Research

Finalized Publications:

“Sufferer-Centered Requirements on Theodicy and All-Things-Considered Harms,” Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, 8, 71-95, 2017.

A preprint of this paper can be read here.

Both Marilyn Adams and Eleonore Stump have endorsed requirements on theodicy which, if true, imply that we can never suffer all-things-considered harms.  William Hasker has offered a series of arguments intended to show that this implication is unacceptable.  In this paper, I evaluate Hasker’s arguments and find them lacking.  However, I also argue that Hasker’s arguments can be modified or expanded in ways that make them very powerful.  I close by considering why God might not meet the requirements endorsed by Stump and Adams and show how they can modify their requirements to avoid the untenable implications about harm while still respecting the concerns that motivated their requirements in the first place.

“The Problem of Evil and the Suffering of Creeping Things,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 82(1), 71-88, 2017.

This paper can be read here.

Even philosophers of religion working on the problem of non-human animal suffering have ignored the suffering of creatures like insects. Sensible as this seems, it’s mistaken. I am not sure whether creatures like these can suffer, but it is plausible, on both commonsensical and scientific and philosophical grounds, that many of them can. If they do, their suffering makes the problem of evil much worse: their vast numbers mean the amount of evil in the world will almost certainly be increased by many, many orders of magnitude, the fact that disproportionately many of them live lives which are nasty, brutish, and short means that the proportion of good to evil in the world will be drastically worsened, and their relative lack of cognitive sophistication means that many theodicies, including many specifically designed to address animal suffering, would apply to their suffering only with much greater difficulty, if at all. Philosophers of religion should therefore more seriously investigate whether these beings can suffer and what, if anything, could justify God in allowing as much.

“Wealth, Well-Being, and the Danger of Having too Much,” Religions 8(5), 2017.

This paper can be read here. It was an invited paper for a special issue on economic inequality; a description of the special issue by the editors can be found here.

It’s impossible for an agent who is classically economically rational to have so much wealth that it’s harmful for them, since such an agent would simply give away their excess wealth.  Actual agents, vulnerable to akrasia and lacking full information, are not economically rational, but economists and political philosophers have nonetheless mostly ignored the possibility that having too much might be harmful in some ways.  I survey the major philosophical theories of well-being and draw on ethics and the social sciences to point out several ways in which, on the most plausible of these theories, having too much, relative to other members of one’s society, might be harmful to oneself (for instance, by making it harder for one to have appropriate relationships with others, or by making it more likely than one will develop undesirable character traits.)  I argue that because egalitarian policies prevent these harms and provide the advantaged with other benefits (such as access to public goods which help rich and poor alike,) egalitarian policies are not as harmful to the rich as is commonly supposed, and may even be helpful to them on balance.  I close by discussing the practical implications of this.

“‘We are Here to Help Each Other’: Religious Community, Divine Hiddenness, and the Responsibility Argument,” Faith and Philosophy 32(1), 45-62, 2015.

A preprint of this paper can be read here.

Richard Swinburne and Travis Dumsday have defended what J.L. Schellenberg calls “the responsibility argument” as a response to the problem of divine hiddenness. Schellenberg, meanwhile, has levied various objections against the responsibility argument. In this paper, I develop a version of the responsibility argument and discuss some advantages it has over those defended by either Swinburne or Dumsday. I then show how my version can withstand Schellenberg’s criticisms.

Works in Progress:

This section is under construction. On request, I am happy to provide drafts of any of the papers marked “under review” on the “CV” page.