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Because Anselm of Canterbury argues that the morally responsible created agent must have the option to choose between justice and benefit, many scholars conclude that he is a proto-Kantian, pitting duty against self-interest and natural inclination. This is mistaken. Anselm proposes a hierarchical schema, prefiguring that of Harry Frankfurt, in which the inclination for justice constitutes a second-order desire that one's first-order desires for benefits should be moderated to conform to God's will. I defend this interpretation through careful textual analysis, then show that Anselm's hierarchical analysis is not subject to some of the criticisms one might raise against Frankfurt's.
William Rowe and others argue that if this is a possible world than which there is a better, it follows that God does not exist. I now reject the key premise of Rowe's argument. I do so first within a Molinist framework. I then show that this framework is dispensable: really all one needs to block the better-world argument is the assumption that creatures have libertarian free will. I also foreclose what might seem a promising way around the ‘moral-luck’ counter I develop, and contend that it is in a way impossible to get around.
In this second of two essays responding to critical discussion of my Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason, I show how an ‘accommodationist’ strategy can be used to defuse objections that were not exposed as irrelevant by the first essay. This strategy involves showing that the dominant concern of reasons for divine withdrawal can be met or accommodated within the framework of divine–human relationship envisaged by the hiddenness argument. I conclude that critical discussion leaves the argument very much alive and kicking, and indeed strengthened as it moves into its second decade of life.
All three of the world's major monotheistic religions traditionally affirm that petitionary prayers can be causally efficacious in bringing about certain states of affairs. Most of these prayers are offered before the state of affairs that they are aimed at helping bring about. In the present paper, I explore the possibility of whether petitionary prayers for the past can also be causally efficacious. Assuming an incompatibilist account of free will, I examine four views in philosophical theology (simple foreknowledge, eternalism, Molinism, and openism) and argue that the first three have the resources to account for the efficacy of past-directed prayers, while the latter does not. I further suggest that on those views which affirm the possible efficacy of past-directed petitionary prayers, such prayers can be ‘impetratory’ even if the agent already knows that the desired state of affairs has obtained.
Daniel and Frances Howard-Snyder suggest that it is possible for an omnipotent being, Jove, to create randomly a world from a continuum of ever more perfect possible worlds. They then go on to argue that Jove could be characterized as morally unsurpassable despite creating a surpassable world. I raise a number of problems for the view that Jove could be characterized as morally unsurpassable when he creates (randomly or not) a surpassable world.
In Finite and Infinite Goods, Robert Adams defends his metaphysical account that good is resemblance to God via an ‘open-question’ intuition. It is, however, unclear what this intuition amounts to. I give two possible readings: one based on the semantic framework Adams employs, and another based on Adams's account of humankind's epistemological limitations. I argue that neither of these readings achieves Adams's advertised aim.
This paper draws attention to the way free choice participates in the occurrence of what is usually called natural evil. While earthquakes are natural phenomena, they injure only those who have chosen to live in places where they occur. But if God could not foresee these choices, then God could not foresee much about the amount and distribution of natural evil. Combining a libertarian notion of freedom with a denial of middle knowledge allows God to be much less implicated in the occurrence of natural evil. This gives some of the familiar theistic replies to the problem, such as Hick's soul-making theodicy, enhanced plausibility.