Leibniz and the problem of evil: Suffering, voluntarism, and activism
Thomas, Mark L.
Kulstad, Mark A.
Doctor of Philosophy
This work elucidates elements of Leibniz's theodicy which are non-teleological. Rather than ignoring the personal dimensions of suffering, as some have charged, Leibniz actually recognizes the threat that the problem of innocent suffering presents for a perfectly good God. His theodicy goes beyond the global greater-good defense of the best possible world argument in several ways. He appeals to personal greater-goods to justify some instances of suffering, but he also invokes deontological principles in his retributive justice arguments, his response to the author of sin problem, and his constraint against damnation of infants. However, an evidential version of the problem of horrible suffering of innocents would still threaten his theodicy. This problem persists due to Leibniz's rejection of theological voluntarism in favor of a unified system of ethics for God and rational creatures. Finally, Leibniz's rejection of quietism provides an important resource for a response to suffering. His theodicy thus implies a moral activism whereby the good for each rational creature is bound up with the general good of others in the amelioration of the world.
Philosophy of Religion; Philosophy