"The Mirror of Evil" Discussion Questions

Eleonore Stump
  1. Stump considers a number of different ways of reacting to the evil in the world.  One type of reaction involves trying to reform the world—trying “to remove the defects that produced the evil in the first place.” Ultimately, she dismisses this reaction.  Do you think Stump is right to dismiss the “global reformer?” Why does she?  And is it possible to sustain this sort of reaction to evil without succumbing to Stump’s problem with it? Be sure to contrast the reforming with Stump’s preferred reaction—a loathing focus on the evil.
  2. At the beginning of her essay, Stump mentions the problem of evil.  What is the problem of evil?  Do you think what Stump goes on to say functions as a satisfactory solution to that problem?  Provide reasons for your position, and consider potential objections.
  3. At the center of Stump’s essay is a faculty she suggests all human beings have—the ability to intuit good and evil.  Do you find this suggestion convincing?  Provide reasons for your answer.  Stump also dismisses cultural relativism as a problem for her view.  Is she right to do this?  Why or why not? 
  4. Do you agree with Stump that the evil in the world says something about what human beings are like?  Consider another possible explanation for evil that doesn’t appeal to human nature.  If you agree with Stump, argue against this explanation.  If you disagree with her, defend this explanation.
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