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Theological determinism and the problem of evil


I argue that the free-will defence need not presuppose a libertarian conception of freedom and therefore need not beg the question against compatibilists. I present three versions of theological determinism, each of which is inconsistent with freedom on compatibilist-friendly principles, and then argue that what generates the inconsistency – viz, that (1) God intentionally necessitates all human actions, and (2) no human has it within her power to influence causally God's will – is entailed by any version of theological determinism. Contrary to widespread opinion, therefore, the viability of the free-will defence does not depend upon the viability of libertarianism per se but on the falsity of theological determinism.

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Andrea Weisberger Depravity, divine responsibility and moral evil: a critique of the new free will defence’, Religious Studies, 31 (1995), 375390

R. Zachary Manis On transworld depravity and the heart of the free will defence’, International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, 59 (2006), 153165

Martin Davies Determinism and evil’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 58 (1980), 116127

John Bishop Compatibilism and the free will defence’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 71 (1993), 104120

David Lewis Evil for freedom's sake?’, Philosophical Papers, 22 (1993), 149172

James Cain Free will and the problem of evil’, Religious Studies, 40 (2004), 437456

Alfred J. Freddoso God's general concurrence with secondary causes: why conservation is not enough’, Philosophical Perspectives, 5 (1991), 553585

Richard Gale points out in his ‘Freedom and the free will defence’, Social Theory and Practice, 16 (1990), 408409

Andrew Pessin Does continuous creation entail occasionalism? Malebranche (and Descartes)’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 30 (2000), 413440

Gary Watson Soft libertarianism and hard compatibilism’, The Journal of Ethics, 3 (1999), 351365

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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