Commonsense, Skeptical Theism, and Different Sorts of Closure of Inquiry Defeat

Faith and Philosophy 34 (1):17-32 (2017)
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Abstract

Trent Dougherty argues (contra Jonathan Matheson) that when taking into consideration the probabilities involving skeptical theism (ST) and gratuitous evils, an agent may reasonably affirm both ST and that gratuitous evils exist. In other words, Dougherty thinks that assigning a greater than .5 probability to ST is insufficient to defeat the commonsense problem of evil. I argue that Dougherty’s response assumes, incorrectly, that ST functions solely as an evidential defeater, and that, when understood as a closure of inquiry defeater, ST may still defeat reasonable belief in gratuitous evils, even in the face of strong evidence that gratuitous evils exist.

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Jonathan Rutledge
Harvard University

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