Moral Imaginative Resistance to Heaven: Why the Problem of Evil is So Intractable

de Ethica: Journal of Philosophical, Theological and Applied Ethics 1 (5):51-67 (2018)
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The majority of philosophers of religion, at least since Plantinga’s reply to Mackie’s logical problem of evil, agree that it is logically possible for an omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God to exist who permits some of the evils we see in the actual world. This is conceivable essentially because of the possible world known as heaven. That is, heaven is an imaginable world in a similar way that logically possible scenarios in any fiction are imaginable. However, like some of the imaginable stories in fiction where we are asked to envision an immoral act as a moral one, we resist. I will employ the works of Tamar Gendler on imaginative resistance and Keith Buhler’s Virtue Ethics approach to moral imaginative resistance and apply them to the conception of heaven and the problem of evil. While we can imagine God as an omnibenevolent parent permitting evil to allow for morally significant freedom and the rewards in heaven or punishments in hell (both possible worlds), we should not. This paper is not intended to be a refutation of particular theodicies; rather it provides a very general groundwork connecting issues of horrendous suffering and imaginative resistance to heaven as a possible world.

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Chris A. Kramer
Santa Barbara City College


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