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`I don't know of anything better in the area.' Christopher Hughes, King's College, London

`an authoritative collection, with a helpful introduction and useful bibliographies thematically arranged' Theological Book Review

`Another excellent group of readings in the Oxford Series.' Terence O'Keeffe, University of Ulster

About the Author

Robert Merrihew Adams is at University of California, Los Angeles.

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The traditional arguments for the existence of God have been fairly thoroughly criticised by philosophers. Read the first page
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Collection of Papers 23 Jan. 2012
By Reader - Published on
Format: Paperback
Edited by Marilyn and Robert Adams and published in 1991 by Oxford University Press "The Problem of Evil" is a compilation of essays on the problem of evil. Contributions are from many of the leading theistic and atheistic commentators in the field (Rowe, Mackie, Plantinga etc.)

Within the philosophy of religion the problem of evil is generally recognized to be the strongest argument against theism (belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good God). It asks the simple but profound question, if God exists why is the world characterized by death, disease, disability and a litany of other ills? There are three broad formulations of the argument from evil; 1) the logical argument - God and evil are incompatible, 2) the evidential argument - God is unlikely given evil; and, 3) the existential argument - the impact of evil on belief. Many of essays in this collection are concerned with the logical argument.

Premise A. An all-powerful, all-knowing God could create a world without evil
Premise B. An all-good God would desire a world without evil
Premise C. Evil exists
Conclusion. An all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful God does not exist

Simply put the logical argument asserts that God and evil cannot co-exist. The logical argument is not contending that evil provides evidence against God, or that God is less likely in a world with evil than in a world without evil, rather, it is making a much bolder claim; the claim that God and evil are mutually exclusive, if one exists then the other cannot. And, since evil appears to exist God does not. While it possesses some prima facie plausibility, the logical argument has proven to be doubly flawed. On the one hand, the Free-Will Defence (presented in an excerpt by Plantinga) strongly suggests that even an omnipotent God may not be able to actualize a world with moral good that does not also possess the possibility for evil, while on the other hand, there appears to be a range of potential reasons why an all-good God might allow evil to exist, natural law, free will, soul building etc.

And, though the logical version of the argument has largely disappeared from serious philosophical consideration the problem of evil lives on in the evidential argument which contends that while evil and God are not logically incompatible, evil nonetheless makes the existence of God unlikely. An excellent companion to this text for readers seeking more of this version of the argument is "The Evidential Argument from Evil" edited by Howard-Snyder another outstanding small anthology.

While this is an excellent collection I offer a few thoughts for potential purchasers. First, while probably a moot point for young eyes, the font in the paperback version is small. Second, most of the contributions have been previously published and some are available on-line for free. Third and finally, texts such as this will probably be of most interest of folks that enjoy philosophy and appreciate examining issues from multiple viewpoints.

Overall, this is an excellent accessible collection of some classic essays on the problem of evil. Highly recommended.
32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
A first-rate collection 16 Oct. 2004
By John Davenport - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is an absolutely first-rate collection by one of the world's leading scholars in the philosophy of religion. It is used as a standard textbook by professors teaching philosophy of religion in colleges and universities throughout the English-speaking world. The previous reviewer obviously has no philosophical background and did not appreciate that this is a collection of opposing views on a controversial question. The editor herself is a defender of theism, and the fundamentalist reproaches in the previous review should be entirely ignored.
Five Stars 9 May 2015
By Bobby - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very engaging anthology!
3 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The Problem of Evil 9 Mar. 2007
By J. Pugh - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This volume offers a splened overview of the problem of evil in Christian theology and secular thinking.
5 of 40 people found the following review helpful
"Since P is true, and Q is true, therefore R can not be true." ... EXCEPT P isn't true! 26 Aug. 2008
By Susan B. Shroy - Published on
Format: Paperback
Pike, Chisholm and Hume all assume that man's definition of "evil" is correct rather than God's definition. They then base their entire logical argument based on this faulty "fact", which they never bother to prove.
Their entire argument crumbles because of this faulty foundation.

To argue using Hume as a logical anchor simply dismisses or hides the fact that Hume was all over the place regarding the existence of God during different phases of his life, which also describes his own confidence of his position.

"Where men are the most sure and arrogant, they are usually the most mistaken." David Hume (1711-1776) (Draper?s Quotations for the Christian World #458)

"God is an ever-present Spirit guiding all that happens to a wise and holy end." David Hume (1711-1776) (Draper?s Quotations for the Christian World #5389)

The "Method of Isolation" is an impossible situation to create in reality, so there is no actual ability to test this
method, and as such is irrelevant. Since this method can not actually be tested because the "world" in which it should be tested doesn't actually exist, the test itself can not exist either. Since this isolated world does not exist it reduces the arguments both for and against this argument, to the level of babbling.

The argument of an organic whole does not explain the weaknesses of the method of isolation.

My wife's labor during labor was the most intensive pain that she had ever felt. Watching her
suffer was the second most painful thing that I have endured. The most painful being a kidney stone. Both of these painful circumstances, viewed through the method of isolation technique would be viewed as intrinsic evils because they both included misery and pain. Yet, the birth of my daughter is the most enjoyable memory that my wife and I share.

Not just because this situation resulted in the birth of my daughter, but also because it was a very difficult situation for us to get through, and we accomplished this feat together. My kidney stone was amazingly painful.

This would be considered an intrinsic evil because the situation included much misery and pain, however I have an intensive appreciation for every part of my body that functions properly that I didn't have prior to the surgery.

The proposition stated over and over in the lecture series that
1. God is good,
2. God is all powerful, and that
3. Evil exists and that if any two of these is true, then it is "impossible" for the third to be true is absurd at the very best.

Hume has avoided the obvious fourth element of his proposition,
4. that Hume is wrong.

Hume's proposition also completely ignores any time factor of God. God is going to eliminate evil but He is going to do it on His timetable, not according to man's and especially not according to Hume?'s.

My proposition is this: Man exists, God exists, Evil exists, therefore Hume's proposition that if any two of the above situations exists it is then impossible for the third to exist, is preposterous because it is obvious, proven, and experientially provable that all three of the components of Hume's argument do exist therefore Hume?s proposition is ludicrous. The only thing that has occurred here is that the idea that ~
a) God is good, and
b) any departure away from God is evil has turned into the argument
Q obtains: Q entails P; P is good; Q is not good; and Q entails a state of affairs R such that P does not entail R,
R does not entail P, and Q is better than R.

If you are going to base an argument on only two facts, you should first establish that your two facts are indeed "facts" and not merely opinions. This is never accomplished in this book.
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