The William Leonard Rowe's Evolution of Views on Gratuitous Evil and Its Critical Remarks

Document Type : Research Paper


1 M. A. in Philosophy of religion, Allameh Tabataba'i University

2 Associate Professor, University of Tehran


The contemporary philosopher of religion, William Leonard Rowe (1931-   ), with emphasis on gratuitous evil, has tried to show a new version of an evidential argument from evil against God. In this article we, first, try to show a detailed description and documentation of Rowe’s views and, then, have some critical remarks on it. In describing his views, we try to reveal properly the evolution of Rowe’s ideas, according to his critics’ views and his thought reformations. We have shown that the Rowe’s efforts to conclude the existence of actual gratuitous evils from the existence of the some seemingly gratuitous ones is not correct, and that not to find the justification for some evils does not imply that they do not have any plausible justification at all.


Main Subjects

[1]         Feinberg, John S. (2004). The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil, Crossway Books.
[2]         Howard-Snyder, Daniel (1996). The Evidential Argument From Evil, Indiana University Press.
[3]         Lewis, Delmas (1983). “The Problem with the Problem of Evil,” Sophia, vol. 22.
[4]         Peterson, Michael L., God and Evil: An introduction to the Issues, Westview Press, 1998.
[5]         Plantinga, Alvin (1998). "Degenerate Evidence and Rowe's New Evidential Argument from Evil", Noûs, 32:4, 531-544.
[6]         Rowe, William L. (1969). "God and Other Minds", Noûs, vol.3, no.3, pp. 259-284.
[7]         Rowe, William L. (1979). "The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism", American Philosophical Quarterly 16.

[8]         Rowe, William L. (2007). William L. Rowe on Philosophy of Religion: Selected Writings, Evil and Theodicy, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

[9]         Snyder, Daniel T. (1990). “Surplus Evil”, Philosophical Quarterly 40.
[10]    Trakakis, Nick (2007). The God Beyond Belief: in Defence of William Rowe’s Evidential Argument from Evil, Springer.
[11]    Wykstra, Stephen (1984). "The Humean Obstacle to Evidential Arguments from Suffering: On Avoiding the Evils of ‘Appearance’", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, vol.16.