How would you respond to the objection that, since animals do not have free will, their suffering cannot be explained in terms of their free choice?

freewill
maxbaker-hytch

(RZIM Connect Member) #1

Hi Max,

Another question has just come to mind: how would you respond to the objection that, since animals do not have free will, their suffering cannot be explained in terms of their free choice? While this might work for culpable humans, it cannot work for nonculpable animals. I’d really appreciate your thoughts here as I could see this being raised as a viable and pressing argument against the free will theodicy.

Thanks yet again,


(Max Baker-Hytch) #2

Hi,
yes, great point. I think that’s entirely correct. The goodness of human free will can’t be the full explanation for all of the various kinds of suffering that occur in the world, and in particular, animal suffering is one such category that I don’t think can be explained in terms of human choices. At least, even if some animal suffering is caused by human greed or ecological carelessness, animals would be suffering aplenty even if we weren’t around, just because of the way that predation is a feature of the animal kingdom. This is where I would look to the angelic free will account that I gestured at earlier. Roughly, the thought is that the fall of (some of) the angels had profound consequences that reverberated throughout reality, including at the level of the way in which the biological world works, such that competition and predation came to be a feature of how the animal kingdom operates. I can’t resist quoting a passage from Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, where he gestures at something like this idea: “the whole philosophy of hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses. even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; if it expands, it does so by thrusting other objects aside or by absorbing them. a self does the same. With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger. “to be” means “to be in competition”.” Of course, the Screwtape Letters was a work of fiction, but the insight that Lewis is expressing here is an important one, and if you find the idea of an angelic fall plausible, I would suggest that it has significant explanatory power when it comes to accounting for the way in which nature is ‘red in tooth and claw’.


(Kay Kalra) #3