• TheMadFool
    4.9k
    A well-known "solution" to the problem of evil is that god allows evil because he desired to bestow free will upon us. Thus, we, possessed of free-will, have the liberty to do anything and "sometimes" we do evil and hence there is evil in the world.

    However, if you go by the existence of the law and the police, we come to the conclusion that evil comes naturally to us and we've recognized this fact of our nature. Ergo the need to put a rein on our immoral tendencies by enacting and enforcing laws. In other words, contrary to the free-will explanation for the problem of evil, there's no need for us to have free-will in order to be evil; In fact it's the opposite: we need free-will to go against our innate tendency for immorality and be at our best behavior.

    The free-will explanation for the problem of evil is wrong.
  • Tzeentch
    574
    I don't think humans have a natural or innate tendency towards evil.

    In the words of Plato; All men desire the Good.

    Every person desires what they think is best for them.

    The problem is that people's perceptions are hopelessly deluded, for which I think the biggest culprits are upbringing and societal factors.
  • TheMadFool
    4.9k
    I don't think humans have a natural or innate tendency towards evil.

    In the words of Plato; All men desire the Good.

    Every person desires what they think is best for them.

    The problem is that people's perceptions are hopelessly deluded, for which I think the biggest culprits are upbringing and societal factors
    Tzeentch

    Draconian laws were harsh - death penalty just for loitering.

    Modern laws may be more humane in terms of the absence of torture and very strict regulations on the death penalty, but laws exist and are quite severe in terms of years of freedom deprived. Why the need for laws if it wasn't for our immoral tendencies.

    Just for the sake of argument, suppose that evil isn't our default moral stance. That would imply that the law and the police are redundant but they're not. Ergo, as I said, evil is a natural tendency.
  • Isaac
    2k
    Just for the sake of argument, suppose that evil isn't our default moral stance. That would imply that the law and the police are redundant but they're not. Ergo, as I said, evil is a natural tendency.TheMadFool

    Nonsense. Engines don't naturally kill people. Put one in a lifeboat and it contributes to saving thousands of lives. Put one in a tank and it contributes to death and destruction. It's not about the engine, it's about where you put it.

    Just because humans in a modern agri-industrial mass society need policing, doesn't mean humans in every society ever need the same treatment.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Just because humans in a modern agri-industrial mass society need policing, doesn't mean humans in every society ever need the same treatment.Isaac

    Can you give us some examples of these other societies?
  • Tzeentch
    574
    Modern laws may be more humane in terms of the absence of torture and very strict regulations on the death penalty, but laws exist and are quite severe in terms of years of freedom deprived. Why the need for laws if it wasn't for our immoral tendencies.

    Just for the sake of argument, suppose that evil isn't our default moral stance. That would imply that the law and the police are redundant but they're not. Ergo, as I said, evil is a natural tendency.
    TheMadFool

    For one, laws often account for the outliers and not the mean, because it has to account for a great deal of insecurity. For example, because maybe 0.1% of the population are potential murderers, 100% of the population needs to be subjected to laws against murder, since we don't know who the potential murderers are.

    Secondly, I don't see how your argument proves evil is an innate or natural tendency. At most it proves it is a tendency under specific circumstances.
  • TheMadFool
    4.9k
    Nonsense. Engines don't naturally kill people. Put one in a lifeboat and it contributes to saving thousands of lives. Put one in a tank and it contributes to death and destruction. It's not about the engine, it's about where you put it.

    Just because humans in a modern agri-industrial mass society need policing, doesn't mean humans in every society ever need the same treatment.
    Isaac

    Well, in my humble opinion, the existence of deterrents in any form, even just the thought of it, is ample evidence that there's trouble in paradise.

    Look at it this way. Either good or bad is natural tendency. If good is a natural tendency then there's no need for free will. On the other hand, if evil is a natural tendency we'd need free will to be good, not bad. So, either there's no need for free will or we need free will to be good, not bad.
  • TheMadFool
    4.9k
    For one, laws often account for the outliers and not the mean, because it has to account for a great deal of insecurity. For example, because maybe 0.1% of the population are potential murderers, 100% of the population needs to be subjected to laws against murder, since we don't know who the potential murderers are.

    Secondly, I don't see how your argument proves evil is an innate or natural tendency. At most it proves it is a tendency under specific circumstances.
    Tzeentch

    Let's delve into the nature of legal punishment. It is or is best when it is:

    1. Retributive
    2. Deterrent
    3. Rehabilitative

    The deterrent factor is what concerns me because it's universal in scope. Yes, it has or is supposed to have its greatest use against murderers but I'm quite sure, if the law didn't exist, murder rates would sky-rocket; after all, even with the death penalty still in use, murder exists. Imagine what would happen without it?
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Secondly, I don't see how your argument proves evil is an innate or natural tendency. At most it proves it is a tendency under specific circumstances.Tzeentch

