Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University, 37th and O Streets, NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA e-mail: [email protected]
The traditional problem of evil sets theists the task of reconciling two things: God and evil. I argue that theists face the more difficult task of reconciling God and evils that God is specially obligated to prevent. Because of His authority, God's obligation to curtail evil goes far beyond our Samaritan duty to prevent evil when doing so isn't overly hard. Authorities owe their subjects a positive obligation to prevent certain evils; we have a right against our authorities that they protect us. God's apparent mistake is not merely the impersonal wrong of failing to do enough good – though it is that too. It is the highly personal wrong of failing to live up to a moral requirement that comes bundled with authority over persons. To make my argument, I use the resources of political philosophy and defend a novel change to the orthodox account of authority.