Poston Abstract
Abstract: 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 freewill. 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 possibility of an Edwardsian defense of social evil that
stresses the high demands of true virtue. The conclusion of this paper is that social evil is
problematic and provides a new ground for exploring the conceptual resources of theism.