Religious Studies

Good-bye to the problem of evil, hello to the problem of veracity

a1 Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT


I start from Mill's words about Mansel and the problem of evil. In this dispute Mansel has generally been thought to have come off worst. However, Mansel was clearly right to this extent: that what would make a man a good man would not be the same as what made God good. This is because, quite generally, what makes something good of its kind, where we can talk about goodness at all, varies with the kind. With Aristotle we must say: the criteria are fixed by the thing's ergon, or at least by something analogous. On this account, it would seem that God must be perfect, since as an intelligent agent He does supremely well what is in the nature of an intelligent agent to do. This seems to lead to the right solution to the problem of evil. But Mill also had something useful to contribute. He saw that there would be a consequent difficulty in regard to revelation. This difficulty seems to be severe and insufficiently discussed.