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The Problem of Evil in Nature: Evolutionary Bases of the Prevalence of Disvalue

Oscar Horta


This paper examines the problem of evil in nature, that is, the issue of the disvalue present in nature, and the question of whether or not it prevails over happiness. The paper claims that disvalue actually outweighs happiness in nature. This is an unavoidable consequence of the existence of an evolutionary process in a context where resources are scarce. Because of this, suffering and early death are the norm in nature. The number of individuals who come into existence just to die in pain shortly after, vastly outweighs the number of those who survive. The paper also claims that the idea that the interests of nonhuman animals need not be considered in the same way as those of humans is speciesist and unacceptable, and that animals not only have an interest in not suffering, but also in not dying. In light of this, the paper concludes that the good things present in nature are vastly outweighed by the huge amount of disvalue that exists there, and that we should try to reduce such disvalue.


anthropocentrism; disvalue; population dynamics; speciesism; egalitarianism; harm of death; interventionism; natural evil; problem of evil; suffering

Full Text:



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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2015-001-hort


Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196

Executive Editor: Matteo Andreozzi
Managing Editor: Adele Tiengo
Associate Editors: Rod Bennison - Alma Massaro - Kim Stallwood - Jessica Ulrich
Consulting Editor: Leonardo Caffo
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board: Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Matthew R. Calarco - Gabriele Cambiotti - Piergiorgio Donatelli - Arianna Ferrari - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Piergiacomo Pagano - Paola Sobbrio - Sabrina Tonutti