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Free Will and Theism: Connections, Contingencies, and Concerns

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Concerns both about the nature of free will and about the credibility of theistic belief and commitment have long preoccupied philosophers. In addition, there can be no denying that the history of philosophical inquiry into these two issues has been dynamic and, at least to some degree, integrated. In a great many cases, classical treatments of one have influenced classical treatments of the other--and in a variety of ways. Without pretending to be able to trace all the historical integrations of these treatments, there is no real question that these philosophical interrelations exist and are worthy of further exploration. In addition, contemporary discussions contain more than a few hints of suspicion that theistic belief is adversely affecting the purity of inquiry into contours of human free will.

Nevertheless, until now there has been no volume systematically exploring the relationship between religious beliefs and various accounts of free will in the contemporary domain. With a particular eye on how the former might be--either legitimately or illegitimately--affecting the latter, this collection fills an important gap in the current debate. Here, sixteen leading philosophers focus their attention on a crucial point of intellectual intersection, with surprising and illuminating results.

352 pages, Hardcover

Published July 5, 2016

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Kevin Timpe

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Displaying 1 of 1 review
103 reviews6 followers
June 23, 2018
Some of these readings are more helpful than others, I'd especially recommend the last 6 essays for my seminary friends, or anyone interested in theology. Chapter 11 by Michael Almeida especially provides a fascinating free will defense against the problem of evil from a compatibilist perspective. Namely, given that on compatibilism though free creatures can be fully determined, it must still be metaphysically possible for them to do otherwise in order for them to be truly free. Therefore, if there is a world where all compatibilistically free creatures are fully determined and freely choose to only do good, there must be a metaphysically possible world where God and compatibilistically free creatures and moral evils freely committed by those creatures exist. Therefore the logical problem of evil is unsuccessful.

I suspect one response to this defense would be that such metaphysically possible worlds aren't actualizable by a perfectly good God which demonstrates either that the Christian theists conception of God is incoherent or that Christian theists conception of God is inconsistent with compatibilist conceptions of free will. One of these commitments should be given up rather than the conviction that a perfectly good God never allows free creatures to commit evil. But I also suspect that Almeida would argue that the proponent of a logical POE needs to then provide an additional argument why we should prefer the conviction that a world with compatibilist free will and evil is unactualizable by God, rather than the conviction that God can actualize a world with compatibilistically free creatures that never freely commit evil. Simply restating the intuition that God never allows evil doesn't help the detractor of theism. And even if such an argument is successful, it is unclear that this would provide a full blooded logical POE.
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