocative book contends that understanding the evils in terrorism, torture and genocide (...) enables us to recognise similar evils in everyday life: daily life under oppressive regimes and in racist environments; violence against women, including in the home; violence and executions in prisons; hate crimes; and violence against animals. Card analyses torture, terrorism and genocide in the light of recent atrocities, considering whether there can be moral justifications for terrorism and torture, and providing conceptual tools to distinguish genocide from non-genocidal mass slaughter. (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)
Evil, Political Violence and Forgiveness: Essays in Honor of Claudia Card is a collection of new philosophical essays written in tribute to Claudia Card, exploring her leading theory of evil and other theories of evil. The collection brings together an international cohort of distinguished moral and political philosophers who mediate with Card upon an array of twentieth-century atrocities and on the nature of evil actions, persons and institutions.
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)
Lawrie Reznek addresses these questions and more in his controversial investigation of the insanity defense in _Evil or Ill_? Drawing from countless intriguing case examples, he aims to understand the concept of an excuse, and explains why the law excuses certain actions and not others. In his easily accessible and elegant style, he explains that in law, there exists two excuses derived from Aristotle: the excuses of ignorance and compulsion. Reznek, however proposes a third excuse - the excuse of character (...) change. In introducing this third excuse, Reznek raises a controversial possibility - the abolition of the insanity defence. (shrink)
Sometimes one can prevent harm only by contravening rights. If the harm one can prevent is great enough, compared to the stringency of the opposing rights, then one has a lesser-evil justification to contravene the rights. Non-consequentialist orthodoxy holds that, most of the time, lesser-evil justifications add to agents’ permissible options without taking any away. Helen Frowe rejects this view. She claims that, almost always, agents must act on their lesser-evil justifications. Our primary task is to refute (...) Frowe’s flagship argument. Secondarily, it is to sketch a positive case for nonconsequentialist orthodoxy. (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)
Evil is a poorly understood phenomenon. In this provocative 2005 book, Professor Vetlesen argues that to do evil is to intentionally inflict pain on another human being, against his or her will, and causing serious and foreseeable harm. Vetlesen investigates why and in what sort of circumstances such a desire arises, and how it is channeled, or exploited, into collective evildoing. He argues that such evildoing, pitting whole groups against each other, springs from a combination of character, situation, (...) and social structure. By combining a philosophical approach inspired by Hannah Arendt, a psychological approach inspired by C. Fred Alford and a sociological approach inspired by Zygmunt Bauman, and bringing these to bear on the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, Vetlesen shows how closely perpetrators, victims, and bystanders interact, and how aspects of human agency are recognized, denied, and projected by different agents. (shrink)
Stephen Law developed a challenge to theism, known as the evil-god challenge (Law () ). The evil-god challenge to theism is to explain why the theist’s responses to the problem of evil are any better than the diabolist’s – who believes in a supremely evil god – rejoinders to the problem of good, when all the theist’s ploys (theodicy, sceptical theism, etc.) can be parodied by the diabolist. In the first part of this article, I extend (...) the evil-god challenge by showing that additional theist replies to the problem of evil (more theodicies, the privation view of evil, and others) also may be appropriated, with just as much plausibility, in support of the diabolist position. In the second part of the article, I defend the evil-god challenge against several objections. (shrink)
Throughout his writings, and particularly in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, Kant alludes to the idea that evil is connected to self-deceit, and while numerous commentators regard this as a highly attractive thesis, none have seriously explored it. Kant on Evil, Self-Deception, and Moral Reform addresses this crucial element of Kant's ethical theory. -/- Working with both Kant's core texts on ethics and materials less often cited within scholarship on Kant's practical philosophy (such as Kant's logic (...) lectures), Papish explores the cognitive dimensions of Kant's accounts of evil and moral reform while engaging the most influential -- and often scathing -- of Kant's critics. Her book asks what self-deception is for Kant, why and how it is connected to evil, and how we achieve the self-knowledge that should take the place of self-deceit. (shrink)
This paper takes a less trodden path in its approach to Kant’s philosophy of religion. Rather than a detailed study of his mature works on the subject, some of his pre-Critical works are examined. These reveal what I hold to be four foundations which remain unchanged through Kant’s philosophical career and thus act to hold up his later work on the subject. The main body of the paper is presented in two parts. In the first, we see that Kant finds (...) that in addition to evil as limitation, there is now evil which is ontologically positive. The second part is devoted to Kant’s considerations of what was termed “physical evil”. He finds that this is neither an evil nor any form of divine punishment but rather those consequences of the laws of nature which are harmful to humans. Further, God does not intervene with the workings of these laws of nature which He has put in place but guarantees their continuity. However, it will be shown that such non-interference is problematic for Kant’s mature stance on miracles. (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)
The De Malo represents some of Aquinas' most mature thinking on goodness, badness, and human agency. In it he examines the full range of questions associated with evil: its origin, its nature, its relation to good, and its compatibility with the existence of an omnipotent, benevolent God. This edition offers Richard Regan's new, clear readable English translation, based on the Leonine Commission's authoritative edition of the Latin text. Brian Davies has provided an extensive introduction and notes..
