Natural Compatibilists Should Be Theological Compatibilists

In Peter Furlong & Leigh Vicens (eds.), Theological Determinism: New Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 119-132 (forthcoming)
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Natural compatibilists say that moral responsibility is compatible with natural (or causal) determinism, where natural events and laws of nature determine everything that happens. Theological compatibilists say that moral responsibility is compatible with theological determinism, where God (rather than natural events/laws) determines everything that happens. Some philosophers accept natural compatibilism but reject theological compatibilism, and, in this chapter, I argue that this combination of views is untenable I start with a discussion of why someone might be attracted to this combination of views in the first place, which includes a discussion of the manipulation argument against compatibilism. Some natural compatibilists endorse “soft-line” responses to this argument—responses which imply theological incompatibilism. I argue that such “soft-line” approaches cannot succeed, and along the way I argue that their failure undermines Jason Turner’s recent compatibilist free will defense (in response to the problem of evil). I wrap up by considering some implications of my conclusion that natural compatibilists should be theological compatibilists, including whether my conclusion highlights the “cost” of compatibilism, as proponents of manipulation arguments sometimes allege, and also whether anything follows with regard to God’s standing to blame determined human agents.

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Taylor W. Cyr
Samford University


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