Our Knowledge of Gratuitous Evil

How do we know that some instance of evil is gratuitous? I think that there is much to say in favor of the idea that we simply see that the evil is gratuitous. That is, in observing some bad event, I observe directly that this event is neither necessary for the occurrence of some compensating good nor for the prevention of some worse evil. I see, for example, a child fall while trying to climb a tree and then start crying because of a sliver stuck in the palm of her hand. I don’t think, “Well, ma … [Read more...]

An Evidential Argument from Evil: Natural Inequality

I want to quickly sketch an evidential (aka "explanatory" aka "abductive" aka "F-Inductive") argument from evil, one which focuses exclusively on natural inequality.  The argument is not mine; it belongs to Moti Mizrahi.The key point of Mizrahi's argument, which he credits to an insight of John Rawls, is this: ... natural endowments are undeserved.Now, if natural endowments are undeserved, then the fact that one person is more innately endowed than another is arbitrary from a moral point of … [Read more...]

Correction to “Are Atheism and Moral Realism Logically Incompatible?”

The introduction to my post, "Are Atheism and Moral Realism Logically Incompatible?", probably gave readers an impression I did not intend, namely, that, in my exchange at Victor Reppert's Dangerous Idea blog, Steve linked arguments from moral ontology (for theism) and arguments from evil (from atheism).  Steve didn't do that there and I'm sorry if I created that impression. My introduction was aimed at other theists, not necessarily Steve, who I think employ a double standard when refuting so- … [Read more...]

LINK: A New Problem of Evil: Authority and the Duty of Interference

Abstract: The traditional problem of evil sets theists the task of reconciling two things: God and evil. I argue that theists face the more difficult task of reconciling God and evils that God is specially obligated to prevent. Because of His authority, God's obligation to curtail evil goes far beyond our Samaritan duty to prevent evil when doing so isn't overly hard. Authorities owe their subjects a positive obligation to prevent certain evils; we have a right against our authorities that they … [Read more...]

LINK: The Problem of Animal Pain and Suffering

Abstract: Here I discuss some theistic responses to the problem of animal pain and suffering with special attention to Michael Murray’s presentation in Nature Red in Tooth and Claw. The neo-Cartesian defenses he describes are reviewed, along with the appeal to nomic regularity and Murray’s emphasis on the progression of the universe from chaos to order. It is argued that despite these efforts to prove otherwise the problem of animal suffering remains a serious threat to the belief that an all … [Read more...]

LINK: The Problem of Natural Inequality: A New Problem of Evil

Abstract: 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 … [Read more...]

LINK: Environmental Ethics and the Expanding Problem of Evil

Abstract:  The problem of evil is that morally gratuitous suffering and destruction is evidence against a benevolent and potent god. Often cases of this evil are restricted to human suffering, but if the moral universe is expanded in the fashion associated with environmental ethics, the scope of morally significant suffering and destruction grows. Consequently, the wider the scope of the moral universe, the problem of evil becomes harder for theists to solve. LINK (note: paper is behind a p … [Read more...]

Quote of the Day (on Child Rape vs. Free Will)

Victor Reppert: Well, I personally would rather live in a world in which children are raped than in a world without free will.But I suspect you will find my preference repugnant. LINK (you may have to skip down to the comments box to find this) … [Read more...]