Aquinas on Free Will

Aquinas distinguished between two kinds of volition. First, there is the inevitable attraction to those things that you deem perfectly good or desirable. You always will choose what you perceive as perfectly fair, for instance.  Aquinas would say you are not truly “free” to choose otherwise.

Second, there are those things that are deemed partially good or partially desirable.  In those cases, human beings have the capacity to evaluate the pros and cons of each – to deliberate. It is in the weighing of those pros and cons that humanity exerts something akin to freedom.  Of course, we each deliberate as best we can with the facts at our disposal, subconsciously applying our preconceptions and biases.  Although we make a "choice", it is not "free" in a manner for which we can be held morally responsible. 

“Aquinas did not talk about “free will”; the term libera voluntas is found only twice in all his works, and then only in a nontechnical usage.  Rather he spoke of free choice or decision (liberum arbitrium).”[1]

If we do not have free will, and if God is aware of this fact and is reasonably fair-minded, then universal salvation is a reality.  If it is heretical to think so, then St. Aquinas's position is too.    

[1] Encyclopedia of Philosophy Vol. 8, p. 108