Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences

Living Edition
| Editors: Dana Jalobeanu, Charles T. Wolfe

Theodicy in the Early Modern Context

  • C. P. RaglandEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-20791-9_11-1


First coined by the great polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) as the title of the only book he published in his lifetime, the term “theodicy” has come to denote a certain kind of theistic response to the problem of evil: the question “why, if the world is created by an all-powerful, all-good God, does it contain evils such as genocide or natural disasters?” Named from the Greek words theos (God) and dike (justice), a theodicy attempts to answer this question, thereby vindicating the justice of God in the face of the world’s evils.

The Early Modern Context

The problem of evil is not modern (in the ancient world a formulation of the problem was attributed to Epicurus and clearly articulated by Cicero and Sextus Empiricus). However, it came to be expressed in distinctive ways in the modern period. Whereas ancient and medieval philosophers tended to focus on the question of the originof evil (where does evil come from, if not from God, the creator of all?), modern...

Related Topics

God Evil Causation Freedom Metaphysics Faith Reason 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Adams RM (1994) Leibniz: determinist, theist, idealist. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams RM (2013) Malebranche’s causal concepts. In: The divine order, the human order, and the order of nature : historical perspectives, E. Watkins. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 67–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alston W (1996) The inductive argument from evil and the human cognitive condition. In: Howard-Snyder D (ed) (1996) The evidential argument from evil (Indiana University Press, Bloomington), pp 97–125Google Scholar
  4. Black AG (1997) Malebranche’s theodicy. J Hist Philos 35:27–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cladis M (1995) Tragedy and theodicy: a meditation on Rousseau and moral evil. J Relig 75(2):181–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Descartes R et al (1985) The philosophical writings of Descartes, vol 2. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Greenberg S (2008) Leibniz on king: freedom and the project of the “Theodicy”. Studia Leibnitiana 40(2):205–222Google Scholar
  8. Howard-Snyder D (ed) (1996) The evidential argument from evil. Indiana University Press, BloomingtonGoogle Scholar
  9. Hume D, Popkin R (eds) (1998) Dialogues concerning natural religion. Hackett Publishing, IndianapolisGoogle Scholar
  10. Kremer EJ (2000) Malebranche on human freedom. In: The Cambridge companion to Malebranche, Steven M. Nadler. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 190–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Leduc C, Rateau P, Solère J-L, (2014) Leibniz et Bayle: Confrontation Et Dialogue, Studia Leibnitiana Sonderheft. Franz Steiner Verlag, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  12. Leibniz GW, Huggard EM, Farrer AM (1985) Theodicy. Open Court Publishing, La Salle, ILGoogle Scholar
  13. Lennon TM (1999) Reading Bayle. University of Toronto Press, TorontoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Malebranche N, Riley P (1992) Treatise on nature and grace. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  15. Michael T (2011) Hume and the problem of evil. In: Jordan JJ (ed) Philosophy of religion: the key thinkers. Continuum, London/New York, pp 159–186Google Scholar
  16. Neiman S (2002) Evil in modern thought: an alternative history of philosophy. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  17. Pike N (1963) Hume on evil. Philos Rev 72(2):180–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Pope A (1954) An essay on man. In: The poetry of Pope. AMH Publishing, Arlington HeightsGoogle Scholar
  19. Ragland CP (2016) The will to reason: theodicy and freedom in Descartes. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rateau P (2019) Leibniz on the problem of evil. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Voltaire, Fleming W (2005) The Lisbon earthquake. N Engl Rev 26(3):183–193Google Scholar
  22. Wykstra SJ (1996) Rowe’s Noseeum arguments from evil. In: Howard-Snyder D (ed) (1996) The evidential argument from evil (Indiana University Press, Bloomington), pp 126–150Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySaint Louis UniversitySaint LouisUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Silvia Manzo
    • 1
  1. 1.Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la EducaciónNational University of La Plata, Argentina.Buenos AiresArgentina