Introducing the Problem of Evil

Teaching Philosophy 22 (2):185-194 (1999)
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This paper addresses several reasons why students may be uninterested or unwilling to engage with the problem of evil and discusses a method of teaching it which overcomes these difficulties. This strategy, first, distinguishes between evil and gratuitous evil. This prevents students from thinking that the task of theodicy is fulfilled by a reconciliation of God with mundane evil (e.g. immunizations). Second, the goal of theodicy is framed as the reconciliation of God with the appearance of evil. Emphasizing appearance in this way clearly frames the work of arguments from evil and theodicies as arguments for or against the reality of this appearance. Third, it is made explicit that all candidate theodicies must attempt to cover all evil and that the reasons supporting their conclusions must compass morally sufficient reasons (a moral reason which justifies suffering) and the greater good (a good which is sufficiently good to justify the evil necessary for its achievement).

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Peter Hutcheson
Texas State University


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