1. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    11 Dec '13 23:04
    I would like to open some discussion about the notion of 'infallibility'. For instance, for those who hold that God is infallible or a perfect knower, what exactly does that mean? If you were to place a condition on God's knowledge that you think captures the infallibility, what would it read? As a starting point, I can offer the following. I think it is a particularly strong condition that is at the same time immune from fatalist objectors who claim that God's perfect knowledge precludes freedom of the will. However, I would like to hear other viewpoints.

    Infallibility condition: Necessarily, if P then God knows P.

    This infallibility condition would cover propositional knowledge. The idea that God is infallible may have other components and ancillary claims, such as the claim that God has perfect acquaintance with all things, or some such. I would also like to hear thoughts on that as well.
  2. Standard memberKellyJay
    Walk your Faith
    USA
    Joined
    24 May '04
    Moves
    148460
    11 Dec '13 23:29
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    I would like to open some discussion about the notion of 'infallibility'. For instance, for those who hold that God is infallible or a perfect knower, what exactly does that mean? If you were to place a condition on God's knowledge that you think captures the infallibility, what would it read? As a starting point, I can offer the following. I think it ...[text shortened]... acquaintance with all things, or some such. I would also like to hear thoughts on that as well.
    Perfect knowledge may be the only way one could give free will to another,
    otherwise there would always have to be some control placed upon the
    will. Giving knowledge of love to those with will, will in my opinion always
    lead and guide anyone to always do what is right towards all from top to
    the bottom.

    With respect to looking at your conditions, I'd say you would really have
    to see the beginning from the end in order to make a clear judgments on
    what is really going on, and how all things are working together.
    Kelly
  3. Standard memberSoothfast
    0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,
    Planet Rain
    Joined
    04 Mar '04
    Moves
    2437
    12 Dec '13 03:44
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Infallibility condition: Necessarily, if P then God knows P.

    This infallibility condition would cover propositional knowledge. The idea that God is infallible may have other components and ancillary claims, such as the claim that God has perfect acquaintance with all things, or some such. I would also like to hear thoughts on that as well.
    How about this: "P if and only if God knows P." You know, to be sure God doesn't "know" something that's actually crap…?

    I forget, does the philosopher's definition of "knowing P" actually have the truth of P built in?
  4. Standard memberSwissGambit
    Caninus Interruptus
    2014.05.01
    Joined
    11 Apr '07
    Moves
    92274
    12 Dec '13 05:272 edits
    Originally posted by Soothfast
    How about this: "P if and only if God knows P." You know, to be sure God doesn't "know" something that's actually crap…?

    I forget, does the philosopher's definition of "knowing P" actually have the truth of P built in?
    But doesn't that fall into the fatalist trap? Fatalism is roughly: If God knows with certainty what we are going to do before we do it, we don't have (libertarian) free will (we cannot possibly do anything other than what God knows we will do).

    I think "If P" can be read as "If P is true". P is just a shorthand for P = true. If P was false it would be ~P (not-P).
  5. Joined
    29 Dec '08
    Moves
    6788
    12 Dec '13 07:311 edit
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    I would like to open some discussion about the notion of 'infallibility'. For instance, for those who hold that God is infallible or a perfect knower, what exactly does that mean? If you were to place a condition on God's knowledge that you think captures the infallibility, what would it read? As a starting point, I can offer the following. I think it ...[text shortened]... acquaintance with all things, or some such. I would also like to hear thoughts on that as well.
    I will go in that acquaintance direction that you offered. This God knows what X tastes like, where X is every thing that has a taste.

    Any disagreement?
  6. Standard memberSoothfast
    0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,
    Planet Rain
    Joined
    04 Mar '04
    Moves
    2437
    12 Dec '13 08:002 edits
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    I think "If P" can be read as "If P is true". P is just a shorthand for P = true.
    Yeah, I know that. 😉

    Never mind, I found my answer: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowledge-analysis/

    According to the prevailing definition, for S to know P, it is understood that P must in actual fact be true. It is not possible to "know" something that is false, according to the definition. Thus, my "if and only if" statement would appear to be equivalent to Lemon's "if-then" statement, since the converse "If God knows P, then P" follows trivially from the definition of what it means to know something.
  7. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    12 Dec '13 08:272 edits
    Originally posted by Soothfast
    How about this: "P if and only if God knows P." You know, to be sure God doesn't "know" something that's actually crap…?

    I forget, does the philosopher's definition of "knowing P" actually have the truth of P built in?
    How about this: "P if and only if God knows P."


