The best so far. Median of 7 and average of 6.37. Good job! Click through to see… (Update: Some additional material added for Question 7 at the end. Other added material are also marked.)
- Question 1
Options A and C (Cain and Dave). Almost all of you (93%) got this!
Cain is right since, as it is presented by Mackie, the LPOE only arises if the following three claims are jointly inconsistent: (1) God is omnipotent, (2) God is omnibenevolent, and (3) Evil exists (though some helping “quasi-logical rules” will be needed to show this inconsistency). So if someone gives up the claim that God is omnibenevolent, the logical problem of evil wouldn’t arise in the first place.
Dave is right because omnibenevolence is an essential characteristic of the Classical Theistic God. If an entity lacks this attribute, it cannot be the Classical Theistic God. So, if someone who subscribed to Classical Theism gives up this claim, he is no longer a Classical Theist.
Lena is wrong because someone who gives the idea that God is omnibenevolent may not have suspended judgement regarding the existence of God, even if that God is to be defined in a non Classical Theistic way. Similarly, Tess is also wrong.
- Question 2
Option C (“Lena and Tess”). Almost all of you (94%) got this!
Lena is correct because if Mackie is right, then there is a contradiction between omnipotence and omnibenevolence (which define the God of classical theism), and the existence of evil.
Dave is incorrect because Mackie’s argument is an epistemological argument which aims to show that belief in God is irrational, and not a metaphysical argument which aims to show that God doesn’t exist.
Tess is correct because if at least one of the “quasi-logical rules” is not logically entailed by the three classical theist commitments, this means that it is possible to believe rationally in all three commitments, as long as one also believes that at least one of the “quasi-logical rules” is false.
- Question 3
Option D (“Lena, Cain and Dave are right”). A majority (66%) got this. Many (27%) distracted by Option B (“Dave only.).
Dave is right because a proponent of PPT cannot say that a world that has more pain is a better world, since intrinsic goodness for them is defined only in terms of pleasure and pain. Almost all of you saw this.
Lena is right because an adequate objection to any argument would show that the argument is unsound, either by proving that one of the premises is false, or that the argument is invalid.
Cain is right because this is exactly what Mackie counts as an adequate solution. Keep in mind that we are talking about what Mackie would agree to–the same Mackie who classed “first-order evil is necessary for second-order good” under “fallacious solutions”. (He might agree that if Christopher’s statements about “first-order evil is necessary for second-order good” are accepted, then things can be otherwise. But this isn’t that case.)
- Question 4
Option A (“Lena only”). Most of you (84%) got this.
Lena is correct because Mackie states that: “we observe and give names to qualities only if they have real opposites.” According to this, if a quality has no real opposites, then it wouldn’t be given a name. Since there are no real opposites of niceness in this world (no one is not nice to others), Buddy and Christopher would not have a world for niceness, given what’s said in the reading (pp. 204-205).
Will is incorrect because Mackie states that: “the principle that a term must have an opposite would only belong to our language or to our thought, and would not be an ontological principle”. Hence, just because not-niceness doesn’t exist does not mean that niceness does not exist.
Note: The above is just the point made in W08 Slide #24-25.
- Question 5
Option D (“Neither Tess nor Dave”). Most of you (84%) got this.
Tess is wrong because it is possible to accept Mackie’s conclusion and to maintain a belief in the God of Classical Theism, i.e., by adopting “Position (c)” (W08 Slide #20). Look also for my response to “Is it ok to believe in God even if it is not rational?” in the Q/A.
Dave is wrong because if Mackie’s argument is (“definitely”) unsound, it will only follow that the classical theist is (“definitely”) not holding inconsistent beliefs. This is still some distance from showing that it is irrational for anyone to believe that the God of classical theism doesn’t exist.
- Question 6
Options B, C, and D. A majority (67%) got this.
Option A is incorrect since the fact that there isn’t an example of good food that exemplifies the “Holy Trinity” of gustatory virtues doesn’t entail that the three virtues are inconsistent with each other–that saying “food item X is cheap, fast, and delicious” entails a contradiction. Almost all of you (93%) got this.
The reverse, however, is otherwise–if the “Holy Trinity” of gustatory virtues really does form an inconsistent set of ideas, then it will be impossible for anyone to produce an example of a food item that exemplifies the three virtues without contradicting themselves–so Option B is correct. Almost all of you (94%) got this.
