The (In)Compatibility of the Privation Theory of Evil and the Mere-Difference View of Disability

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The privation theory of evil (PTE) states that evil is the absence of some good that is supposed to be present. For example, if vision is an intrinsic good, and if human beings are supposed to have vision, then PTE implies that a human being’s lacking vision is an evil, or a bad state of affairs. The mere-difference view of disability (MDD) states that disabilities like blindness are not inherently bad. Therefore, it would seem that lacking sight is not a bad state of affairs. Thus PTE and MDD seem to be in tension. This essay discusses that apparent tension and explains how it might be resolved without doing violence to either view. Given the prominence of PTE in the history of Christian theology, and the wide support for MDD among disability theorists, it is worth finding a way to harmonize these two views.
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Archival date: 2020-11-03
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