    The potential problem I see with this is that it seems substantially weaker than the infallibility condition I provided. Your condition is P <=> God knows P, which logically can be thought of as the conjunction of the following two propositions: (1) God knows P => P and (2) P => God knows P. But (1) is an analytic truth, since, yes, the analysis of knowledge includes the propositional truth of P as a necessary condition. So (1) does not add any real content. And (2) is similar to my condition but substantially weaker than my condition. Your (2) states that it is a contingent truth that if P then God knows P. So that means that "If P then God knows P" is true in the actual world. But that is consistent with there being possible worlds wherein this proposition is false. But, that seems problematic for infallibility, since presumably infallibility is supposed to provide immunity from even the possibility of epistemic error or incomplete knowledge. In contrast, the condition I provided does not suffer from this problem because it entails that "If P then God knows P" is a necessary fact and thus true in all possible worlds.

    We could strengthen yours by saying "Necessarily, P if and only if God knows P." This would logically be the conjunction of (1' ) Necessarily, God knows P => P and (2' ) Necessarily, P => God knows P. But, then (2' ) is just the condition I provided; and, again, I don't see how (1' ) would add any real additional content, since it is an analytic truth that P follows from God's knowing P.

    However, I agree with you that it may be needed to add in something that explicitly provides that God cannot believe crap (which would explicitly rule out that God could believe contradictions, for example). So perhaps we could use something like the following sets of conditions (or some such):

    (A) Necessarily, P if and only if God knows P.
    (B) Necessarily, not-P if and only if it is not the case that God believes P.

    What do you think about this?
  8. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    12 Dec '13 08:31
    Originally posted by JS357
    I will go in that acquaintance direction that you offered. This God knows what X tastes like, where X is every thing that has a taste.

    Any disagreement?
    This God knows what X tastes like, where X is every thing that has a taste.


    If this is a particular entailment of a more general condition on God's cognitive abilities, what would be a statement of the more general condition?
  9. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    12 Dec '13 08:35
    Originally posted by Soothfast
    Yeah, I know that. 😉

    Never mind, I found my answer: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowledge-analysis/

    According to the prevailing definition, for S to know P, it is understood that P must in actual fact be true. It is not possible to "know" something that is false, according to the definition. Thus, my "if and only if" statement would appear t ...[text shortened]... f God knows P, then P" follows trivially from the definition of what it means to know something.
    Thus, my "if and only if" statement would appear to be equivalent to Lemon's "if-then" statement, since the converse "If God knows P, then P" follows trivially from the definition of what it means to know something.


    Again, I wouldn't agree that they are equivalent, since mine involves the modal operator 'necessarily'.
  10. Standard memberSoothfast
    0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,
    Planet Rain
    Joined
    04 Mar '04
    Moves
    2437
    12 Dec '13 09:00
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    I would like to open some discussion about the notion of 'infallibility'. For instance, for those who hold that God is infallible or a perfect knower, what exactly does that mean? If you were to place a condition on God's knowledge that you think captures the infallibility, what would it read? As a starting point, I can offer the following. I think it ...[text shortened]... acquaintance with all things, or some such. I would also like to hear thoughts on that as well.
    Actually SwissGambit gets me thinking. What parts of our universe are we to include here? All things past and present, but not the future; or all things past, present, and future? And anyway what does the "present" mean to a being who, as most theists believe, exists outside the spacetime continuum? Even an object within the confines of the universe, but billions of lightyears away and traveling at relativistic speeds toward or away from Earth can be contemporary with Aristotle or Captain Kirk.

    Considering all these things, I think it's hard to avoid the conclusion that God must know, in advance, what all our future actions will be. Is that your understanding? Or at least, is that what you think to be a necessary consequence of your infallibility condition? If not, why not?

    Even if someone knows in advance all our future actions, that does not necessarily mean we do not have free will. If I study everything you do for the next week, and then travel back in time a week to passively observe the world from atop a cloud, does my foreknowledge of what you'll be doing for the next 7 days rob you of your free will?

    What do you mean, precisely, by having an "acquaintance" with something? I get the feeling there is a formal definition that differentiates it from "knowing" something.
  11. Standard memberSoothfast
    0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,
    Planet Rain
    Joined
    04 Mar '04
    Moves
    2437
    12 Dec '13 09:012 edits
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Thus, my "if and only if" statement would appear to be equivalent to Lemon's "if-then" statement, since the converse "If God knows P, then P" follows trivially from the definition of what it means to know something.


    Again, I wouldn't agree that they are equivalent, since mine involves the modal operator 'necessarily'.
    Okay. What do you mean by "necessarily"? In mathematics I don't ever see statements prefaced with that word. Can you rephrase your statement with usual existential and/or universal quantifiers? Make it more symbolic?