Beyond Good and Evil is one of the most scathing and powerful critiques of philosophy, religion, science, politics and ethics ever written. In it, Nietzsche presents a set of problems, criticisms and philosophical challenges that continue both to inspire and to trouble contemporary thought. In addition, he offers his most subtle, detailed and sophisticated account of the virtues, ideas, and practices which will characterize philosophy and philosophers of the future. With his relentlessly energetic style and tirelessly probing manner, Nietzsche (...) embodies the type of thought he wants to foster, while defining its historical role and determining its agenda. This edition offers a new and readable translation, by Judith Norman, of one of the most influential texts in the history of philosophy, together with an introduction by Rolf-Peter Horstmann that sets it in its historical and philosophical context. (shrink)
The concept of evil is one of the most powerful in our moral vocabulary, and is commonly used today in both religious and secular spheres to condemn ideas, people, their actions, and much else besides. Yet appeals to evil in public debate have often deepened existing conflicts, through corruption of rational discourse and demonization of the other. With its religious overtones and implied absolutism, the concept of evil seems ill-suited to advancing public discourse and pro-social relations in (...) a liberal democracy, as evidenced by its use in the abortion debate. International relations have also suffered from references to an ¿axis of evil.¿ Recently, however, philosophers have begun reconceptualising evil within a secular, moral framework, using the idea of evil as the worst kind of immorality to inform and shape our responses to issues like torture, genocide and rape as a weapon of war. This book continues this trend, exploring a constructive role for the concept of evil in practical ethics. Part I of the book begins with two examinations of the concept itself, one focusing primarily on its secular manifestations and the other on evil in its religious context. Individuals are perhaps the primary focus of attributions of evil, and Part II looks at two particular manifestations of evil, in bullying and in mass killing, before considering the nature of evil as an immoral character trait. Part III moves beyond the individual to issues of collective evildoing, evil environments, and political evil. The final part considers responses to evil: can some evil be unforgiveable, and to what extent should we ¿enhance¿ ourselves morally so as to prevent future evildoing? These essays, written by leading philosophers from around the world, including the late Claudia Card, will take the philosophical debate on moral evil in practical ethics to a new level. (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)
Aristotle's notion of evil is highly elaborate and attractive, yet has been largely overlooked by philosophers. While most recent studies of evil focus on modern understandings of the concept, this volume shows that Aristotle's theory is an invaluable resource for our contemporary understanding of it. Twelve leading scholars reconstruct the account of evil latent in Aristotle's metaphysics, biology, psychology, ethics, and politics, and detect Aristotelian patterns of thought that operate at certain landmark moments in the history of (...) philosophy from ancient thought to modern day debates. The book pays particular attention to Aristotle's understanding of 'radical evil', an important and much disputed topic. Original and systematic, this study is the first to provide a full exploration of evil in Aristotle's work, shedding light on its content, potential, and influence. The volume will appeal to scholars of ancient Greek philosophy as well as to moral philosophers and to historians of philosophy. (shrink)
Providence, Evil and the Openness of God is a timely exploration of the philosophical implications of the rapidly-growing theological movement known as open theism, or the 'openness of God'. William Hasker, one of the philosophers prominently associated with this movement, presents the strengths of this position in comparison with its main competitors: Calvinism, process theism, and the theory of divine middle knowledge, or Molinism. The author develops alternative approaches to the problem of evil and to the problem of (...) divine action in the world. In particular, he argues that believers should not maintain the view that each and every evil that occurs is permitted by God as a means to a 'greater good'. He contends that open theism makes possible an emphasis on the personalism of divine-human interaction in a way that traditional views, with their heavy emphasis on divine control, cannot easily match. The book concludes with a section of replies to critics, in which many of the objections levelled against open theism are addressed. (shrink)
