About this topic
Summary While differing accounts of the nature of human freedom have received considerable attention, many of the same debates apply to how to understand God's free will as well. Central in this respect are concerns regarding the relationship of God's choices to his moral character and other divine attributes. For example, how should we understand the relationship between God's purported essential goodness and his freedom? 
Key works The majority of philosophers of religion are incompatibilists, holding that free will is incompatible with determinism. But many of these same philosophers also endorse perfect being theology, which raises an apparent tension between God's essential moral goodness and his freedom. Some take this to be a major problem for such views; see Morriston 1985. Particular attention is often given to God's choice in creating, a discussion largely influence by Rowe 2002. For an overview of many of the relevant issues, as well as the relationship between divine freedom and human free will, see Timpe 2013, particularly the last chapter.
Introductions Flint 1983, Mawson 2005, Morriston 1985, Timpe 2012, O'Connor 2005
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  1. Divine Responsibility Without Divine Freedom.Michael Bergmann & J. A. Cover - 2006 - Faith and Philosophy 23 (4):381-408.
    Adherents of traditional western Theism have espoused CONJUNCTION: God is essentially perfectly good and God is thankworthy for the good acts he performs . But suppose that (i) God’s essential perfect goodness prevents his good acts from being free, and that (ii) God is not thankworthy for an act that wasn’t freely performed.
  2. Why Christians Should Not Be Kaneans About Freedom.Michael Bertrand & Jack Mulder Jr - 2017 - Philosophia Christi 19 (2):315 - 329.
    Abstract: In this paper we argue that Robert Kane’s theory of free will cannot accommodate the possibility of a sinless individual who faces morally significant choices because a sinless agent cannot voluntarily accord value to an immoral desire, and we argue that Kane’s theory requires this. Since the Jesus of the historic Christian tradition is held to be sinless, we think Christians should reject Kane’s theory because it seems irreconcilable with historic Christian Christology. We consider two objections to our argument (...)
  3. Divine Freedom and Creaturely Suffering in Process Theology: A Critical Appraisal.Andrei A. Buckareff - 2000 - Sophia 39 (2):56-69.
    : The suffering of creatures experienced throughout evolutionary history provides some conceptual difficulties for theists who maintain that God is an all-good loving creator who chose to employ the processes associated with evolution to bring about life on this planet. Some theists vexed by this and other problems posed by the interface between religion and science have turned to process theology which provides a picture of a God who is dependent upon creation and unable to unilaterally intervene in the affairs (...)
  4. The All-Powerful, Perfectly Good and Free God.T. Ryan Byerly - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 8.
  5. Counterfactuals of Divine Freedom.Yishai Cohen - 2016 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 79 (3):185-205.
    Contrary to the commonly held position of Luis de Molina, Thomas Flint and others, I argue that counterfactuals of divine freedom are pre-volitional for God within the Molinist framework. That is, CDFs are not true even partly in virtue of some act of God’s will. As a result, I argue that the Molinist God fails to satisfy an epistemic openness requirement for rational deliberation, and thus she cannot rationally deliberate about which world to actualize.
  6. Divine Freedom and Contingency: An Intelligibility Problem for Theistic Compatibilists.Justin J. Daeley - 2015 - Religious Studies 51 (4):563-582.
  7. Human and Divine Freedom in Bernardus of Clairvaux.Nico den Bok - 1993 - Bijdragen 54 (3):271-295.
  8. Why the Perfect Being Theologian Cannot Endorse the Principle of Alternative Possibilities.Samuel Director - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (4):113-131.
    I argue that perfect being theologians cannot endorse the Principle of Alternative Possibilities. On perfect being theology, God is essentially morally perfect, meaning that He always acts in a morally perfect manner. I argue that it is possible that God is faced with a situation in which there is only one morally perfect action, which He must do. If this is true, then God acts without alternative possibilities in this situation. Yet, unless one says that this choice is not free, (...)
