A Question

How do we spell out Plantinga's free will defense in such a way that:

(i) it's compatible with the claim that God is free.
(ii) it's compatible with the claim that there is freedom in heaven.
(iii) it doesn't lead to other, equally difficult questions. 


(For a powerful statement of the problem raised here, see Morriston, Wes. "What is so Good About Moral Freedom?", The Philosophical Quarterly 50:3 (2000), pp. 343-358. Two interesting papers on the problem of heavenly freedom are: Sennett, James F. “Is there Freedom in Heaven?,” Faith & Philosophy 16:1 (1999), p. 69-82; Pawl, Timothy and Kevin Timpe, “Incompatibilism, Sin, and Free Will in Heaven”, Faith & Philosophy 26:4 (2009), pp. 396-417.)


rups900 said...

Hi ex,

This issue seems related to Quentin Smith's argument from evil, i.e. if God is logically unable to do evil, why cannot we be (or at least some analogous creature)?

Alexander Pruss has a response to this argument in, "The essential divine-perfection objection to the free-will defence", Religious Studies 44, 433–444 (2008).

Unknown said...

I was going to say to read Tim's and my paper. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about meeting condition (III), but one could agree that God has the ability to do evil yet never would and that he could make creatures who are alike in those respects, but that nonetheless it would be immoral to do so. Perhaps there is something bad about making creatures whose disposition is automatically inclined to one's own favour, even if they still, strictly speaking, have freedom of the will. Perhaps it is more "meaningful" if these creatures have to struggle and strongly exercise their will in order to offer their love.

Dr. Rizz said...

Let's see...

God is free.....I would simply deny that God is libertarian free to choose between good and evil and argue that this does not imperil the value of freedom for humans given the dis-analogies between God and humans. For example, God's character (according to the tradition) does not evolve over time. Hence, there is a sense in which God's nature is a given that is not true for humans. Hence, even if it is a good for us to be able to shape our moral character through choices (which grounds the value of freedom for us), this good has no application to God's goodness.

Concerning heavenly freedom.....perhaps there is a time in the afterlife where good/evil decision making ability obtains until each person has formed her character in a predominantly good or evil direction. At that point, maybe freedom to do evil is lost (for those that make the right choices). The value of freedom would then be that it is a temporary means to the end of creatures being able to choose their moral character through a series of moral choices.

Other difficult questions? Hmm.....

exapologist said...

Hi Kevin,

I really like that paper. As you state in the paper, you don't address the issue of how your account fits with an account of divine freedom. However, I suspect that you'll address the issue in your forthcoming book on free will and philosophical theology. I further suspect you'll appeal to your sourcehood account of libertarian free will. In anticipation of what I think you'll say (wink), let me ask this: have you read Wes Morriston's paper "What is so Good About Moral Freedom?" The Philosophical Quarterly 50 (July 2000), pp. 344-358?


exapologist said...

Hi Dr. Rizz,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. The papers I mentioned (at the end of the post) by Sennett and by Pawl & Timpe (roughly) take the route you go here. I tried to address these sorts of replies in my post, "A Short Dialogue on Transworld Depravity and the Free Will Defense". For a more thorough response to these sorts of points, I recommend the paper by Morriston I mentioned in the post (bottom).


exapologist said...

Update: I've since summarized the core argument of Morriston's reply in this post.

Review of Ekstrom's <i>God, Suffering, and the Value of Free Will</i>

  Kevin Timpe reviews the book for NDPR .