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Scrutton, Tasia. Why Not Believe in an Evil God? Pragmatic Encroachment and Some Implications for Philosophy of Religion
2016, Religious Studies 52(3): 345-360.
Added by: Emily Paul
Abstract: Pointing to broad symmetries between the idea that God is omniscient, omnipotent and all-good, and the idea that God is omniscient, omnipotent but all-evil, the evil-God challenge raises the question of why theists should prefer one over the other. I respond to this challenge by drawing on a recent theory in epistemology, pragmatic encroachment, which asserts that practical considerations can alter the epistemic status of beliefs. I then explore some of the implications of my argument for how we do philosophy of religion, arguing that practical and contextual as well as alethic considerations are properly central to the discipline.

Comment: A thought-provoking paper to use when teaching non-classical conceptions of God, which I think would be useful in an undergraduate course after teaching classical conceptions of God. Omnibenevolence in particular is an attribute that isn't often construed in a non-classical way, which makes this paper particularly interesting.

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