The possibility of a free-will defence for the problem of natural evil

Religious Studies 40 (1):23-42 (2004)

Abstract

In this paper, I consider various arguments to the effect that natural evils are necessary for there to be created agents with free will of the sort that the traditional free-will defence for the problem of moral evil suggests we enjoy – arguments based on the idea that evil-doing requires the doer to use natural means in their agency. I conclude that, despite prima facie plausibility, these arguments do not, in fact, work. I provide my own argument for there being no possible world in which creatures enjoying this sort of freedom exist yet suffer no natural evil, and conclude that the way is thus open for extending the free-will defence to the problem of natural evil

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T. J. Mawson
Oxford University

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