Since 2001, Continental philosophical studies of evil suggest that we are forced to rethink the category of evil as we face acts of terrorism on a global scale. In light of this suggestion, this paper traces the idea of the “inscrutability of evil” as a common lens through which we associate the category of evil with the phenomena we identify as evil. This idea finds its first modern formulation in Kant’s theory of radical evil. (...) In this article, I argue that Hannah Arendt and Emmanuel Levinas follow Kant in identifying evil as an inscrutable phenomenon. While they all agree that evil cannot be rationalized, integrated into reason, or understood within the framework of theodicy, for Kant, evil is inscrutable because it is grounded in freedom; for Arendt, evil is inscrutable because it is “banal;” and for Levinas, evil is inscrutable because it is “excessive” and “useless.” My analysis demonstrates that inscrutability is an essential marker of the concept of evil since it is found in all three accounts as a feature of evil, even though in each account a different type of evil is at stake (moral, political, and existential). (shrink)
The Evil‐god challenge attempts to undermine classical monotheism by arguing that because the existence of an evil god is similar in reasonableness to the existence of a good god, the onus is on the theist to justify their belief in the latter over the former. In the Part I paper, I defined the Evil‐god challenge, distinguished between several types of Evil‐god challenge, and presented its history and recent developments. In this paper, I describe the merits of (...) the challenge, outline and address the main objections that have been posed to it, and discuss some of the implications for classical monotheism if the Evil‐god challenge remains untarnished by objections. (shrink)
I argue that the atheological claim that the existence of pain and suffering either contradicts or makes improbable God's existence or his possession of certain critical properties cannot be sustained. The construction of a theodicy for both moral and natural evils is the focus of the central part of the book. In the final chapters I analyze the concept of the best possible world and the properties of goodness and omnipotence insofar as they are predicated of God.
In Explaining Evil four prominent philosophers, two theists and two non-theists, present their arguments for why evil exists. Taking a "position and response" format, in which one philosopher offers an account of evil and three others respond, this book guides readers through the advantages and limitations of various philosophical positions on evil, making it ideal for classroom use as well as individual study. -/- Divided into four chapters, Explaining Evil covers Theistic Libertarianism (Richard Brian Davis), (...) Theistic Compatibilism (Paul Helm), Atheistic Moral Realism (Erik Wielenberg) and Atheistic Moral Non-realism (Michael Ruse). It features topics including free will, theism, atheism, goodness, Calvinism, evolutionary ethics, and pain, and demonstrates some of the dominant models of thinking within contemporary philosophy of religion and ethics. (shrink)
The question of why humanity first chose to sin is an extension to the problem of evil to which the free-will defence does not easily apply. In De Libero Arbitrio and elsewhere Augustine argues that as an instance of evil, the fall is necessarily inexplicable. In this article, I identify the problems with this response and attempt to construct an alternative based on Peter van Inwagen's free will 'mysterianism'. I will argue that the origin of evil is (...) inexplicable not because it is an instance of evil, but because it is an instance of free will. (shrink)
The problem of evil is one of the most discussed topics in the philosophy of religion. For some time, however, there has been a need for a collection of readings that adequately represents recent and ongoing writing on the topic. This volume fills that need, offering the most up-to-date collection of recent scholarship on the problem of evil. The distinguished contributors include J.L. Mackie, Nelson Pike, Roderick M. Chisholm, Terence Penelhum, Alvin Plantinga, William L. Rowe, Stephen J. Wykstra, (...) John Hick, and Diogenes Allen. Including an introductory essay and a selected bibliography, this comprehensive and completely up-to-date collection is an invaluable guide to current scholarship in this highly debated area of the philosophy of religion. Oxford Readings in Philosophy aims to bring together important recent writings in major areas of philosophical inquiry, selected from a variety of sources, mostly periodicals, which may not be conveniently available. (shrink)
This timely book by philosopher Peter Dews explores the idea of evil, one of the most problematic terms in the contemporary moral vocabulary. Surveys the intellectual debate on the nature of evil over the past two hundred years Engages with a broad range of discourses and thinkers, from Kant and the German Idealists, via Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, to Levinas and Adorno Suggests that the concept of moral evil touches on a neuralgic point in western culture Argues that, (...) despite the widespread abuse and political manipulation of the term ‘evil’, we cannot do without it Concludes that if we use the concept of evil, we must acknowledge its religious dimension. (shrink)
Slave-holders, Nazis, and psychopaths are indisputably bad people. But the ways in which they attempt to justify their actions provide uncomfortable parallels with our own moral deliberations. Moral philosophy provides tools for examining and evaluating our moral deliberations, and so serve an important function in moral education.
