Ep14-The Attributes of God Ch 8 - Denying Entailment



We discuss different attempts by various philosophers/theologian who try to deny that God's knowing something about a future event in the past entails that God's knowledge can't be changed and therefore destroys Libertarian free will.

Topics Discussed:
•Molina's Response
• Power Entailment
• Criticisms of Power Entailment Principles
• Power to Bring About the Past



Show Notes:

DENYING ENTAILMENT

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“The assumption in question is something like the following principle of entailment:
(PE) if (i) p entails q and (ii) q is logically possible and (iii) p is necessary at t, then q is necessary at t.”

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Molina’s Response

Fredosso: “[Molina’s] reasoning presupposes the falsity of a principle that libertarians might naturally be inclined to endorse, namely, that an agent P freely performs an action A at a time t only if there is a possible world w such that (i) w shares all and only the same accidentally necessary propositions with our world at t and (ii) at t in w P refrains from performing A. . . . [I]f this alleged condition on freedom is meant to capture the sense in which free action is indeterministic, then Molina himself has what seems to be a wholly adequate alternative condition [for freedom]. For he can distinguish what is accidentally necessary at a given time from what belongs, strictly speaking, to the causal history of the world at that time, where the world’s causal history includes only past exercises of power. And consonant with what was said about freedom . . . he can distinguish the principle just rejected from the benign principle that an agent P freely performs an action A at a time t only if P’s performing A does not obtain at t by a necessity of nature, where what occurs at a given time by a necessity of nature is a function of the causal history of the world at that time. Since Molina holds that God’s foreknowledge of absolute future contingents is not a cause of anything, he can consistently hold that Peter’s sin satisfies this principle.6”

Power entailment

“Pike argued that: (P6) if God existed at t1 and if God believed at t1 that Jones would do X at t2, then if it was in Jones’s power to refrain from doing X, then one of the following would have to be true:
(A) It was within Jones’s power at t2 to do something that would have brought it about that God held a false belief at t1; or
(B) It was within Jones’s power at t2 to do something which would have brought it about that God did not hold the belief he held at t1; or
(C) It was within Jones’s power at t2 to do something that would have brought it about that God held a false belief and thus that God did not exist at t1.”

“Plantinga argued, Pike’s argument does not follow because (P6) does not entail (A) - (C). Instead, Plantinga claimed that (B) should be changed to:
(B*) It was within Jones’s power to do something such that if he had done it, then a belief that God did hold at t1, would have been false.

Explain each...

Plantinga claimed that what follows from (P6) is not (B), but (B*), and that (B*) is “perfectly innocuous.” Plantinga reasoned:
Suppose that [(B)] is true, and consider a world W in which Jones refrains from doing X. If God is essentially omniscient, then in this world W he is omniscient and hence does not believe at t1 that Jones will do X at t2. So what follows from [(B)] is the harmless assertion that it was within Jones’ power to do something such that if he had done it, then God would not have held a belief that in fact (in the actual world) he did hold. But by no stretch of the imagination does it follow that if Jones had done it, then it would have been true that God did hold a belief he didn’t hold.”

Causing Abraham not to exist. Explain

“It seems to me that we have two interrelated questions that must be posed regarding Plantinga’s argument: (1) is Plantinga’s notion of counterfactual power over the past an adequate notion of free will?; and (2) does (P6) entail (B) or (B*)?”

“Plantinga “resolves” the incompatibility argument not by showing that libertarian freedom and foreknowledge are compatible, but by weakening the notion of free will in such a way that a person S is free even if S cannot genuinely refrain from doing otherwise given the circumstances which actually obtain.”

More Plantinga discussion

“Talbott proposes a “power entailment principle” (PEP) which demonstrates, he contends, that power to do other than what God knows entails power to change God’s past knowledge. The Power Entailment Principles (PEP) is as follows:
(PEP1) If (i) it is in S’s power to bring it about that p and (ii) p entails q, and (iii) q is false, then it is in S’s power to bring it about that q is true.”

Ostler...“(PEP2) If (a) “P” entails “Q” and (b) that “Q” is true is a necessary condition of anyone’s having the power to perform an act which entails that “P” is true, and (c) “Q” is not true and it is not in anyone’s power to bring it about that “Q” is true, then it is not in anyone’s power to perform an act entailing that “P” is” true.

“Criticisms of Power Entailment Principles”

Zagzebski ...tell me about her. “(11) If there is a Fall, God sends his Son to redeem the world.”

“However, they fail to show that the power entailment principles are not valid.27 Thus, we may conclude that the power entailment principles are at least intuitively plausible and at most are obviously true. Even if the principles are not universally true, they certainly hold for any basic human action such as moving an arm or finger. These are, after all, the kinds of actions where we feel we can genuinely do other than we in fact do. If God has infallible foreknowledge, however, then this sense of ability to do otherwise is merely a facade, an appearance and a mirage generated by ignorance of what God’s knowledge entails about what is within my power.”

“Power to Bring About the Past”

“Bruce Reichenbach has suggested yet another response to the incompatibility argument which attempts to show that free will does not entail power to change the past.28 Reichenbach argues that the “power to change the past” is ambiguous and fails to distinguish between power to bring about a past which has actually occurred and power to change the past so that a past which has actually occurred would be different.29 He asserts that premise (B4) can be understood to mean either: (a) bring it about that God has not always believed that thing, or (b) bring it about that it once was but no longer is the case that God believed that thing. Reichenbach asserts:
The truth of (B4) under the first interpretation [(a)] does not follow—as Hasker claims the truth of (B4) does—from the unalterability of the past, for it has nothing to do with altering the past, but rather with bringing about the past. Now whereas (B4) in sense (b) is true, (B4) in sense (a) is not true, for given the antecedent it is still in my or Clarence’s power to bring it about that God has never believed a certain thing. It[…]”

“The power entailment principles demonstrate that the Molinist response will not work. Power to refrain under the circumstances entails power to change God’s past knowledge and, if person’s must possess such power in order to be significantly free, then persons are not free given God’s infallible foreknowledge. The inference in Argument B is valid. It is no wonder that Plantinga has abandoned his claim that past necessity is not closed under entailment and argues, instead, that God’s knowledge is not past in the relevant sense required by temporal necessity.34 It is to this type of response to the incompatibility argument that we now turn.”

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