Scepticism about overall values of consequences
January 8, 2011 — 14:22

Author: Alexander Pruss  Category: Problem of Evil  Tags: ,   Comments: 3

Consider two theses.
ST: Sceptical Theism.
Chaos: The world is deeply chaotic and the human race is likely to have a long future.
I stipulate that both ST and Chaos are to be understood in such a way that they imply Further Value Scepticism:
FVS: For no ordinary sort of event E (I am excluding here events like the annihilation of the human race) do we have any reason to say that when we consider E’s further non-obvious consequences and aspects, including the long-term ones, the overall value of these further consequences and aspects will be negative or positive.
So, now, we have the question whether FVS implies some sort of moral paralysis. Weak moral paralysis is the thesis that for no positive action A is it the case that one ought to do A. Strong moral paralysis is the thesis that for every positive action A, one ought not do A.
Consider two asymmetry theses. First, Doing-Refraining Asymmetry:
DRA: It is significantly worse to be the cause of an evil by means of a doing than by means of a refraining, even when one is the cause unknowingly and unintentionally.
Second Good-Evil Outcome Asymmetry:
GBOA: The disvalue of being the cause of a great evil is significantly greater than the value of being the cause of a comparable great good.
I will now offer a handwaving argument for this thesis:
(*) If both DRA and GBOA are true, then strong moral paralysis follows from FVS.
(**) If at least one of DRA and GBOA is false, then neither kind of moral paralysis follows from FVS.


Skeptical Theism and Virtue Theory: Bergmann’s Dilemma
December 24, 2010 — 16:49

Author: Trent Dougherty  Category: Atheism & Agnosticism Existence of God Problem of Evil Religious Belief  Tags: , , , , , ,   Comments: 17

Continuing the recent theme of skeptical theism. It only recently occurred to me to puzzle over the fact that skeptical theism–at least for leading proponent Mike Bergmann–has nothing to do with theism. Of course, there’s the axiom ST —> T, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
What I mean is that skeptical theism’s skeptical thesis are just about the nature of the good. That seems a *bit* odd to me: there’s nothing theological motivating skeptical theism as Bergmann expresses it. It has nothing obvious to do with “God’s ways being greater than ours.” It’s just that we don’t understand goodness well enough.
And here’s another thing I noticed recently that bothered me–then I’ll put the criticism below the fold: It’s almost all deontolgical stuff. But I’m a virtue and value guy. As such, I think I have some insight into the *nature* of the good, which tells me something about *all* goods. This gives one more purchase than may be compatible with Bergmann’s versions of the “S” in “ST.”