This book examines what makes someone an evil person and how evil people are different from merely bad people. Rather than focusing on the "problem of evil" that occupies philosophers of religion, Barry looks instead to moral psychology—the intersection of ethics and psychology. He provides both a philosophical account of what evil people are like and considers the implications of that account for social, legal, and criminal institutions. He also engages in traditional philosophical reasoning strongly informed (...) by psychological research, especially abnormal and social psychology. In response to the popularity of phrases like "the axis of evil" and the ease with which politicians and others describe their opponents as "evil," Barry sets out to make clear just what it is to be an evil person. (shrink)
CRITIQUES OF THEODICIES FOR NATURAL EVIL, DERIVED FROM NATURAL LAWS, SUGGEST TWO REQUIREMENTS THAT A SUCCESSFUL THEODICY PURPORTEDLY MUST SATISFY. REQUIREMENT (1)-- THAT THE THEIST MUST SHOW THAT IT IS CONTRADICTORY OR ABSURD FOR GOD TO INTERVENE IN THE WORLD IN A MIRACULOUS FASHION TO ELIMINATE NATURAL EVIL--IS MET BY SHOWING THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO CREATE A WORLD GOVERNED BY DIVINE MIRACULOUS INTERVENTION. AS FOR REQUIREMENT (2) -- THAT THE THEIST MUST SHOW THAT IT IS (...) IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO CREATE A SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER WORLD THAN THIS ONE, AND THAT THIS IMPOSSIBILITY DOES NOT CONFLICT WITH DIVINE OMNIPOTENCE--I ARGUE THAT IT NEED NOT BE MET, SINCE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DETERMINE EMPIRICALLY WHETHER THIS IS OR IS NOT THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS. (shrink)
The De Malo represents some of Aquinas' most mature thinking on goodness, badness, and human agency. In it he examines the full range of questions associated with evil: its origin, its nature, its relation to good, and its compatability with the existence of an omnipotent, benevolent God. This edition offers Richard Regan's new, clear readable English translation, based on the Leonine Commission's authoritative edition of the Latin text. Brian Davies has provided an extensive introduction and notes..
Violating the human status : the evil of genocide and crimes against humanity -- Superfluous humanity : the evil of global poverty -- Citizens of nowhere : the evil of statelessness -- Effacing the political : the evil of neoliberal globalization.
Schelling and Schopenhauer both operate in the German idealist tradition initiated by Kant, although both are critical of some of its developments. Schelling's interest in evil – which is at its most intense in his 1809 Freedom essay – stems from his belief that Kant's account of morality. In the Freedom essay Schelling links these theories with the traditional Christian conception of evil as a privation, and attempts by contrast to develop a concept of "radical" or "positive" (...) class='Hi'>evil that grounds both our freedom and individual personality. Evil as folly is a corollary of the Socratic identification of virtue with knowledge. The distinguishing feature of the free-will defenses is that god is logically constrained to permit moral evil if God creates a world with moral freedom. It is consistent with such defenses that God is (in some sense) responsible for creating evil, but God's actions are all things considered justified. (shrink)
Kant asserts that the formula of the schools “nihil appetimus, nisi sub ratione boni” is undoubtedly certain when clearly expressed. Conversely, doubt reflects a failure clearly to express it. Once we comprehend the concepts of the formula, of the good and of desire, there is no doubting it. In recent times, the formula has fallen into doubt. If Kant is right, then this shows a lack of clarity with respect to the concepts the formula conjoins. I want to suggest that (...) Kant is right: the formula of the schools is undoubtedly certain. I first explain in Kant’s own terms why there is no such thing as doubting the formula. Then I approach it from a different angle, provided by what I take to be the unclarity that affects current thought on the topic. (shrink)