Natural Evil, Nomic Regularity, and Animal Suffering
This chapter and the next explore explanations of animal suffering in which the overriding goods arising from the permission of animal suffering do not accrue to animals themselves. The most common theistic explanation of natural evil holds that it is a byproduct of an outweighing good feature of the world, namely, that the world is governed by stable, regular laws of nature (‘nomically regularity’). If such regularity has (natural) evil as a byproduct (perhaps including animal pain), those byproducts are morally permissible as long as the good of nomic regularity is outweighing. While it can plausibly be argued that nomic regularity is a good feature of the world, even one that outweighs substantial evil byproducts, it is implausible to hold that the animal pain and suffering in our world is a necessary consequence of such a good. The chapter argues that explanations of this sort ultimately fail on their own either because they cannot explain the reality of pre-human animal suffering and/or the existence of animals with mental capacities that render them liable to pain.
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