Tough - Tough-minded and Tender-hearted Responses to the...

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Tough-minded and Tender-hearted Responses to the Problem of Evil The Standard Argument from Evil In his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion , David Hume alludes to an ancient version of the argument from evil, due to the Greek philosopher Epicurus: 1. If God exists, then God is wholly good and omnipotent. 2. A wholly good God would want to actualize a world devoid of all evil. 3. An omnipotent God could actualize a world devoid of all evil. 4. Evil exists (the actual world is not devoid of evil). 5. Therefore, God does not exist. The main defect in this argument lies in the second premise. It is not at all obvious that a perfectly good being must create a world utterly devoid of evil. This might follow if we thought that evil was a positive quality that had to be caused to exist, since it would presumably in that case take a partially evil cause to produce a partially evil effect. However, if we accept the privative theory of evil, that route to premise two is denied us. An alternative to Epicurus's argument seeks to spell out why a good and omnipotent being would create a flawlessly good world. This alternative is so widely used that it deserves to be called the Standard Argument from Evil. The Standard Argument (Maximization of Good) 1. If God exists, then God is wholly good and omnipotent. 2. A wholly good God would want to actualize the best possible world. 3. The best possible world would contain the greatest possible surplus of good over evil. 4. A world with the greatest possible surplus of good over evil would be a world devoid of evil. 5. An omnipotent God could actualize any world. 6. Evil exists. 7. Therefore, God does not exist. There are a couple variations on the standard argument that we will encounter later. These variations concern premise 4, 5 and 6. A probabilistic version of the argument would replace premise 4 and 5 with something like this: 4/5p. It is very probable that the best possible world an omnipotent being could actualize would
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This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course PHI PHI2010 taught by Professor Jorgerigol during the Fall '09 term at Broward College.

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Tough - Tough-minded and Tender-hearted Responses to the...

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