J.L. Mackie

J. L Mackie Introduction Mackie’s argument The proposed solution to be discussed and Mackie’s response to it is the claim that ‘evil is due to human free will’ and as such it cannot be attributed to God. Evil should instead be attributed to the free actions of individuals, the power of which has been endowed upon them by God. While it is acknowledged that there exists evil in the world, as a result of some human free will, it is claimed that freedom of will is a more valuable good than any resultant evil. Through God allowing such freedom, He has satisfied His ‘wholly good’ requirement.

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Creating men who always choose good Mackie’s first criticism of this solution is that if God was omnipotent and he created men so that they would favour choosing good over evil, why did he not create them such that they would always choose good? The obvious response to this claim is that to constrain man’s actions in such a way is to critically undermine freedom of the will; to demand that man always choose one way whether it be in the promotion of good or evil is still to control his will and deprive him of his freedom and autonomy. Paradox of Omnipotence Adequate solution

For Mackie, an adequate solution is one that if adopted the initial problem does not arise for you, however the solution may have raised other problems. The only discussed solution that does not hold God responsible for evil in the world is the compatibilist approach to free will. Upon formulating this solution the two major issues are on the interpretation of omnipotence and freedom. Omnipotence has been revealed to be an almost meaningless term by way of the paradoxes that it gives rise to, such as the ability or inability of an omnipotent God to make rules or animals that restrict its own powers.

The interpretation discussed and ultimately the proposal that gave rise to a compatibilist approach was that proposed by Mackie and so there is little that he could criticise about this part of the argument. Conclusion Mackie’s argument that God could have made men always choose good undermines the most valuable good which is freedom of the will. His claim that this implies that it must then be a logical necessity for man to choose wrong instead of good is not accurate, for it is sufficient to be a logical possibility for man to choose wrong.

On this interpretation freedom is maintained, however the strongest objection arises with the omnipotence paradox. A resolution for this paradox can be reached using Mackie’s dichotomy of omnipotence. The resulting solution maintains God’s omnipotence and man’s free will and while there exist some issues as to the credibility of this interpretation of freedom, as described from a compatibilist perspective, these are ‘other problems’ and as such the solution can be classified as an adequate one.

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