  9. Teilhabe und Gottes Freiheit : Zum Freiheitsverständnis in Hans Urs von Balthasars Theodramatik.Jörg Disse - 2009 - In Edith Düsing, Werner Neuer & Hans-Dieter Klein (eds.), Geist und Heiliger Geist: Philosophische und theologische Modelle von Paulus und Johannes bis Barth und Balthasar. Königshausen & Neumann. pp. 351-370.
    Analyses Balthasar's idea of human freedom as a participation to Divine Freedom.
  10. Divine Freedom and the Choice of a World.Evan M. Fales - 1994 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 35 (2):65 - 88.
  11. The Problem of Divine Freedom.Thomas P. Flint - 1983 - American Philosophical Quarterly 20 (3):255 - 264.
  12. Divine Freedom and Free Will Defenses.W. Paul Franks - 2015 - Heythrop Journal 56 (1):108-119.
    This paper considers a problem that arises for free will defenses when considering the nature of God's own will. If God is perfectly good and performs praiseworthy actions, but is unable to do evil, then why must humans have the ability to do evil in order to perform such actions? This problem has been addressed by Theodore Guleserian, but at the expense of denying God's essential goodness. I examine and critique his argument and provide a solution to the initial problem (...)
  13. Divine Freedom and Creation.Laura L. Garcia - 1992 - Philosophical Quarterly 42 (167):191-213.
  14. Divine Freedom and the Problem of Evil.Theodore Guleserian - 2000 - Faith and Philosophy 17 (3):348-366.
    The traditional theistic philosopher is committed to hold that God has a perfect will essentially, and that this is better than having a free will. It will be argued that God, being omnipotent, would have the power to create creatures who also have a perfect will essentially. This creates a problem for the traditional theist in solving the problem of moral evil. The problem of actual moral evil will not then be solvable by reference to the value of our moral (...)
  15. The Puzzle of Prayers of Thanksgiving and Praise.Daniel Howard-Snyder - 2008 - In Yujin Nagasawa & Erik J. Wielenberg (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Religion. Palgrave-Macmillan.
    in eds. Yujin Nagasawa and Erik Wielenberg, New Waves in Philosophy of Religion (Palgrave MacMillan 2008).
  16. (Re‐)Forming Freedom: Reflections “After Veritatis Splendor” on Freedom's Fate in Modernity and Protestantism's Antinomian Captivity.Reinhard Hütter - 2001 - Modern Theology 17 (2):117-161.
  17. The Development of Kant's Conception of Divine Freedom.Patrick Kain - forthcoming - In Brandon Look (ed.), Leibniz and Kant. Oxford University Press.
    In his lectures, Kant suggested to his students that the freedom of a divine holy will is “easier to comprehend than that of the human will,”(28:609) but this suggestion has remained neglected. After a review of some of Kant’s familiar claims about the will (in general), and about the divine holy will in particular, I consider how these claims give rise to some initial objections to that conception. Then I defend an interpretation of Kant’s conception of the divine will, and (...)
  18. Infimus Gradus Libertatis? Descartes on Indifference and Divine Freedom.Dan Kaufman - 2003 - Religious Studies 39 (4):391-406.
    Descartes held the doctrine that the eternal truths are freely created by God. He seems to have thought that a proper understanding of God's freedom entails such a doctrine concerning the eternal truths. In this paper, I examine Descartes' account of divine freedom. I argue that Descartes' statements about indifference, namely that indifference is the lowest grade of freedom and that indifference is the essence of God's freedom are not incompatible. I also show how Descartes arrived at his doctrine of (...)
  19. Possibilites for Divine Freedom.Simon Kittle - 2016 - Roczniki Filozoficzne 64 (4):93-123.
    I examine three accounts of divine freedom. I argue that two recent accounts which attempt to explain God’s freedom without appealing to alternative possibilities fail. I then show how a view of divine freedom based on Robert Adams’s idea that God’s grace means he has no obligation to create the best world is able to explain how God can be free while also being perfectly good and perfectly rational.
