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Another Worry for The Value of Freedom in Free Will Theodicies

In "What's So Good About Moral Freedom?" (The Philosophical Quarterly, 2000), Wes Morriston pointed out a tension between saying that significant freedom is a great good (in virtue of being a prerequisite for moral goodness) while denying that God himself is significantly free (which seems required to rule out possible worlds in which God freely does wrong).  However, some (Hick et al.) argue that significant freedom is valuable for another reason, viz., that it's a prerequisite for the best sorts of personal relationships. In particular, love has more value if it's freely chosen, where this involves the possibility of the beloved rejecting the offer of love. Could Morriston's objection thus be sidestepped by rejecting Plantinga's account of the value of significant freedom while accepting Hick's account?

It seems to me that the answer is "no", and for the same sorts of reasons raised by Morriston. So, for example, consider the relationships the members of the trinity are supposed to have with one another. These are loving relationships among persons that are morally perfect and perfectly loving essentially. Prima facie, then, there is no possible world in which one member of the trinity spurns the relationship of any other member. Therefore, it looks as though the members of the trinity lack significant freedom with respect to the loving relationships between them. Therefore, Hick's account seems to entail that the members of the trinity love each other in a way that's inferior to the best kind of love.

A similar worry arises for love between God and human beings. For if God is morally perfect and perfectly loving essentially, then even if we have significant freedom with respect to choosing to love God, God does not have significant freedom with respect to choosing to love us. But if that's right, then there is a significant sense in which the kind of love God can offer us is inferior to the kind of love we can offer him.

In short, there's a prima facie case to be made that a Hickian account of the value of freedom fares no better than the Plantingian account.


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