    History suggests that people can behave in the most extreme way given the circumstances. And if they aren’t the ones committing the crime then they’re turning a blind eye. We really don’t know how badly people are capable of behaving. Most would think cannibalism was rare, but it turns out under the right conditions to not be so unusual. I don’t think it’s an act of evil, but it indicates how we understand little of our capabilities, or prepared to admit.
  • Tzeentch
    574
    The deterrent factor is what concerns me because it's universal in scope. Yes, it has or is supposed to have its greatest use against murderers but I'm quite sure, if the law didn't exist, murder rates would sky-rocket; after all, even with the death penalty still in use, murder exists. Imagine what would happen without it?TheMadFool

    Ok, lets suppose there would be an increase. How would that make evil a natural tendency?
  • Isaac
    2k
    Can you give us some examples of these other societies?Brett

    I think nomadic hunter-gatherer societies provide an interesting example, but I wasn't really thinking about it empirically (as in 'every society that's ever been'), I was more thinking about it modally, as in 'every society that ever might be'.
  • Isaac
    2k
    Either good or bad is natural tendency. If good is a natural tendency then there's no need for free will. On the other hand, if evil is a natural tendency we'd need free will to be good, not bad. So, either there's no need for free will or we need free will to be good, not bad.TheMadFool

    Free-will, used in this sense, is a completely incoherent concept, so there's no traction with it here. If the desire to act in a 'good' way somehow drives our actions, then that is part of (not opposed to) free-will because it is us acting according to our desires, not according to someone else's. Thus we are free, in any meaningful sense of the term.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    I find it difficult to imagine any society that would not have some form of policing, even if it came in the form of myths and stories passed on down about behaviour and consequences and instilled in members as they grew up.
  • TheMadFool
    4.9k
    Ok, lets suppose there would be an increase. How would that make evil a natural tendency?Tzeentch

    Natural tendencies will predominate our behavioral repertoire - what comes natural to us will feature prominently in our conduct but only if there are no restrictions. For instance, it's natural for us to desire happiness and the majority behave in ways that show that is the case. Similarly, if there's a surge of immoral behavior when restrictions are removed, it's evidence that we are so inclined.
  • Isaac
    2k
    I find it difficult to imagine any society that would not have some form of policing, even if it came in the form of myths and stories passed on down about behaviour and consequences and instilled in members as they grew up.Brett

    But the limits to your imagination aren't evidence of anything, are they? Let's say people do need policing, let's say they're motivated to act badly. Why would anyone consider policing? Why write the stories, make the rules, support the law?

    If the argument is that policing toward a better society has always existed, then it cannot simultaneously be the case that we are all motivated by evil as our default moral stance, otherwise from where did the universal motive to police behaviour towards better ends come from?

    If, as some kind of compromise, you say "sometimes we're motivated by good, sometimes by evil", then you're stuck explaining the switching mechanism. If it's us who do the switching, then what motivates us to switch to being motivated by evil? If its something outside of us, then you're back to my proposition - remove that thing from society and you'll have one entirely motivated by good.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Similarly, if there's a surge of immoral behavior when restrictions are removed, it's evidence that we are so inclined.TheMadFool

    There’s certainly a lot of behaviour by soldiers in wartime that would not happen without the restrictions they normally lived under being removed.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    230


    In the words of Plato; All men desire the Good.

    Yesterday I was watching a true crime documentary where a man, after a history of robbing gas stations and stealing from money from his family, beat his loving 80 year old grandmother to death with a baseball bat because she wouldn't give him more money for drugs and then he baldly lied and blamed it on his friend for years.

    He wasn't mentally ill and he seemed of at least average intelligence. He mentioned that while he was stealing and robbing gas stations that he will well aware of the path he was going down and continued.

    I use to think what you thought.
  • TheMadFool
    4.9k
    Free-will, used in this sense, is a completely incoherent concept, so there's no traction with it here. If the desire to act in a 'good' way somehow drives our actions, then that is part of (not opposed to) free-will because it is us acting according to our desires, not according to someone else's. Thus we are free, in any meaningful sense of the term.Isaac

    The notion of natural tendency is important. If I'm correct then there's a widely held belief that animals are slaves to their natural tendencies i.e. they aren't as free as we are, presumably possess some kind of control over our basic instincts. Therefore, it seems that we actually need free will to resist our natural tendencies rather than give them free reign over us. Ergo, since our natural tendency is to be immoral, we need free will to be and do good, not to be evil, as the free will defense for the problem of evil claims.
  • Isaac
    2k
    we actually need free will to resist our natural tendencies rather than give them free reign over us.TheMadFool

    And from where did anyone learn which of our tendencies are 'natural ones' and which aren't? I've studied fMRI scans and EEG. I didn't notice any labels.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    But the limits to your imagination aren't evidence of anything, are they?Isaac

    That’s just me being diplomatic instead of asserting things as if I know everything.

    it cannot simultaneously be the case that we are all motivated by evil as our default moral stance,Isaac

    I don’t believe it’s our default stance. It’s that we are capable of evil, as so many primates are as well. The whole idea or development of morals was that at any time we can chose to act according to those morals. But then much of this rests on the idea of whether or not evil comes from within or without, ditto morals. But for me it’s morals that act as the policing agent in societies, but we still have to chose to act on those morals.
  • Isaac
    2k
    But for me it’s morals that act as the policing agent in societies, but we still have to chose to act on those morals.Brett