  20. Aquinas and the Problem of No Best World.Keltz B. Kyle - 2017 - New Blackfriars 98 (1075).
    Thomas Aquinas is often mentioned in the debate regarding best possible worlds. Some philosophers believe Aquinas’ writings entail that God must create a best possible world while most think he rejects the notion. Additionally, it is thought that Aquinas’ position falls prey to the problem of no best world. However, a closer examination of Aquinas’ metaphysical views shows that he has been misunderstood in the current debate. In this essay, I first examine some contemporary views regarding Aquinas’ thought on best (...)
  21. Aquinas, Divine Simplicity and Divine Freedom.Brian Leftow - 2009 - In Kevin Timpe & Eleonore Stump (eds.), Metaphysics and God: Essays in Honor of Eleonore Stump. Routledge.
  22. Could God Do Something Evil? A Molinist Solution to the Problem of Divine Freedom.R. Zachary Manis - 2011 - Faith and Philosophy 28 (2):209-223.
    One important version of the problem of divine freedom is that, if God is essentially good, and if freedom logically requires being able to do otherwise, then God is not free with respect to willing the good, and thus He is not morally praiseworthy for His goodness. I develop and defend a broadly Molinist solution to this problem, which, I argue, provides the best way out of the difficulty for orthodox theists who are unwilling to relinquish the Principle of Alternate (...)
  23. Freedom, Receptivity, and God.James L. Marsh - 1975 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 6 (4):219 - 233.
    The practical question about God's relation to human freedom isthe issue between Nietzsche and Sartre, on the one hand, and Marcel,on the other. God is compatible with human freedom, for Marcel,because He is conceived as an absolute “Thou,” not an objectivecause, and because human freedom is essentially disposability, openand receptive to the other. God is relevant to human freedom becauseHe is more intimate to me than I am to myself, because He can re-veal to me possibilities about myself and the (...)
  24. Freedom, Human and Divine.Tim Mawson - 2005 - Religious Studies 41 (1):55-69.
    In this paper I seek to show how God's freedom is not reduced or His power diminished by His inability to be less than perfectly good even though ours would be. That ours would be explains why it might prima facie appear to us that there is a ‘conceptual tension’ between some of the claims of traditional theism and reveals some interesting (well, to me anyway) differences between human freedom and divine freedom.
  25. Divine Nature and Divine Will.Hugh J. McCann - 2013 - Sophia 52 (1):77-94.
    This paper examines the relationship between God and those universals that characterize his nature. It is argued that God has sovereignty over his nature, even though he is not self-creating, and does not give rise to the universals that characterize his nature by any act of intellection. Rather, God is himself an act of rational willing in which all that is has its existence. Because the act that is God is one of free will, he has sovereignty over the features (...)
  26. Eternal Immolation: Could a Trinitarian Coordinating-Concept for Theistic Metaphysics Solve the Problems of Theodicy?Damiano Migliorini - 2017 - International Journalof Philosophy and Theology 5 (1).
    The author contextualizes the Problem of Evil in Open Theism system, listing its main theses, primarily the logicof- love-defense (and free-will-defense) connected to Trinitarian speculation. After evaluating the discussion in Analytic Philosophy of Religion, the focus is on the personal mystery of evil, claiming that, because of mystery and vagueness, the Problem of Evil is undecidable. Recalling other schools of thought (Pareyson: ontology of freedom; Moltmann: Dialectical theology; Kenotic theology; Original Sin hermeneutics), the author tries to grasp their common insights. (...)
  27. Divine and Human Action: Essays in the Metaphysics of Theism.Thomas V. Morris (ed.) - 1988 - Cornell University Press.
