Alex R GillhamCorresponding authorORCID id

Threats, Coercion, and Willingness to Damn
Three More Objections against the Unpopulated Hell View

25/2 – Autumn 2020, pages 235-254
Date of online publication: 04 December 2020
Date of publication: 04 December 2020


In this paper, I develop and evaluate three new objections to the Un- populated Hell View (UHV). First, I consider whether UHV is false because it presupposes that God makes threats, which a perfect being would not do. Second, I evaluate the argument that UHV is false because it entails that God coerces us and therefore limits our freedom to an objectionable degree. Third, I consider whether UHV is false because it implies that God is willing to damn some individuals to Hell. I conclude that none of these objections defeats UHV. First, even if God’s creation or allowance of Hell constitutes a threat, a perfect God might choose to threaten us when doing so is in our best interest. Second, God’s creation or allowance of Hell is not coercive and does not limit our freedom to an objectionable degree. Third, although damnation in Hell is possible, God is unwilling to actualize it. In light of these findings, I stand by the conclusion from my initial article: UHV merits further consideration as a solution to the Problem of Hell.

Cite this article

Gillham, Alex R. “Threats, Coercion, and Willingness to Damn Three More Objections against the Unpopulated Hell View.” Forum Philosophicum 25, no. 2 (2020): 235–54. doi:10.35765/forphil.2020.2502.16.


Adams, Marilyn M. 1993. “The Problem of Hell: A Problem of Evil for Christians.” In Reasoned

Faith, A Festchrift for Norman Kretzmann, edited by Eleanore Stump, 301–27. Ithaca, NY:

Cornell University Press.
Anderson, Scott A. 2008. “How Did There Come to be Two Kinds of Coercion?” In Coercion

and the State, edited by David Reidy and Walter Riker, 17–30. New York: Springer.
— . 2011. “On the Immorality of Threatening.”
Bayles, Michael D. 1972. “A Concept of Coercion.” In Nomos XIV: Coercion, edited by J. Roland

Pennock and John W. Chapman, 16–29. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton.

Berman, Mitchell. 2002. “The Normative Functions of Coercion Claims.” Legal Theory 8 (1): 45–89.

Carr, Craig L. 1988. “Coercion and Freedom.” American Philosophical Quarterly 25 (1): 59–67. Feinberg, Joel. 1986. Harm to Self. New York: Oxford University Press.
Frankfurt, Harry. 1973. “Coercion and Moral Responsibility.” In Essays on Freedom of Action,

edited by Ted Honderich, 65–86. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Gillham, Alex R. 2020. “How Problematic is an Unpopulated Hell?” Forum Philosophicum

25 (1): 107–21.
Gorr, Michael. 1986. “Toward a Theory of Coercion.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (3):

Gunderson, Martin. 1979. “Threats and Coercion.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9 (2):

Hetherington, Andrew. 1999. “The Real Distinction between Threats and Offers.” Social

Theory and Practice 25 (2): 211–42.
Kronen, John, and Eric Reitan. 2011. God’s Final Victory: A Comparative Philosophical Case

for Universalism. London: Continuum.
Lamond, Grant. 1996. “Coercion, Threats, and the Puzzle of Blackmail.” In Harm and Culpabil-

ity, edited by A.P. Simester and A.T.H. Smith, 215–38. Oxford: Oxford University Press. — . 2000. “The Coerciveness of Law.” Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 20 (1): 39–62. https://
Lewis, C.S. 1944. The Problem of Pain. New York: MacMillan.
Lyons, Daniel. 1975. “Welcome Threats and Coercive Offers.” Philosophy 50 (194): 425–36.
Mackie, J.L. 1955. “Evil and Omnipotence.” Mind 64 (254): 200–12.

McCloskey, H.J. 1960. “God and Evil.” Philosophical Quarterly 10 (39): 97–114. https://doi.

Murray, Michael J., and David F. Dudrick. 1995. “Are Coerced Acts Free?” American Philo-

sophical Quarterly 32 (2): 109–23.
Nozick, Robert. 1972. “Coercion.” In Philosophy, Politics, and Society, edited by Peter Laslett

and Hon Walter Garrison Runciman, 101–35. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Pinnock, Clark H. 1997. “The Conditional View.” In Four Views on Hell, edited by William

Crockett, 135–66. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Quinn, Philip L. 1988. “‘In Adam’s Fall, We Sinned All’.” Philosophical Topics 16 (2): 89–118.
Rhodes, Michael. 2000. Coercion: A Nonevaluative Approach. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Rowe, William L. 1979. “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism.” American

Philosophical Quarterly 16 (4): 335–41.
Ryan, Cheyney C. 1980. “The Normative Concept of Coercion.” Mind 89 (356): 481–98.
Swinburne, Richard. 1989. Responsibility and Atonement. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Talbott, Thomas. 1999. “Providence, Freedom, and Human Destiny.” Religious Studies 26 (2):

Walls, Jerry L. 1992. Hell: The Logic of Damnation. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre

Dame Press.
Wertheimer, Alan. 1987. Coercion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.