defence, greater-good

defence, greater-good
   This approach to the problem of evil, classically expounded by Irenaeus, points out that God might have an overriding reason to allow limited evil in the world, namely, the goal of achieving an overall greater good than would otherwise exist. The primary good, as identified by John Hick, is 'soul-making', the maturation of moral agents through suffering and the development of second-order goods like courage and altruism. The defence does not answer why God did not simply create mature moral agents at the beginning, though one could perhaps point to the importance of a moral history: that is, there may be intrinsic value in agents' developing a moral character and exercising second-order goods over time. Another objection to the theory is that it fails to provide a plausible account of the amount, distribution and duration of evil. While horrific events like the Rwandan genocide often result in some acts of great moral courage and altruism, it may appear implausible (or even offensive) to argue that, on balance, those horrific events are justified in light of a greater good that they achieved.
   Further reading: Adams, Marilyn McCord 1999; Hick 1977

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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