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Showing posts from March, 2012

Morriston on Sourcehood Accounts of Libertarianism and the Free Will Defense

Suppose one replies to the criticism of Plantinga's free will defense we've beendiscussing as follows:

Since God is morally perfect essentially, he is unable to sin. However, he's still free and morally responsible. For even though he's unable to do other than what is good, he is the ultimate source of his actions. That is, he acts on his own reasons, and nothing external to God determines his actions. By contrast, if God created persons with a morally perfect nature, they could not be free or responsible. For such beings would not be the ultimate source of their actions. Rather, God would be the ultimate source, as he would be an external cause of their nature, which in turn would ensure that their actions are always good. The only way for God to create free creatures, then, is to create them with the ability to choose between good and evil. Therefore, while the freedom of created beings requires the ability to do evil, God's freedom does not.

Let's call this Th…

Morriston's Paper on Plantinga's EAAN

In "Must an 'Origins Agnostic' Be Skeptical About Everything?" (Philo 11:2 (2008), pp. 165-176), Wes Morriston critiques the part of Plantinga's EAAN addressed to those who (like myself) are agnostic about the ultimate source or cause of our cognitive faculties. As with everything he writes, it's well worth reading.  Here is the link.

A Question

How do we spell out Plantinga's free will defense in such a way that:

(i) it's compatible with the claim that God is free.
(ii) it's compatible with the claim that there is freedom in heaven.
(iii) it doesn't lead to other, equally difficult questions. 

(For a powerful statement of the problem raised here, see Morriston, Wes. "What is so Good About Moral Freedom?", The Philosophical Quarterly 50:3 (2000), pp. 343-358. Two interesting papers on the problem of heavenly freedom are: Sennett, James F. “Is there Freedom in Heaven?,” Faith & Philosophy 16:1 (1999), p. 69-82; Pawl, Timothy and Kevin Timpe, “Incompatibilism, Sin, and Free Will in Heaven”, Faith & Philosophy 26:4 (2009), pp. 396-417.)

Quote of the Day

One friend replied to [our] claim like this: "You agree that it is possible for one
essence to be transworld depraved, don't you? And you agree that it is possible for two
essences to be transworld depraved, right? Thinking things through from this starting
point, isn't it reasonable to believe that it is possible that every essence suffers from
transworld depravity?" How should we answer this question? Well, note that our friend
encourages us to think that for every natural number n, it is possible for there to be n
essences that suffer from transworld depravity. We concede that it is possible that there
are an infinite, nay, an indenumerable number of transworld depraved essences. Should
we infer that it is possible that every essence suffers from transworld depravity? Of
course not. Consider the following analogue to our friend’s reasoning: "I'm going to
show you that it is reasonable to believe that at no possible world do Bill and Jane marry.
You can imagine one w…

On the Modal Analysis of Libertarian Freedom in Plantinga's Free Will Defense

Central to Plantinga's free will defense is his notion of significant freedom, which is, roughly, libertarian freedom with respect to moral actions. Plantinga attempts to capture a necessary condition of significant freedom in terms of the actions of a given agent at different possible worlds. Very roughly, an agent S is significantly free with respect to a moral action A only if there is a metaphysically possible world W at which S performs A and there is a distinct metaphysically possible world W' at which S does not perform A.
I worry that possible-worlds analyses of libertarian freedom -- like possible-worlds analyses of most things -- are too coarse-grained to capture the essence of the notion. So, for example, I'm inclined to think that an omnipotent and morally perfect being could be significantly free even if there is no metaphysically possible world at which such a being performs a wrong action. It seems to me that such a being would have the power or the ability

Is Plantinga's Free Will Defense A Successful Reply to the Logical Problem of Evil?

I've lost my grip on why Plantinga's free will defense (FWD) is supposed to be a successful reply to the logical problem of evil. Perhaps someone can straighten me out.

The core of Plantinga's FWD is the claim that there is a metaphysically possible world at which every possible free creature God could've created would freely do wrong at least once in their life.  Call this thesis 'Possible Unrestricted Transworld Depravity' (PUTWD). Now it seems to me that a minimal requirement for the success of Plantinga's FWD is for PUTWD to be a live epistemic possibility. But I'm not seeing why I should think it's successful in even this weak sense. For it seems not implausible to me that at every possible world at which God exists, there are at least some free creatures God could've created that aren't transworld depraved (or more weakly: such a thesis seems to be at least slightly more plausible than Plantinga's PUTWD). So, for example,…