Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hasker on the value of free will

I am reposting the content of this passage, which I have posted before, but am leaving out the discussion in the comments, which reflected some of the more acrimonious phases of the controversy with Calvinists I engaged in several months back.

The value of free will does not end there. All sorts of relationships acquire special value because they involve love, trust, and affection are freely bestowed. The love potions that appear in many fairy stories (and the Harry Potter series) can become a trap; the one who has used the potion finds that he wants to be loved for his own sake and not because of the potion, yet fears the loss of the beloved’s affection if the potion is no longer used. For that matter, individuals without free will would not, in the true sense, be human beings at all, at least this is the case as seems highly plausible, the capacity for free choice is an essential characteristic of human beings as such. If so, then to say that free will should not exist is to say that we humans should not exist. It may be possible to say that, and perhaps even mean it, but the cost of doing so is very high. William


Gordon Knight said...

Are there really Calvinists? I know there are, but I cannot think of any good Calvinist response to the argument from evil. So it seems perplexing. And how can a non-universalist Calvinist explain how God can justly damn anyone?

I just dont. get. it.

Victor Reppert said...

Just go to to find a bunch of them. Or put Calvinism into the search box for this site and you'll find a long list of posts I did a few months back.

Anonymous said...

Is there a strong connection between rationality and free-will? Could you make an argument for that connection? I make the argument usually just by analogy.

A person whose actions are determined externally is not morally responsible for his actions.


A person whose thoughts are determined externally is not intellectually responsible for his thoughts/beliefs.

I feel that this argument is too simple. Gimme some sophisticated language to coat it in.

Victor Reppert said...

Well, I'm not sure about this, although the idea is appealing. But if we realize that 2 + 2 = 4, it looks as if this truth, and our recognition of it, guarantees that we will accept the relevant conclusion. I don't see where free will fits into all of this.

Steven Carr said...

'All sorts of relationships acquire special value because they involve love, trust, and affection are freely bestowed.'

A lot of blind people have a special relationship with their guide dogs.

I guess dogs have free will , because many people value very highly the love and affection and trust that their pet bestows on them.

Gordon Knight said...


I was rhetorical, of course there are Calvinists. I just don't see how the view is rationally defensible. Plantinga and Wolterstorf come from that traditoin, but I doubt they would endorse Calvinism.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think what determines our belief that 1 and 1 is 2 is not physical. It's the ground-consequent form of causation, right? if I define free-will as freedom from physical causes, someone can be determined to believe something, but not because of physical determinints, but because of mental determinants like reasons and logical thinking.