Hell and Vagueness: Reply to Sider

Faith and Philosophy 25 (3):322-328 (2008)
Abstract
Ted Sider’s paper “Hell and Vagueness” challenges a certain conception of Hell by arguing that it is inconsistent with God’s justice. Sider’s inconsistency argument works only when supplemented by additional premises. Key to Sider’s case is a premise that the properties upon which eternal destinies supervene are “a smear,” i.e. they are distributed continuously among individuals in the <span class='Hi'>world</span>. We question this premise and provide reasons to doubt it. The doubts come from two sources. The first is based on evidential considerations borrowed from skeptical theism. A related but separate consideration is that supposing it would be an insurmountable problem for God to make just (and therefore nonarbitrary) distinctions in morally smeared <span class='Hi'>world</span>, God thereby has sufficient motivation not to actualize such worlds. Yet God also clearly has motivation only to actualize some member of the subset of nonsmeared worlds which don’t appear non-smeared. For if it was obvious who was morally fit for Heaven and who wasn’t, a new arena of great injustice is opened up. The result is that if there is a God, then he has the motivation and the ability to actualize from just that set of worlds which are not smeared but which are indiscernible from smeared worlds.
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