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.

Schwitzgebel on the Immortal's Dilemma


Stephen Law's New Paper on Skeptical Theism

The Pandora’s box objection to skeptical theism


Skeptical theism is a leading response to the evidential argument from evil against the existence of God. Skeptical theists attempt to block the inference from the existence of inscrutable evils to gratuitous evils by insisting that given our cognitive limitations, it wouldn’t be surprising if there were God-justifying reasons we can’t think of. A well-known objection to skeptical theism is that it opens up a skeptical Pandora’s box, generating implausibly wide-ranging forms of skepticism, including skepticism about the external world and past. This paper looks at several responses to this Pandora’s box objection, including a popular response devised by Beaudoin and Bergmann. I find that all of the examined responses fail. It appears the Pandora’s box objection to skeptical theism still stands.

And if a copy should find its way to my inbox...
UPDATE: Thanks!

In Memoriam: Michael L. Martin

Michael L. Martin died unexpectedly in Boston on Wednesday evening, aged 83. He made a very large contribution to atheistic scholarship. His books included the following. Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (1991); The Case against Christianity (1993); The Big Domino in the Sky (1996); Atheism, Morality, and Meaning (2002); The Impossibility of God (2003); The Improbability of God (2006); and The Cambridge Companion to Atheism (2006).

(Thanks to Graham Oppy for alerting me to this.)

Sinhababu's New Critique of the Fine-Tuning Argument

Sinhababu, Neil. "Divine Fine-Tuning vs. Electrons in Love", American Philosophical Quarterly (forthcoming).

Menzel's Critique of the Bootstrapping Objection to Theistic Activism

Menzel, Christopher. "Problems With the Bootstrapping Objection to Theistic Activism", American Philosophical Quarterly (forthcoming).

Schlossberger's New Paper on the Problem of Evil...

...looks intriguing:

Bad Samaritans, Aftertastes, and the Problem of Evil

Philosophia 43 (1):197-204 (2015)

The paper argues first that, by not rescuing innocents in certain ways , God violates a weak Bad Samaritan principle that few would deny. This ‘Bad Samaritan argument’ appears to block the traditional free will defense to the problem of evil, since respecting the principle does not violate or show lack of respect for free will. Second, the paper articulates a version of the traditional argument from evil, the ‘Aftertaste argument’, that appears to close some of the traditional loopholes in the argument from evil, such as the ‘greater good from evil’ defense.

And if a copy should find its way to my inbox...

UPDATE: Thanks!

New Issue of Philo

See the links on the right. The full table of contents can be found here. Can't access the aricles? Subscribe!

Schwitzgebel on Moral Duties to Flawed Gods


New Papers on Plantinga's Free Will Defense... the newest issue of IJPoR:

Otte (165–177, 2009) and Pruss (400–415, 2012) have produced counterexamples to Plantinga’s famous free will defence against the logical version of the problem of evil. The target of this criticism is the possibility of universal transworld depravity, which is crucial to Plantinga’s defence. In this paper, we argue that there is a simpler and more plausible free will defence that does not require the possibility of universal transworld depravity or the truth of counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. We assume only that libertarianism is possibly true and that God’s existence is consistent with the existence of free agents who never go wrong. We conclude the paper by explaining how our defence may be able to succeed without assuming , in a way that is consistent with compatibilism.

This paper argues against the sufficiency of Alvin Plantinga’s free will defense, as presented in God, freedom, and evil as a response to the logical problem of evil. I begin by introducing the fundamental issues present in the problem of evil and proceed to present Plantinga’s response. Next, I argue that, despite the argument’s wide acceptance in the field, a central notion to the defense, transworld depravity, is internally inconsistent and that attempts to resolve the problem would result in an abandonment of the original terms of the discussion. Finally, I consider some potential alternatives for a free will defense beyond the one presented by Plantinga and conclude that the logical problem of evil may have more worth as a philosophical topic than has been thought in recent years.

And if I should find a copy of these in my inbox...
UPDATE: Many thanks!

Resto QuiƱones's New Argument Against Perfect Being Theism

Resto QuiƱones, Jashiel. " Incompatible And Incomparable Perfections: A New Argument Against Perfect Being Theism ", International...