Type: Analysis
Pages: 6 | Words: 1530
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According to Mackie, the problem of evil is for those who believe that an omnipotent and wholly God exists. Thus, the logical problem of evil originates from three features that are attributed to a true God by most theists. The three features are: “God is omnipotent; God is perfectly good, and God is omniscient (Mackie 200). The logical problem of evil here is that evil would not be allowed by such a God. Mackie (201) argues that evil is always eliminated by good things. Moreover, since the capabilities of an omnipotent being are limitless evil would not be allowed by a good omnipotent being.

An inconsistent set refers to a set of premises that cannot be all true at the same time. In Mackie’s argument the logical problem of evil arises due to inconsistency in beliefs that “God is omnipotent; God is wholly good; and yet evil exists”. Therefore, he argues that evil can be completely eliminated by good omnipotent thing. This implies that the existence of evil and a good omnipotent thing is incompatible (Mackie 201). Thus, Mackie (201) argues that if one of the prepositions is negated, the logic problem of evil does not arise. The prepositions, in this case, are: Good is wholly good; God is omnipotent; and evil exists. Moreover, Mackie (201) argues that negation of one of the assumptions that good is opposed to evil; and that the capabilities of omnipotent thing are limitless can resolve the logic problem of evil.

According to Mackie (201), a negation of the belief that God is omnipotent or maintaining omnipotence but at the same time severely restrict things what omnipotent being can do is one of the adequate solutions to the problem of evil. He also says that the other adequate solution is an assertion that evil is an illusion. Another adequate solution to the evil problem is arguing that “evil is merely the privation of good” and as such evil that is opposed to good does not exist .

Mackie (208) argues that human free will is the best solution to the logic problem of evil. He asserts that God should not be blamed for evil but rather the independent actions of individuals should. Thus, he argues that the coexistence of freewill and evil is good rather than a world free of evil and with no free will. According to Mackie (208) evil and good are in certain levels and a solution to an evil is one level higher than the evil being resolved. For instance, he states that freedom (third order good) is a solution to cruelty (second order evil).  He argues that humans with free will are better than those whose actions are predetermined. However, Mackie (208) claims that this solution is unsatisfactory because its notion of free will is incoherent. For instance, he argues that the notion that omnipotent God can create humans with free will is incoherent. This will imply that humans cannot be controlled by God and hence God will no longer be omnipotent.

Van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument for Incompatibilism

The consequence argument for incompatibilism in accordance to van Inwagen asserts that “determinism is incompatible with moral responsibility”. This conclusion is based on three premises and one conclusion that results from the first two premises. The first premise argues that if determinism is true then an individual’s acts are implied logically by natural laws and accurate description of prior states and events . According to van Inwagen, “Determinism is quite simply the thesis that the past determines a unique future.” The second premise argues that prior events and laws of nature are not up to an individual. From these two premises, van Inwagen concluded that an individual is not responsible for his/her present choice (Suster 77). This implies that an individual does not have free will. Based on this conclusion, the third premise asserts that an individual will therefore not be morally responsible for his acts since he/she has no control over choice that is already predetermined. This argument assumes that existence of determinism overrules the ability of an individual to make morally responsible decision since he/she lacks free will. Thus, the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP) argues that an individual can only be morally responsible for his/her action if the individual had a choice to do it otherwise.  This argument was refuted by Frankfurt who said “it is possible for circumstance to arise in which it is clear that a person could have done yet also clear that he is morally responsible for his deed”.   Even though Frankfurt style case can absolve its subject from moral responsibility if PAP is valid, it however does not absolve an individual from moral responsibility and hence PAP is false.  

According to van Inwagen, untouchable facts are those which an individual can do anything about them such as changing the distant past or changing the arithmetical properties of a number. Thus one has no free causal power over untouchable propositions. Therefore, in the consequence argument for incompatibilism, natural laws and prior states and events are untouchable propositions that cannot be altered by an individual. The consequence argument of incompatilism is based on the “rule beta” which states

From Np and N(pq), we may infer Nq

(where “Np” stands for “p and no one has or ever had any choice about whether p”) [Van Inwagen 1983.]

From “p and no one has or ever had any choice about whether p” and “p implies q and no one has or ever had any choice about whether p implies q” deduce “q and no one has or ever had any choice about whether q”

Clark and Rea (60) states that this rule is valid in logics that are usually counterfactual and hence can be used in argument for incompatibilism in a consequence style by letting p0 to be the world’s total state at some moment of time in the distant past, L the laws of nature and q some future contingent proposition about creaturely free action, then

  1. Np0 (premise)
  2. NL (premise)
  3. %u25A1(p0&L⊃ q), (consequence of determinism)
  4. Therefore: Nq (by Rule Beta) (Clark and Rea 60)

 Based on this rule van Inwagen concluded that any libertarian who accepts beta rule ought to also accept that it is rare for one to exhibit free will. Van Inwagen also used consequence argument logic and Beta principle to devise the Beta prime rule (Clark and Rea 60). According to van Inwagen


From N x,p and N x,(pÉq) deduce N x,q

Where “N x,p” can be read as “p and x now has no choice about whether p”.

Thus Inwagen devised four possible responses to the consequence argument. First, he argued that if the beta prime is valid then one cannot perform an act that he/she considers as indefensible. The second response was that if the rule beta is true, then the rule beta prime is true.  The third response was that the incompatibility between free will and determinism was only valid if the beta is true. The final response was that if incompatibility between free will and determinism exists then one cannot perform acts that are considered indefensible.

The First Cause Argument

The first cause argument is also referred to as the cosmological argument. The argument was devised by Thomas Aquinas who said that the existence of God has no prior proof (Warburton 17). This implies that there is a need to appeal to experience to determine the falsity or truth of the existence of God. He further argued that this does not imply that experience is irrelevant to discovering the meaning of a given statement. He also asserted under some circumstances, the key term ought to be defined and this may depend on experience.

However, Aquinas argued that the existence of God has several posterior proofs. This implies that evidence gathered from observation and experience indicates that God exists. Aquinas provided five posterior proofs for the existence of God. The first cause argument asserts that effects exist and that each effect has a cause. Aquinas considered the universe to be an effect. This implies that the universe has a cause in this case God.

The first premise in this argument is that a series of events exist in the universe. The second premise asserts that each event has a cause. This premise assumes that each event is the cause of the event coming after it and the effect of the preceding event. The third premise asserts that each chain of events has a starting point. The fourth premise asserts that the first cause is uncaused. From this, it is concluded that God exists.

One objection to the first cause argument is the more to being God objection. This objection argues that the conclusion that God exists does not logically follow the fourth premise. This implies that the conclusion is not directly deduced from the fourth premise. Therefore, the conclusion might be false even if the fourth premise was true. This is because God is not only the first cause but also omnipotent, wholly good, omniscient and other many things that are necessary to be God. The first cause argument is lacking because it does not show how the first cause would have the additional attributes. Thus, it is invalid to infer God’s existence from a first cause.

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