Last updated: March 13, 2019
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Mackie and Plantinga on Free Will Defense


According to Richard Gale, the Free Will Defense (FWD) simply illustrates the possibility of a human to choose the things he / she wanted to do or act, without putting the blame to God who created their ability to choose although the consequence of their acts could end up doing morally wrong or evil. This ability to choose freely then corresponds into having the chance to do morally evil or end up choosing what he/she thinks is good. In the current state of the world, the FWD in the presence of moral evil simply put a very convenient idea. The humans, capable of using their free will, resolve either to choose to do what they know and believe is right or take the risk of committing a crime that could also be associated committing what is morally evil. The idea here is that the free will of that person runs into what he thinks better suits his current position and if he will gain from the moral evil (which is the result to his actions). The FWD simply put the idea that it is possible to have a world where every human being have the capability to decide what he want in regardless of the consequences and without holding the responsibility to God of whatever the end product is.

Many philosophers have rise arguments to this idea, thinking of every flaw and imperfection concerning to this theodicy. John Mackie, as one of them, try to put the question of the possibility of why God had permitted the co-existence of evil and an higher being who have a better understanding of what is morally good and morally wrong, Mackie tried to distinguish the idea of an omnipotent God who had the ability to make all things as good as possible and then letting his creations (namely humans) to act on their free will and choose doing such imperfections. He could not constitute the main idea of the reason why God would permit this. In response to this, another philosopher in the name of Alvin Plantinga argues to Mackie’s idea by saying that the world which God has made let the co-existence of evil and good possible for the humans to know the difference of the two and let their ability of choosing (or free will) act upon the matter. What Plantinga tries to illustrate also is the idea that the reality of a world created by an omnipotent God that could only permit the good to run on it, is impossible. He stands to his idea that that every good has an equal before it thus, all good has an evil side on it.

Base on both arguments done by the said philosophers, it is evident that Mackie’s idea to this theodicy seemed to illustrate some strong points. The idea of having an all-knowing, all powerful and omnipotent God could have the possibility of creating a world without evil running to every face of it. His omnipotence could have seen beforehand that each made-choice done by the free will (that He had given to the humans) could end up doing morally evil and could have possibly avoided it. Yet, we cannot fully say that God is accountable to each human being’s action at all times. It is still a powerful argument to take of which of the two is correct but on what we had learned in the free will defense is that we see how we could logically put account of our choices and be able to distinguish what is morally good and what is morally evil.



Gale, R. (1990). Freedom and free will defense. Social Theory and Practice, 16(3). Retrieved April 30, 2008 from