Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York
 


Matthews W. Grant

   
W. Matthews Grant

Aquinas and the Free Will Defense

Dissertation directed by Brian Davies, Ph.D.

The dissertation is divided into two parts.  The first part constitutes a critique of the two most popular versions of the Free Will Defense to the problem of moral evil.  The second part begins by defending Aquinas’s claim that God causes our actions – that our actions are every bit as much God’s creatures as anything else.  This claim provides an additional reason to reject the Free Will Defense, which presupposes that creatures can act independently of divine causality.  Yet the claim that God causes our actions also leads to difficulties.  Many have thought that Aquinas’s position entails theological determinism, eliminating human freedom and rendering God responsible for sin.  Without abrogating the claim that God causes our actions, I maintain that Aquinas’s views do not commit him to theological determinism.  Not only are his views compatible with a libertarian conception of human freedom, they leave God no more responsible for sin – perhaps even less so – than does the Free Will Defense.

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