  28. Omnipotence and the Power to Choose.Wes Morriston - 2002 - Faith and Philosophy 19 (3):358-367.
  29. Is God “Significantly Free?”.Wesley Morriston - 1985 - Faith and Philosophy 2 (3):257-264.
    In an impressive series of books and articles, Alvin Plantinga has developed challenging new versions of two much discussed pieces of philosophical theology: the free will defense and the ontological argument.' His treatment of both subjects has provoked a tremendous amount of critical comment. What has not been generally noticed', however, is that when taken together, Plantinga's views on these two subjects lead to a very serious problem in philosophical theology. The premises of his version of the ontological argument, when (...)
  30. William of Ockham and the Divine Freedom.Timothy B. Noone - 1994 - Review of Metaphysics 48 (1):142-144.
  31. Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency.Timothy O'Connor - 2008 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    An expansive, yet succinct, analysis of the Philosophy of Religion – from metaphysics through theology. Organized into two sections, the text first examines truths concerning what is possible and what is necessary. These chapters lay the foundation for the book’s second part – the search for a metaphysical framework that permits the possibility of an ultimate explanation that is correct and complete. A cutting-edge scholarly work which engages with the traditional metaphysician’s quest for a true ultimate explanation of the most (...)
  32. Theism and the Scope of Contingency.Timothy O'Connor - 2008 - Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Religion 1:134-149.
    According to classical theism, contingent beings find the ultimate explanation for their existence in a maximally perfect, necessary being who transcends the natural world and wills its acts in accordance with reasons. I contend that if this thesis is true, it is likely that contingent reality is vastly greater than what current scientific theory or even speculation fancies. After considering the implications of this contention for the extent of divine freedom, I go on to discuss its relevance to the problem (...)
  33. Review of William Rowe, Can God Be Free?[REVIEW]Timothy O'Connor - 2005 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2005 (4).
    Consider the idea of God in classical philosophical theology. God is a personal being perfect in every way: absolutely independent of everything, such that nothing exists apart from God's willing it to be so; unlimited in power and knowledge; perfectly blissful, lacking in nothing needed or desired; morally perfect. If such a being were to create, on what basis would He choose? Let us assume (as perfect being theologians generally do) that there is an objective, degreed property of intrinsic goodness, (...)
  34. Understanding Omnipotence.Kenneth L. Pearce & Alexander R. Pruss - 2012 - Religious Studies 48 (3):403-414.
    An omnipotent being would be a being whose power was unlimited. The power of human beings is limited in two distinct ways: we are limited with respect to our freedom of will, and we are limited in our ability to execute what we have willed. These two distinct sources of limitation suggest a simple definition of omnipotence: an omnipotent being is one that has both perfect freedom of will and perfect efficacy of will. In this paper we further explicate this (...)
  35. Hugh J. McCann (Ed.), Free Will and Classical Theism: The Significance of Freedom in Perfect Being Theology. [REVIEW]Garrett Pendergraft - 2017 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 16.
    This volume collects a set of papers that were presented at a conference on “Big Questions in Free Will,” held at the University of Saint Thomas in October of 2014. It is dedicated to its editor, who passed away shortly after completing the manuscript. I will briefly summarize each of the 11 chapters and then offer a few critical comments.
  36. Hugh J. McCann, Creation and the Sovereignty of God. [REVIEW]Garrett Pendergraft - 2013 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 12.
  37. Prostota (Boga - Simplicity of God).Marek Pepliński - 2016 - In Janusz Salamon (ed.), Przewodnik po filozofii religii. Nurt analityczny, Kraków 2016. Wydawnictwo WAM. pp. 87-107.
  38. Book Review. Can God Be Free? William Rowe. [REVIEW]Derk Pereboom - 2009 - Philosophical Review 118 (1):121-27.
  39. Divine Foreknowledge and Divine Freedom.Philip L. Quinn - 1978 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (4):219 - 240.
  40. On the Value of Freedom To Do Evil.Joshua Rasmussen - 2013 - Faith and Philosophy 30 (4):418-428.
    Theists typically think the freedom to choose between right and wrong is a great good . Yet, they also typically think that the very best being—God—and inhabitants of the very best place—heaven—lack this kind of freedom. The question arises: if freedom to choose evil is so good, then why is it absent from the best being and the best place? I discuss articulations of this question in the literature and point out drawbacks of answers that have been proposed. I then (...)
