For reasons of theodicy, I’d like to have a nice taxonomy of intrinsic evils that an individual might (in the epistemic sense) suffer that would raise a problem of evil. Here is an unsystematic list. What am I missing? Is there a nice systematic way to generate such a list?
- Moral depravity
- Mere deprivation
- Mere permanent death
Mere deprivation is where one is deprived of a good, say sight or friendship or knowledge or the fulfillment of a goal, but considered intrinsically, bracketing any suffering and effects. Some friendless people have a mere deprivation because they don’t care whether they have friends and feel happy without them, but most have suffering in addition to the mere deprivation.
Mere permanent death is permanent death considered intrinsically. It is a controversial question whether permanent death deserves a category of its own. If, for instance, what is bad about death is that it leaves one’s plans unfulfilled, then a bad death is just a species of the unfulfillment of one’s plans, and hence a mere deprivation, and a death that fails to leave one’s plans unfulfilled isn’t an evil at all. Moreover, it is a controversial question whether humans actually suffer permanent death–I think they don’t..
Augustine will say that all evils are a species of deprivation, and if he is right, then I can simply stipulate that “mere deprivation” is “mere deprivation other than suffering”.
A good question to ask is whether “moral depravity” includes vices and actions that one is not culpable for having. I am inclined to count only vices and actions that one is culpable for, and to assimilate the others to mere deprivation.
I can make the taxonomy be exhaustive if I stipulate that mere deprivation is any evil that isn’t a suffering or a depravity or permanent death in and of itself. That, I think, is a cheat.
[If you ask me which of these is the most difficult to give a theodicy for, I’d say that permanent death would be–if it happened, but it doesn’t happen. The next most difficult is a special case of suffering, namely non-veridical suffering. I think Bob Roberts is right about emotions being something like concern-based construals, and the same is true of suffering. But a construal is intrinsically good if it is veridical, so veridical sufferings aren’t an evil at all (this is counterintuitive to an extreme). An example of non-veridical suffering is phantom pain in amputees, or envy in sinners like myself. (As the envy example shows, some cases of non-veridical suffering are tied to moral depravity and can be handled by the same free will tools that will handle moral depravity. But not all are tied to moral depravity, and the remainder is what is harder to handle.) Depravity is handled by means of free will, and mere deprivation by something like this.]