    EDIT: Never mind, I see you have returned. And so, I will read your post above -- but probably tomorrow!
  12. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    12 Dec '13 09:27
    Originally posted by Soothfast
    Actually SwissGambit gets me thinking. What parts of our universe are we to include here? All things past and present, but not the future; or all things past, present, and future? And anyway what does the "present" mean to a being who, as most theists believe, exists outside the spacetime continuum? Even an object within the confines of the universe, b ...[text shortened]... I get the feeling there is a formal definition that differentiates it from "knowing" something.
    Considering all these things, I think it's hard to avoid the conclusion that God must know, in advance, what all our future actions will be. Is that your understanding? Or at least, is that what you think to be a necessary consequence of your infallibility condition? If not, why not?


    That God knows what our future actions will be is NOT a necessary consequence of the infallibility condition I provided. That would only follow from the infallibility condition PLUS the idea that propositions regarding our future actions have determinate truth values. For instance, one could hold to the infallibility condition that I provided and yet also hold that propositions regarding our future actions do not have determinate truth values. In that case, it does not follow that God knows what our future actions will be. However, that aside, if a person is committed to the idea that there are propositions regarding our future actions that are true; then, given the infallibility condition I provided, it follows immediately that God knows these propositions. However, I have never seen any sound argument that shows that such knowledge would preclude freedom of even a libertarian sort. That is, I think it is fully consistent that God could hold such knowledge (according to the infallibility condition I provided) and yet we could still be free in a libertarian sense. At least, I know of no argument that shows otherwise. If you think you have one, however, I would be interested to examine it.

    Even if someone knows in advance all our future actions, that does not necessarily mean we do not have free will.


    I agree. Under the infallibility condition I provided (and coupled with, say, the idea that there are true propositions regarding what we will do), I see no sound arguments that show that we are not free.

    What do you mean, precisely, by having an "acquaintance" with something? I get the feeling there is a formal definition that differentiates it from "knowing" something.


    I am not sure yet how we want to define it here, but the general idea would be that there are different sorts of knowledge beyond propositional knowledge, which is what the analysis of knowledge to which you linked addresses. Maybe we can start by fleshing it out a bit through examples. For example, there is procedural knowledge (e.g., you know how to tie your shoes) and also knowledge through acquaintance (e.g., you know your next door neighbor). Perhaps, beyond the conditions on propositional knowledge, infallibility will need to encompass other sorts of "knowledge" such as these and perhaps others....
  13. Standard memberSoothfast
    0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,
    Planet Rain
    Joined
    04 Mar '04
    Moves
    2437
    12 Dec '13 09:312 edits
    Originally posted by LemonJello

    (A) Necessarily, P if and only if God knows P.
    (B) Necessarily, not-P if and only if it is not the case that God believes P.

    What do you think about this?
    I think I'm going to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_logic before commenting.

    I'm a mathematician by trade, but oddly enough modal logic just doesn't come up in vast swaths of the subject, I reckon because the problem concerning "other worlds" (what you call possible worlds) just isn't an issue. There's only one complex number system, for instance, and one standard notion of a vector space. Basically, mathematicians will create one generalized "world" by laying down some definitions and axioms (like a vector space or a topological space), prove general theorems about that world, and then study specific instantiations of that world (i.e. replace the abstract symbols with concrete objects).

    Interesting...
  14. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    12 Dec '13 09:44
    Originally posted by Soothfast
    I think I'm going to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_logic before commenting.

    I'm a mathematician by trade, but oddly enough modal logic just doesn't come up in vast swaths of the subject, I reckon because the problem concerning "other worlds" (what you call possible worlds) just isn't an issue. There's only one complex number system, fo ...[text shortened]... tions of that world (i.e. replace the abstract symbols with concrete objects).

    Interesting...
    Yeah I am using some possible world semantics. I guess the reason why i think some modal operator is needed here is that, at least to my mind, infallibility should provide immunity from the mere possibility of epistemic error, which is different from just providing for the lack of epistemic error. For instance, just that something is free from error does not imply that it is free from the possibility of error, the latter being a stronger condition.

    However, I am open to different opinions on all of this....
  15. Joined
    16 Feb '08
    Moves
    86387
    12 Dec '13 12:19
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    ?.. If God knows with certainty what we are going to do before we do it, we don't have (libertarian) free will (we cannot possibly do anything other than what God knows we will do).
    I don't see how this holds. There could be an infinite number of free will choices but god knows (sees) which one we will choose to take. Doesn't affect out free will in any way.
Back to Top