Compatibilism and the Free Will Defense

Faith and Philosophy 30 (2):125-137 (2013)
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The free will defense is a theistic strategy for resisting the atheistic argument known as “the logical problem of evil.” It insists that God may have to allow some evil in order to get the greater good of creatures freely choosing to act rightly. Many philosophers have thought that the free will defense requires the truth of incompatibilism, according to which acts cannot be free if they are causally determined. For it seems that if compatibilism is true, God should be able to get the goods of free creatures acting rightly without any evil by simply creating a world where creatures are causally determined to always act rightly. I argue that this is not so. First I describe and motivate a compatibilist account of free will according to which, although God can create creatures which are both free and causally determined, the freedom of determined creatures depends on God’s not taking into account what they will be determined to do. I then show how, given such a form of compatibilism, God may be able to create free and determined creatures without being able to create creatures determined to always freely act rightly.



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Jason Turner
University of Arizona

Citations of this work

Why the divine purpose theory fails: a conversation with Thaddeus Metz.Aribiah D. Attoe - 2021 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 82 (4-5):323-336.
Natural Compatibilists Should Be Theological Compatibilists.Taylor Cyr - 2022 - In Leigh Vicens & Peter Furlong (eds.), Theological Determinism: New Perspectives. New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press. pp. 119-132.

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