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Connection-building theodicy

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1/18/2014 8:06:28 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I did a debate on a form of the problem of evil a while back that I unfortunately didn't get to finish a while back (due to some personal problems that arose at the time), so I didn't get to respond to Pwner's argument.

To my surprise, the philosopher Robin Collins (who's paper I drew my argument from) got in contact with me:

"Conversation started January 9
Robin Collins
1/9, 1:44pm


I was looking around the web and saw your use of my connection building theodicy. I thought you did a good job articulating it and saying how it helped deal with the objection that the person debating you raised. I think, however, one could show more clearly (and I think definitively) how your opponents reasoning is mistaken. I present the response below:

According to premise (1), If God exists, then any child that suffers will ultimately benefit from it.

Premise (1) is motivated by the claim that God would prevent a case of suffering (due to no fault of the victim) unless God"s allowing the suffering leads to a greater good for the victim. Put symbolically, premise (1) is motivated by the claim that God is only justified in allowing the victim to suffer if ES + GS > 0, where ES represents the evil of the suffering and GS the greater good that both benefits the victim and would not occur if God prevented the suffering. (Goods are given positive utility and evils negative utility, and hence ES is a negative number and GS is a positive number.)

According to Premise (2), if any child that suffers will ultimately benefit from it, then no one ought to prevent any child from suffering.

Premise (2) at most follows if GS + ES -- the total good that ensues to the child from not preventing the suffering -- is greater than any benefit, G*S, to the child that ensues from a human person preventing the suffering: symbolically, premise (2) is only true if GS + ES > G*S. (The benefit G*S does not include the benefit of the child not suffering, but the amount of benefit in addition to that.) Since by hypothesis ES has substantial negative value, this means that GS would have to be a considerably greater good than G*S in order for premise (2) to follow. If we think of these goods as those given by the connection building theodicy, then there is no reason to think GS would be substantially larger than GS*. Further, notice that if God prevented the suffering by a divine act, then no additional connection GS* would form since the connections require that the personal agent preventing the suffering put forward significant effort to do it; hence in the case of God's preventing it, there would be no substitute good to replace GS. This means the child would have lost a benefit. The crucial thing the CBT does is show that there is a possible benefit to the victim (in addition to the suffering that was prevented) by a human person preventing the suffering that is not gained by God preventing the suffering. So the requirement that God prevents the suffering is that ES + GS < 0, whereas the requirement that a human person prevent the suffering is ES + GS < GS*, which is a much less stringent requirement " that is, there will be many cases in which ES + GS > 0 (and so God is not required to prevent the suffering) but in which ES + GS < GS*, and so humans are ethically required to prevent the suffering."

To my mind, this is a pretty convincing reply (and I was thinking of something along the same lines although far, far less developed). But, anyway, what do ya'll think?
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote: