PHIL 332 Selected Topics: Recent Work on the Problem of Evil

Fall Semester 2012 | Day | Burnaby


INSTRUCTOR: David Anderson, david.anderson at


Suppose that you are about to be transported to a new universe, never before witnessed by any human. All you know about this universe is that it is the product of a maximally good, knowledgeable, and powerful being. What predictions might you be justified in making about this new universe, based on your knowledge about its creator? What would you expect to discover about the inhabitants of the universe, and about the conditions of their lives? Would you predict anything remotely like the patterns of suffering and death that we in fact observe in our own world? 

The problem of evil is widely regarded as the single most significant challenge to belief in God. Our focus in this course will be on some of the most recent arguments against theism based on evil, along with the responses to them.


  • Howard-Snyder, Daniel. 1996. The Evidential Argument from Evil. Indiana University Press, ISBN: 0253210283
  • van Inwagen, Peter. 2008. The Problem of Evil. OUP, ISBN: 0199543976
  • Additional material will be circulated via email/WebCT


  • Vaughn, Lewis and J.S. McIntosh. 2009. Writing Philosophy: a guide for Canadian students. OUP, ISBN 0195430549


  • Participation - 10%
  • Short midterm paper - 20%
  • Class presentation - 15%
  • Presentation paper – 15%
  • Final Paper - 40%

 Prerequisites: one of PHIL 100, 120, or 240.

NOTE: Students will be required to submit written work to, for plagiarism-checking and also, possibly, for anonymous peer review or as the basis for class discussion.