    So what motivates that choice? Why do we choose sometimes to act according to morals and other times not?
  • Tzeentch
    574
    I use to think what you thought.BitconnectCarlos

    I doubt that. You either missed or chose to ignore an important nuance, namely;

    The problem is that people's perceptions are hopelessly deluded, ....Tzeentch
  • Brett
    1.9k

    So what motivates that choice? Why do we choose sometimes to act according to morals and other times not?Isaac

    Why do we chose to ignore our morals when we are moral creatures? I’ll have to think about it.
  • Tzeentch
    574
    Natural tendencies will predominate our behavioral repertoire - what comes natural to us will feature prominently in our conduct but only if there are no restrictions. For instance, it's natural for us to desire happiness and the majority behave in ways that show that is the case. Similarly, if there's a surge of immoral behavior when restrictions are removed, it's evidence that we are so inclined.TheMadFool

    Who is "us"? Does this "us" include all the people who would not act immorally if left to their own devices? These 'natural tendencies' seem little more than broad generalizations. Those may be sometimes useful as a practical tool, but often fail to describe accurately.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    Is it your position that God exists and gave us free will, or that it’s part of our evolutionary development?
  • BitconnectCarlos
    230


    The problem is that people's perceptions are hopelessly deluded, ....

    The guy knew exactly what he was doing. Not all evil is the result of ignorance.
  • Tzeentch
    574
    Did the fellow not have some desire to do all those things, thinking it must make him wealthier/happier, etc? Was he not ignorant of the fact that none of his actions contributed to his happiness?
  • Brett
    1.9k


    So what motivates that choice? Why do we choose sometimes to act according to morals and other times not?Isaac

    We are quite capable of acting on existing inborn tendencies towards evil. Our tendencies towards goodness are not infallible, after all we’re only human. Maybe our tendencies towards evil are older than our morals, or maybe they’re just the opposites that exist within us. Why do we chose? because that’s who we are, that’s the whole terrible thing about free will.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    230


    Did the fellow not have some desire to do all those things, thinking it must make him wealthier/happier, etc? Was he not ignorant of the fact that none of his actions contributed to his happiness?

    I don't know his exact brain state at the time of the killing. I don't know. He murdered his own grandmother with a baseball bat.... I think it was over $300 which he used to get high. I suppose it's possible he could have been thinking "I am doing this in pursuit of the Good" but I think that's extremely unlikely in view of other factors.

    I just don't find it helpful at all to be like "oh well if he only knew eudamonia or whatever or was aware of the existence of, I don't know, higher pleasures.... I'm sorry but it's just babble.

    Read about Carl Panzram if you want serious psychological insight into a sadistic serial killer. He wrote a book detailing his thoughts. The man fundamentally hated humanity. He hated the universe and he had a deep-seeded rage. Understanding this misanthropy and rage will take you much further in terms of understanding evil than someone misunderstanding rationality.

    I also think it's very questionable to give any sort of universal prescription for what 'happiness' amounts to as if it were just the same for every human being.
  • TheMadFool
    4.9k
    And from where did anyone learn which of our tendencies are 'natural ones' and which aren't? I've studied fMRI scans and EEG. I didn't notice any labels.Isaac

    By natural tendencies I mean that, ceteris paribus, humans, like all living organisms, have preferences born out of desires which are observed to be common to all e.g. the universal desire for pleasure and desire to avoid suffering influence our thoughts and actions in ways that make us exhibit behavioral patterns that can best be described as natural tendencies.

    Civilization, as we know it, has been shaped by our natural tendencies. Look at the millennium development goals of the UN/WHO which reflect the concerns of the entire planet - disease mitigation or eradication, reduction of morbidity and mortality, providing education to women and children, empowering women, eradicating hunger and poverty, etc. All of the above originate from our desire for pleasure/happiness and to avoid suffering, a natural tendency.

    As you might have already noticed, many if not all of the millennium development goals can be achieved by controlling and/or eliminating some of what may be described as our "negative" natural tendencies e.g greed in re environmental destruction, gender bias which is an age-old problem with respect to women empowerment. A bit simplified but you get the picture.

    Therefore, the existence of the law must be to put a tight leash on another of our "negative" natural tendencies - a proclivity for the immoral. We don't need free will to be immoral; we're programmed to be immoral. Ergo, the explanation that evil exists because god wanted to give us free will is untenable because evil is in our nature and if free will has anything to do with morality it's that we need it to overcome our natural tendencies and overcome our programming i.e. free will only makes sense if god wanted us to be good, in defiance of our nature.

    Who is "us"? Does this "us" include all the people who would not act immorally if left to their own devices? These 'natural tendencies' seem little more than broad generalizations. Those may be sometimes useful as a practical tool, but often fail to describe accurately.Tzeentch

    Kindly read my reply to Isaac above.

    Is it your position that God exists and gave us free will, or that it’s part of our evolutionary development?Brett

    I don't know if we have free will or not.
  • Brett
    1.9k


    I don't know if we have free will or not.TheMadFool

    My question, really, was whether you were coming at this question believing in God.
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