Option C is correct–it basically transplants the conditions for the LPOE to count as successfully showing that the Classical Theist who believes that evil exists holds inconsistent ideas to the scenario, though rephrased as a metaphysics rather than epistemological argument. Added: Some of you might be wondering if the “in Singapore” bits makes a difference:
Just as there can be a logical problem of evil for the existence of God for those who both believe that God is omnibenevolent and omnipotent, and also that evil exists, so likewise (according to the students’ conversation) there can be a logical problem for the existence of good food in Singapore for those who both believe that good food is defined by the “Holy Trinity” of gustatory virtues, and also that good food exists in Singapore, if it turns out that the right “quasi-logical rules” can be found connecting the “Holy Trinity” and the existence or non-existence of foods with those qualities.
If it turns out that the right “quasi-logical rules” can be found connecting the “Holy Trinity” and the existence or non-existence of foods with those qualities–notice the lack of any qualification such as “in Singapore–then there can be a logical problem for the existence of good food anywhere, not just in Singapore. And if that happens, there will also be a logical problem for the existence of good food in Singapore. If you managed to prove that “something exists that is round and square” involves an inconsistency, you will also have proven that “something exists in Singapore that is round and square” involves an inconsistency.
Option D is also correct–if will rather than Lena is correct in their claims, then there is at least one food item that is cheap, fast, and delicious–i.e., a food item that exemplifies the “Holy Trinity” of gustatory virtues. This implies that there isn’t a logical problem for the existence of good food in Singapore. Most of you (81%) got this.
I think some of you were thrown off by the fact that the students’ considerations were framed in terms of the existence or non-existence of good food (in Singapore), rather than the rationality or irrationality of believing that good food exists (in Singapore). Yes, Mackie’s LPOE is framed as an epistemological argument. But as I pointed out in the lecture (see W08 Slide #15), there is a metaphysical counterpart to the argument. (Think also of Galen Strawson’s argument–going from the idea that if someone is morally responsible for an action, then she would have done the logically impossible–which is is impossible–to the idea that moral responsibility doesn’t exist. Not just “it’s irrational to believe that moral responsibility exist”.) And the student weren’t mixing the arguments–they weren’t arguing from the rationality or irrationality of believing that something exist or does not exist to the things existence or non-existence. Their whole discussion is framed in terms of the existence or non-existence of good food (in Singapore).
- Question 7
Options A, B and C (i.e., I, II, III). A majority (54%) got this.
Keep in mind that we asking which of Tess’ statements correctly represents Mackie’s position. The first two statements are:
I. The idea that ‘Evil is due to human free will’ could imply that God couldn’t make men such that they always freely chose the good, which implies rejecting God’s omnipotence.
II. In addition, the idea ‘Evil is due to human free could also implicitly involve rejecting God’s omnibenevolence.
The relevant quote from Mackie is from p, 209:
God was not, then, faced with a choice between making innocent automata and making beings who, in acting freely, would sometimes go wrong: there was open to him the obviously better possibility of making beings who would act freely but always go right. Clearly, his failure to avail himself of this possibility is inconsistent with his being both omnipotent and wholly good.
This implies that both I and II correctly represent Mackie. Do note the qualifying “could imply”, and “could also imply”–they are not redundant. This is because technically, God not availing himself of the option to make beings who would act freely but always go right is inconsistent with his being both omnipotent and wholly good–i.e., if he didn’t do it, then either he is not omnipotent, or he is not wholly good. From this, you can’t deduce that if God didn’t do it, then he is not omnipotent. Or that he is not wholly good. (In other words, from “If P, then either Q or R”, and “P”, you can’t deduce Q, nor can you deduce R–you can only deduce “either Q or R”) Almost all of you got the above (98% saw that I is correct and 91% saw that II is correct).
Next comes this one:
III. The free will solution to the problem of evil requires the universe to be indeterministic, as God can be absolved of responsibility for people’s actions only if those actions are not determined by people’s nature.
