1. Joined
    30 May '09
    Moves
    28126
    20 Aug '10 20:26
    Suppose god knows that tomorrow morning I'll have coffee and toast for breakfast. Does this mean that I lack free will in my choice of breakfast?

    A while ago some of us agreed that god's infallible knowledge threatens libertarian free will, after bbarr came up with an argument, here:
    Thread 130680 on page 9.

    The crux was premise 4:

    4) Necessarily P. (Where P: God knows that you will A.)

    This premise allows the conclusion that libertarian free will is false, without committing the modal scope fallacy (MSF).

    I've been thinking about 4) and the following counter occurred to me: supposing it is necessary that god knows (infallible, omniscient) but the content, what god knows is contingent?

    In other words what if it is necessary that god knows what I will have for breakfast, but the fact that god knows I'll have coffee and toast is contingent on my choosing to have coffee and toast?

    Any thoughts?
  2. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    20 Aug '10 20:512 edits
    Originally posted by Lord Shark
    Suppose god knows that tomorrow morning I'll have coffee and toast for breakfast. Does this mean that I lack free will in my choice of breakfast?

    A while ago some of us agreed that god's infallible knowledge threatens libertarian free will, after bbarr came up with an argument, here:
    Thread 130680 on page 9.

    The crux was premise 4:

    ave coffee and toast is contingent on my choosing to have coffee and toast?

    Any thoughts?
    I am not understanding how this would work. If it is necessary that God knows you will A; and given that necessarily, if God knows you will A, then you will A; then how it could be contingent that you A? Isn't the fact that you will A necessary through a transfer of necessity principle here?

    The transfer of necessity principle I am thinking of here is the following: if it is necessary that P; and if necessarily, P -> Q; then it is necessary that Q.

    EDIT: Perhaps I am not understanding your counter to 4). You say it is necessary that God knows what I will do, but the content of what I do is still contingent. I do not understand how that could be. If it is necessary that God knows what I will do; and (suppose) in fact I will end up doing A; then isn't that the same as its being necessary that God knows I will do A? (Perhaps that is the point at which I am confused.) Then, from there, the transfer of necessity I mentioned above would lead to the necessity of my doing A.
  3. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    20 Aug '10 21:40
    Originally posted by Lord Shark
    Suppose god knows that tomorrow morning I'll have coffee and toast for breakfast. Does this mean that I lack free will in my choice of breakfast?

    A while ago some of us agreed that god's infallible knowledge threatens libertarian free will, after bbarr came up with an argument, here:
    Thread 130680 on page 9.

    The crux was premise 4:
    ...[text shortened]... ave coffee and toast is contingent on my choosing to have coffee and toast?

    Any thoughts?
    God not only allegedly knows what you will have for breakfast, but he is also allegedly the first cause from which all subsequent causal chains originate. It's not just that he knows as an impartial observer that you'll have coffee and toast for breakfast, but that he actively created the universe in such a fashion that your choice of breakfast is an inevitable result. Being omnipotent, he could have created the universe differently, resulting in different causal chains, which would have led to you having Raisin Bran instead. But he didn't. In all his wisdom, he approved of a universe where you ended up having toast and coffee.
  4. Joined
    30 May '09
    Moves
    28126
    20 Aug '10 21:441 edit
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    I am not understanding how this would work. If it is necessary that God knows you will A; and given that necessarily, if God knows you will A, then you will A; then how it could be contingent that you A? Isn't the fact that you will A necessary through a transfer of necessity principle here?

    The transfer of necessity principle I am thinking of here there, the transfer of necessity I mentioned above would lead to the necessity of my doing A.
    To be honest, I keep flipping from one view to the other, like looking at a Necker Cube.

    My counter though is that to say it is necessary that God knows you will A might be question begging. Necessarily god knows what you will do, but if under libertarian free will this is your choice, then the content of god's knowledge is contingent on your choice. So, that god knows is necessary but what god knows is contingent.