  41. Omniscience, Eternity, and Freedom.Katherin A. Rogers - 1996 - International Philosophical Quarterly 36 (4):399-412.
  42. Divine Freedom.William Rowe - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  43. Can God Be Free?William Rowe - 2002 - Faith and Philosophy 19 (4):405-424.
    Can God Be Free? is a penetrating study of a central problem in philosophy of religion: can it be right to regard God as free, and as praiseworthy for being perfectly good? Allowing that he has perfect knowledge and perfect goodness, if there is a best world for God to create he would have no choice other than to create it. But if God could not do otherwise than create the best world, he created the world of necessity, not freely, (...)
  44. Response To: Divine Responsibility Without Divine Freedom. [REVIEW]William L. Rowe - 2010 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 67 (1):37 - 48.
    Michael Bergmann and Jan Cover summarize the essence of their paper as follows: "We argue that divine responsibility is sufficient for divine thankworthiness and consistent with the absence of divine freedom. We do this while insisting on the view that both freedom and responsibility are incompatible with causal determinism." In this response I argue that while it makes sense for believers to be thankful that God exists, it makes no sense for them to thank him for doing the best act (...)
  45. Defending Divine Freedom.Thomas D. Senor - 2008 - In Jonathan Kvanvig (ed.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion. Oxford University Press. pp. 168-95.
  46. On the Divine Nature and the Nature of Divine Freedom.Thomas B. Talbott - 1988 - Faith and Philosophy 5 (1):3-24.
    In my paper, I defend a view that many would regard as self-evidently false: the view that God’s freedom, his power to act, is in no way limited by his essential properties. I divide the paper into five sections. In section i, I call attention to a special class of non-contingent propositions and try to identify an important feature of these propositions; in section ii, I provide some initial reasons. based in part upon the unique features of these special propositions, (...)
  47. Free Will in Philosophical Theology.Kevin Timpe - 2013 - London: Bloomsbury Academic.
    Natural theology's name can be misleading, for it sounds like what is being done is a kind of theology, not philosophy. But natural theology is better understood to be primarily philosophical rather than theological for it is, most generally, the ...
  48. An Analogical Approach to Divine Freedom.Kevin Timpe - 2012 - Proceedings of the Irish Philosophical Society:88-99.
    Assuming an analogical account of religious predication, this paper utilizes recent work in the metaphysics of free will to build towards an account of divine freedom. I argue that what actions an agent is capable of freely performing depends on his or her moral character.
  49. La noción de providencia según San Justino.David Torrijos-Castrillejo - 2018 - In Juan Antonio Álvarez-Pedrosa, Mercedes López Salvá, Nuria Sánchez Madrid & Ignacio Sanz Extremeño (eds.), Los orígenes del cristianismo en la filosofía, la literatura y el arte II. Madrid: Dykinson. pp. 271-290.
    This article examines the notion of providence in the thought of St Justin martyr. First, it is shown the relevance of the question for St Justin, since it was an important topic in his time. Secondly, the comparison to the philosophical context provides a more complete view of St Justin’s position. Thirdly, the notion of providence is considered in the whole of St Justins’ thought. So, the author can conclude that Christian philosophy requires a particular providence which nevertheless allows human (...)
  50. Alexander of Aphrodisias on Fate, Providence and Nature.David Torrijos-Castrillejo - 2017 - Forum. Supplement to Acta Philosophica 3:7-18.
    To study the influence of divinity on cosmos, Alexander uses the notions of ‘fate’ and ‘providence,’ which were common in the philosophy of his time. In this way, he provides an Aristotelian interpretation of the problems related to such concepts. In the context of this discussion, he offers a description of ‘nature’ different from the one that he usually regards as the standard Aristotelian notion of nature, i.e. the intrinsic principle of motion and rest. The new coined concept is a (...)
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