Social evil is any pain or suffering brought about by game-theoretic interactions of many individuals. This paper introduces and discusses the problem of social evil. I begin by focusing on social evil brought about by game-theoretic interactions of rational moral individuals. The problem social evil poses for theism is distinct from problems posed by natural and moral evils. Social evil is not a natural evil because it is brought about by the choices of individuals. But social evil is not a form of moral evil because each individual actor does not misuse his free will. Traditional defenses for natural and moral evil fall short in addressing the problem of social evil. The final section of this paper discusses social evil and virtue. I argue that social evil can arise even where virtue is lacking. Further, I explore the pos…
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Earlier this year, Indonesian civil servant Alexander Aan posted on Facebook that he doubted the existence of God. He was then attacked and beaten by an angry mob, and arrested for blasphemy. On June 14, Aan was convicted of “disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility,” sentenced to 30 months in prison, and saddled with a large fine. Now many Indonesians are calling for his death.
By punishing Aan, Indonesia is violating its obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees every person the rights to freedom of belief and expression. We petition the Obama administration to call upon the Indonesian government to immediately release Alexander Aan and improve its protections for religious dissidents and nonbelievers.