    Does that help?
  5. Joined
    30 May '09
    Moves
    28126
    20 Aug '10 21:45
    Originally posted by rwingett
    God not only allegedly knows what you will have for breakfast, but he is also allegedly the first cause from which all subsequent causal chains originate. It's not just that he knows as an impartial observer that you'll have coffee and toast for breakfast, but that he actively created the universe in such a fashion that your choice of breakfast is an inevit ...[text shortened]... n't. In all his wisdom, he approved of a universe where you ended up having toast and coffee.
    But that presupposes god created a deterministic universe.
  6. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    20 Aug '10 21:54
    Originally posted by Lord Shark
    But that presupposes god created a deterministic universe.
    How could it have been otherwise?
  7. Joined
    30 May '09
    Moves
    28126
    20 Aug '10 22:00
    Originally posted by rwingett
    How could it have been otherwise?
    Well I don't believe in god or determinism so maybe I'm not the best person to ask 🙂
  8. Donationbbarr
    Chief Justice
    Center of Contention
    Joined
    14 Jun '02
    Moves
    17381
    20 Aug '10 22:05
    Originally posted by rwingett
    How could it have been otherwise?
    Perhaps God created a universe wherein some events do not have causally sufficient antecedents, but He still knows that they will occur.
  9. Joined
    15 Sep '04
    Moves
    7051
    20 Aug '10 22:10
    Originally posted by Lord Shark
    Suppose god knows that tomorrow morning I'll have coffee and toast for breakfast. Does this mean that I lack free will in my choice of breakfast?

    A while ago some of us agreed that god's infallible knowledge threatens libertarian free will, after bbarr came up with an argument, here:
    Thread 130680 on page 9.

    The crux was premise 4:
    ...[text shortened]... ave coffee and toast is contingent on my choosing to have coffee and toast?

    Any thoughts?
    Yes, I think that is possible if we interpret necessity restrictively and limit the accessibility relation across worlds. So think of a set of worlds:

    w1: you eat toast and God foresees this.
    w2: you eat egg and God foresees this.

    In that case, we say say that P is necessary because for each world, God foresees what you eat. There is no counterexample in which you eat something and God does not foresee it. But it is not required that A be the same thing across worlds. If this were S5, and we allowed w1 R w2 and w2 R w1 (a transitive and symmetrical relation across both worlds), then we would have a contradiction -- A would have to be the same.

    When a theist talks about God's omniscience, I think it is in the weaker sense above -- God sees what you will do (it is conditional upon what you do). The error of some people is, as A.J. Ayer himself says, to think of necessity as something coercive (although this admittedly was a criticism of libertarians too.)
  10. Donationbbarr
    Chief Justice
    Center of Contention
    Joined
    14 Jun '02
    Moves
    17381
    20 Aug '10 22:15
    Originally posted by Lord Shark
    To be honest, I keep flipping from one view to the other, like looking at a Necker Cube.

    My counter though is that to say it is necessary that God knows you will A might be question begging. Necessarily god knows what you will do, but if under libertarian free will this is your choice, then the content of god's knowledge is contingent on your ch ...[text shortened]... [b]that
    god knows is necessary but what god knows is contingent.

    Does that help?[/b]
    I'm totally confused. I thought the claim at issue was not simply that necessarily God knows, but that necessarily God knows every knowable proposition (or that necessarily God knows the truth-value of every propositions, or something similar). But then it seems there is no space for the move you're trying to make. Again, however, I'm totally confused, so...
  11. Joined
    15 Sep '04
    Moves
    7051
    20 Aug '10 22:20
    Originally posted by bbarr
    I'm totally confused. I thought the claim at issue was not simply that necessarily God knows, but that necessarily God knows every knowable proposition (or that necessarily God knows the truth-value of every propositions, or something similar). But then it seems there is no space for the move you're trying to make. Again, however, I'm totally confused, so...
    I'm totally confused. I thought the claim at issue was not simply that necessarily God knows, but that necessarily God knows every knowable proposition (or that necessarily God knows the truth-value of every propositions, or something similar). But then it seems there is no space for the move you're trying to make. Again, however, I'm totally confused, so...

