Volume 81, Issue 3, Summer 2007
Evil as Such Is a Privation
A Reply to John Crosby
I reply to an article in the ACPA Proceedings of 2001 by John Crosby in which he challenged the position that evil as such is a privation. Each of his arguments attempts to present a counterexample to the privation position. His first argument, claiming that annihilation is evil but not a privation, fails to consider that a privation need not be contemporaneous with the subject suffering the privation. Contrary to his second argument, I explain that the repugnance of pain is consistent with its being good in the appropriate context. Against his third argument I contend that he mistakenly supposes that a choice’s being opposed to the good is incompatible with its being evil because of a disorder. I conclude by briefly reviewing one central argument for the privation position and contrast it with Crosby’s arguments, which, in addition to their other problems, fail to specify any intensional content, beyond repugnance in the case of pain, for the concept of evil.