Research seminar of philosophy

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Pinni B -building lecture hall 4141 (Address: Kanslerinrinne 1)


Faculty of Social Sciences

Guest lecture by professor Sami Pihlström (Professor of Philosophy of Religion, Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki)

Theodicism and Metaphysical Realism: A Pragmatic Critique of the "Argument from Evil"


My objective in this paper is to offer an ethical critique of metaphysical realism by analyzing its inability to acknowledge the perspectival plurality and diversity of others' suffering. I will argue that /theodicism /- i.e., the view that a theodicy justifying God's allowing apparently unnecessary and meaningless suffering (or a secular variant thereof) is required as a response to the "problem of evil" - typically presupposes metaphysical realism, assuming the availability of a "God's-Eye View" theory of why there is evil and suffering, a theory postulating God's reasons for allowing the world to contain apparently gratuitous evil and suffering on the massive scale known to us.

The paper will not only criticize theodicism by rejecting its central background assumption but also (indirectly) metaphysical realism itself by rejecting its (typical) corollary, theodicism. However, we should also observe that this does not lead to a rejection of realism /tout court/. Rather, /antitheodicism /- the view that abandons the entire project of theodicy - needs a pragmatically realist understanding of humanly speaking objective reality and truth.

As the paper suggests that an /ethical /argument regarding theodicies - focusing on their tendency to fail to recognize individual experiences and voices of suffering - yields a /metaphysical/ argument against metaphysical realism as their source, it also shows how our concern with theodicy and antitheodicy results in a more general reflection on the relation between ethics and metaphysics.


Additional information

Jani Hakkarainen
Adjunct Professor in Theoretical Philosophy
040 190 4125