Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Right and wrong choices

Here's a thought I had that might have theodical applications. Agents tend to be more responsible when they choose rightly than when whey choose wrongly. For when one chooses wrongly, one acts against reason. And that cannot but contribute to making one less responsible for the action than had one acted following reason.


Sean Killackey said...

No one acts entirely unreasonably, though, as in 'I'm doing this because it is evil.' Even when we do evil, we think some aspect or result of the action is good, right?

Alexander R Pruss said...


Sean Killackey said...

What is the theodical implication you think this has? Also, what do you mean by 'responsible?' I think you mean something like 'culpable' but also suspect that you have something broader in mind as well.

Are you saying that be freely choosing to be responsible, when we could have done otherwise, we gain something that we couldn't have had if God simply created us with complete and fixed certainty that he is the Good? (Could God have done that? What did he do with the angels - it seems that it gave them enough of an epistemic distance so that some were still free to reject him.)

And why do you say that evildoers are still partly responsible? Because, while they have formed some belief that, in some since, the sin or vice they love is good, they still have the witness of the natural law (among other things, such as special revelation, society, etc.) to inform them of what is truly Good, or the best way to pursue it? That's my guess.

But, are they really responsible for the state of their intellect and will? Circumstances have a great effect on a person's beliefs and motivations, and if the will pursues what the intellect perceives as good, then it seems that they are victims of circumstance. They pursue what circumstances largely determined they would think is Good.

On the other hand, when I introspect myself, I recognize that this is insufficient to explain my own actions. I still think I'm culpable for the wrong that I do, since, I almost always, if not always, recognize that the pseudo-good I think is the Good is not really the Good, even while I do, in some sense, think it is. But there does seem to be some paradox here to me. At least it makes me wonder why God would not give us more insight into who he is as the Good. Would this 'override' our free will, or would it unhinder it?

Alexander R Pruss said...

One theodical implication is that good actions tend to have more value than bad actions have disvalue, because good actions tend to be more responsible than bad ones. This gives one reason to hope that on balance the value of actions is positive.

Evildoers choose one good over another contrary to how they ought to prioritize these goods. At least sometimes they are aware of the fact that they ought to prioritize the goods the other way.

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

Ahhh, the burdens of being creatures with a free will.