Disputed question on heaven and peccability

Those in heaven are both (a) morally free and (b) not free to sin. 

Objection 1: Anyone not free to do evil is not praised for doing good, but anything with moral perfection is praised for its goodness. Therefore anything with the moral perfection of freedom is able to do evil.

Objection 2: Moral law is superfluous where its contrary is impossible, and so if freedom to do evil is not eternal, the moral law which binds humans is superfluous. But human beings existing eternally in heaven are as much under the moral law as those on earth, and are therefore able to sin.

Sed Contra: As Anselm proves, moral freedom can only require the freedom to sin if sin is a perfection of human beings, though it is by definition the opposite.

Response: Freedom is the absence of impediments to the enjoyment of something that we want, and so in the absence of any desire for something a subject is formally neither free nor unfree, but might be called “a-free”, in the way a stone is neither free nor servile.

By “heaven” we mean a sinless state in which one has everything he wants and nothing he does not want. So taken, such a person is a-free with respect to sin and is, in this precise sense, not free to sin. At the same time, such a person by definition exists with complete absence of impediments  to something that he wants and so has perfect freedom.

Response to 1: We praise things to the extent that they achieve the ultimate perfection, but this  praise differs for those on the way and those who have achieved it. Those on the way are praised in a way appropriate to those for whom the ultimate goal is still possible to lose, and so we praise them for succeeding is an ongoing struggle. For those in possession of the ultimate end, this praise is not always appropriate. While it is appropriate to praise the struggle that led to this state, it is no longer appropriate to praise the state in a way appropriate to a state that can be lost.

Response to 2: Law is a principle of moral action exterior to the will. In one sense this law passes away among the blessed, since the will has all that it wants and nothing it does not want, and so has no need of a direction exterior to itself. In another sense the actions exterior to the will is the act of creation that brings it about and the ministration of the angels which enlighten and delight it, and in this sense the moral law never ceases, whether before heaven or within it.

 

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