The Free Will Defense Revisited: The Instrumental Value of Significant Free Will

International Journal of Theology, Philosophy and Science 4:32-45 (2019)
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Abstract

Alvin Plantinga has famously responded to the logical problem of evil by appealing to the intrinsic value of significant free will. A problem, however, arises because traditional theists believe that both God and the redeemed who go to heaven cannot do wrong acts. This entails that both God and the redeemed in heaven lack significant freedom. If significant freedom is indeed valuable, then God and the redeemed in heaven would lack something intrinsically valuable. However, if significant freedom is not intrinsically valuable, then Plantinga’s reply to the logical problem of evil fails. In this paper, we assess three contemporary solutions to the dilemma above. The first is the love solution, which proposes that significant freedom is necessary for agents to love, and loving others is intrinsically good. The second is the soul-making solution, which argues that significant freedom is necessary for self-developing one’s moral character, and having a self-developed moral character is intrinsically good. The third is the derivative free will solution, which argues that significant freedom is necessary for derivative free will in heaven, and derivative free will is intrinsically good. We raise problems against all three solutions and instead defend a fourth solution – the ultimate responsibility solution. That is, significant freedom is instrumentally valuable as it gives agents ultimate responsibility with regards to morally significant acts. Finally, we defend the ultimate responsibility solution against two major objections.

Author Profiles

Frederick Choo
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
Esther Goh
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

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