This one is from this passage, also on p. 209:
If it is replied that… the making of some wrong choices is logically necessary for freedom, it would seem that ‘freedom ‘ must here mean complete randomness or indeterminacy, including randomness with regard to the alternatives good and evil, in other words that men’s choices and consequent actions can be “free” only if they are not determined by their characters. Only on this assumption can God escape the responsibility for men’s actions…
Most of you (65%) got the above. If you are unsure, let me unpack the thing more fully. Start with the last sentence: “Only on this assumption [=men’s choices and consequent actions are “free” in that they are not determined by their characters, and so, complete randomness or indeterminacy, including randomness with regard to the alternatives good and evil] can God escape the responsibility for men’s actions…”
IV. However, if people’s actions are indeterministic, then the free will solution to the problem of evil is plausible; the problem is that (for Mackie), people’s actions are not indeterministic.”
This one is inaccurate. Mackie isn’t committing himself to saying that people’s actions are not indeterministic–he’s only pointing out that there are various difficulties with thinking that they are indeterministic. For instance:
But then if freedom is randomness, how can it be a characteristic of will? And, still more, how can it be the most important good? What value or merit would there be in free choices if these were random actions which were not determined by the nature of the agent?
In other words, the problem for the Theist is that (Mackie implies) he is now in an unhappy position of having to come up with an account of freedom that doesn’t have these difficulties. The problem isn’t stated as–well, sorry, our actions aren’t indeterministic, and so you are just wrong. Almost all of you (91%) got this.
- Question 8
Option A, and almost all of you (96%) got this.
Basically, Lena correctly stated the Paradox of Omnipotence, but drew a conclusion from it that Mackie does not endorse. In the reading, Mackie does not say that the Paradox implies the non-existence of the Classical Theistic God, so we can’t be saying “Mackie would definitely disagree with the student and agree with Lena”. In fact, Mackie’s understanding of the Paradox seems to be, if we take it on board, then we must revise our understanding of God’s omnipotence, and this is compatible with his agreeing with the student rather than Lena.
* * * * *
A bit more about the Logical Problem for the Existence of Good Food
A student wrote to ask for more about Question 6, specifically, how the scenario described is like the LPOE. She has this specific worry:
Option C is arguing that LPOE is similar to the issue the students are arguing about (logical problem for existence of good food; lets call it LPOGF). But if you compare what LPOE is saying against LPOGF: LPOE talks about whether God is all good, all powerful and whether evil exists, while LPOGF talks about whether the good food is cheap fast delicious (Holy trinity) and whether good food exists. “Good food exists” is not the equivalent of whether “evil exists” since LPOE is about the attributes of God and whether evil (a separate entity from God) exists and LPOGF is about the attributes of good food and whether good food (the “God” of LPOGF; i.e. not a separate entity from good food) exists…
Yes, it’s a good observation–the LPOE and LPOGF aren’t perfectly parallel. But they are analogous. Both are cases where there is an apparent inconsistency between a set of propositions which poses a problem for either the rationality of believing that something exist (God, or evil, in one case, good food, in the other), or the outright existence or non-existence of something (the issue in Question 6). For the scenario in Question 6, the general idea would go something like this.
Imagine that someone puts forward X as a candidate for good food. Which means that the following three propositions are in play:
(1) X is cheap
(2) X is fast
(3) X is delicious.
Next, you are supposed to imagine a suitable quasi-logical rule connecting the trinity and the existence of good food. To short circuit this, let me just put it down as:
(4) If something is cheap, then it is either not fast or not delicious; if something is fast, then it is either not cheap or delicious; if something is delicious, then it is either not cheap or fast.
Obviously, (4) as stated is not a true quasi-logical rule. And as far as I can tell, none can be provided, since there isn’t a genuine LPOEGF (which is good since I like good food!) But the question is asking you to imagine “if it turns out that the right “quasi-logical rules” can be found”. So we’ll just pretend that (4) is a true quasi-logical rule.
With (4), you can now show that from (1), and (2), it follows that (3) is false. From (1) and (3), it follows that (2) is false. And from (2) and (3), it follows that (1) is false. (Think of the equivalent moves for the LPOE.) What this means is that nothing can go into the “X” slot such that (1)-(3) come out all true (given (4)), hence, “the Logical Problem of Good Food” (tongue in cheek). (And with this outcome, you can also deduce that there’s a logical problem for good food to exist in Singapore.)