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The Problem of Evil and Moral Scepticism

Brice R. Wachterhauser
International Journal for Philosophy of Religion
Vol. 17, No. 3 (1985), pp. 167-174
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40021212
Page Count: 8
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The Problem of Evil and Moral Scepticism
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Abstract

This paper argues that the logical coherence of classical theism can be defended through the traditional free-will defense and argument from divine omniscience and human finitude, but only at the cost of moral scepticism. The above two-pronged defense entails moral scepticism because it demands that we construe clear and undeniable cases of morally unjustifiable evil as merely apparently unjustifiable evils which can be morally justified from some moral point of view. The paper argues that justification is impossible because such basic evils can never be justified from any "moral" perspective. The very conditions necessary for having a moral perspective demand that one recognize certain evils as unjustifiable from any moral point of view. This is the case because moral theories are designed to give us insight into such evils. Moreover, I argue that even if one rejects the above argument, moral scepticism still follows because any intelligible account of moral knowledge requires that its proponents be able at least to point to certain cases of unjustifiable evil if their theory is to have any purchase in the real world and avoid the charge of moral irrelevance and moral scepticism. But this is precisely what the classical theist cannot do. If, however, the classical theist rejects this moral scepticism, then real cases of morally unjustifiable evil must be admitted to exist and a single one of these is sufficient to undermine the logical coherence of classical theism.

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