    Yes, I am not changing anything. I am just saying that we can interpret necessity differently and in a way compatible with a libertarian view of free will. To say that God foreknows that you will eat A does not have to mean that not-A is impossible -- which would contradict the libertarian view; it means that it is impossible in the world in which God foreknows A. Perhaps God could foreknow not-A in a different world (obviously the one in which you eat not-A). That would not limit the necessity of God's foreknowledge.
  12. Joined
    30 May '09
    Moves
    28126
    20 Aug '10 22:21
    Originally posted by Conrau K
    Yes, I think that is possible if we interpret necessity restrictively and limit the accessibility relation across worlds. So think of a set of worlds:

    w1: you eat toast and God foresees this.
    w2: you eat egg and God foresees this.

    In that case, we say say that P is necessary because for each world, God foresees what you eat. There is no counterexa ...[text shortened]... necessity as something coercive (although this admittedly was a criticism of libertarians too.)
    That's very interesting. In order to understand why A would have to be the same in S5 I'll have to look into frames and accessibility relations in more detail because it is not immediately clear to me why this is so. Any help or clarification will be gratefully received.
  13. Joined
    30 May '09
    Moves
    28126
    20 Aug '10 22:26
    Originally posted by bbarr
    I'm totally confused. I thought the claim at issue was not simply that necessarily God knows, but that necessarily God knows every knowable proposition (or that necessarily God knows the truth-value of every propositions, or something similar). But then it seems there is no space for the move you're trying to make. Again, however, I'm totally confused, so...
    I'm totally confused too I suspect.

    I think the nub of it is what it is about god's knowledge that is necessary. As Conrau said, it is not true in all possible worlds that I had coffee and toast, what is true at all worlds in W is that god knows what I ate.
  14. Joined
    15 Sep '04
    Moves
    7051
    20 Aug '10 22:351 edit
    Originally posted by Lord Shark
    That's very interesting. In order to understand why A would have to be the same in S5 I'll have to look into frames and accessibility relations in more detail because it is not immediately clear to me why this is so. Any help or clarification will be gratefully received.
    In order to understand why A would have to be the same in S5 I'll have to look into frames and accessibility relations in more detail because it is not immediately clear to me why this is so. Any help or clarification will be gratefully received.

    Perhaps I am wrong on that point. I will have to revisit these. I think there is an argument that necessity can be interpreted restrictively but I might be wrong about S5.

    Oh well, off to vote now. Could vote one way or another. Only God knows. 😀
  15. Joined
    19 Jul '08
    Moves
    77354
    20 Aug '10 22:55
    God is able to foretell the future. He describes himself as “the One telling from the beginning the finale, and from long ago the things that have not been done; the One saying, ‘My own counsel will stand, and everything that is my delight I shall do.’” (Isaiah 46:10) Down through human history, God has had his prophecies recorded to show that he can exercise his foreknowledge and foretell events before they take place.
    The Scriptures reveal that there are situations in which God chooses not to foreknow the outcome. Just before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he declared: “I am quite determined to go down that I may see whether they act altogether according to the outcry over it that has come to me, and, if not, I can get to know it.” (Genesis 18:21) This text clearly shows us that God did not foreknow the extent of the depravity in those cities before he investigated matters.
    True, God can foresee certain events, but in many cases, he has chosen not to use his foreknowledge. Because God is almighty, he is free to exercise his abilities as he wishes, not according to the wishes of imperfect humans.
    Man was given free will, being created “in God’s image.” (Genesis 1:27) Free will was indispensable if humans were to honor and serve God out of love, not as robots with every movement determined beforehand. Love displayed by intelligent, free creatures would enable God to refute unjust accusations. He says: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.”—Proverbs 27:11.
    If God’s servants were predestined—or programmed, so to speak—could not the genuineness of their love for their Creator be called into question? Also, would it not be contrary to God’s impartiality for him to make a predetermined choice of persons destined to glory and happiness without taking their individual merits into account? Moreover, if some receive such preferential treatment, while others are destined to eternal punishment, this would hardly arouse sincere feelings of gratitude in the “elect,” or “chosen ones.”—Genesis 1:27; Job 1:8; Acts 10:34, 35.
Back to Top