The Problem of Goodness for the Problem of Evil : the Intractability and Inscrutability of the Probabilistic Argument
Crozat, Elliott Ruffin
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In this dissertation, I contend that the probabilistic argument from evil (PAE) is unsuccessful with respect to its axiology. First, I introduce my argument and outline several aspects of the problem of evil (PoE). Next, I address various critical terms for the dissertation. In particular, I examine the nature of probability by distinguishing between three kinds, and I identify the relevant kind of probability for the PAE. Then, I proceed to discuss the topics of good and evil, covering sundry examples of each. After discussing these preliminary topics, I claim that the existence of objective goodness presents a difficulty for the PAE. I support this claim by providing the following reasons: (a) some goods are best explained by theism, thereby presenting an abductive challenge to the PAE; (b) the PAE overlooks significant and contentious issues in axiology and moral philosophy, and this factor weakens the argument; and (c) the difficulty of understanding the nexus of goods and evils in the world undercuts the PAE. With regard to (c), the axiological configuration of the world presents a problem of combinatorial optimisation. The complexity of this problem is intractable for human beings. This point diminishes the plausibility of the conclusion of the PAE. I close by articulating several axiological questions that might be of interest for philosophers to pursue further. Given that the PoE is usually analysed with respect to its metaphysics and its modal logic, my emphasis on axiology raises new and interesting questions for scholars who desire to investigate the PoE afresh.
- Humanities