Call an objection to the existence of God a ‘problem of sub-optimal worlds’ when it appeals to the claim that God has reason to maximize the value of worlds. Since there are better (feasible) worlds than the actual one, these problems infer in some way or another that God does not exist. Although I haven’t looked at the literature closely, my impression is that every instance of the problem of sub-optimal worlds assumes a very simple relationship between the intrinsic value of a state of affairs and reasons for action (they don’t always talk about reasons, but my point could be cast in terms of virtues or whatever else one prefers). Something like this is typically assumed without comment:
Promotion: For every domain of intrinsic value D and subject S, S has reason to maximize D, i.e., for every additional degree of D that could be attained, S has reason to attain that additional degree of value.
Promotion is plausible for some domains of intrinsic value, such as welfare. It’s plausible that, for every additional degree of welfare that I could bring about in your life, I have some reason to take the necessary means of attaining that additional degree of welfare. But does Promotion hold for every domain of intrinsic value? I don’t think so.
CFA: 2011 Australasian Philosophy of Religion Conference
When: Saturday July 16th- Sunday July 17th, 2011
Where: University of Auckland
Submission Deadline: May 1st, 2011
The Australasian Philosophy of Religion Association (APRA) invites abstracts of 200-300 words on any topic in philosophy of religion. You will have 25-30 minutes for presentation and 25 minutes for questions. Submissions should be sent by email to Dr Chris Tucker (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please use the subject line “APRA Submission.” Expect a decision within two weeks of your submission. For further details about the conference, please visit http://www.apra.org.au/the-apra-conference/.
Committed speakers include:
—Trent Dougherty (Baylor University)
—John Hare (Yale Divinity; Seelye Charitable Trust Distinguished Fellow)
—Mark Murphy (Georgetown University; Auckland University Distinguished Visitor)
—Erik Wielenberg (DePauw University)
There will be a Naturalisms in Ethics conference (NEC) immediately preceding the APRA conference. You are welcome to submit an abstract for the NEC as well. Confirmed speakers include Rosalind Hursthouse (University of Auckland), John Hare, Mark Murphy, and Erik Wielenberg. Further details here: http://sandbox.arts.auckland.ac.nz/~christucker/NEC.html.