Providence and Sovereignty Archives

More Generally: Philosophy (523) » Philosophical Theology (39) » Divine Attributes (27)
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February 14, 2019

Molinism and the Logic of Subjunctive Conditionals

The following is a plausible principle of the logic of subjunctive conditionals: ◊(p□→q), ◊p ⊨ ◊q This is to say that if a subjunctive conditional is possible true, and its antecedent is possibly true, then its consequent is also possibly true. This principle is validated by most accounts of subjunctive conditionals, including those that allow for non-trivial counterpossibles. If Molinism is true, then this principle is very likely false. According to Molinism (as I use the term here), God exists necessarily and essentially possesses the attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, moral perfection, etc. God possesses two types of knowledge logically prior...
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January 11, 2019

Finkish Backtracking Abilities

A disposition or ability is said to be 'finkish' iff, were the conditions for its exercise actual, the disposition/ability would be lost. (See Martin and Lewis.) For instance, imagine a sorcerer casts a spell on a fragile glass that will make it cease to be fragile if it is ever struck or dropped. (This example is due to Vihvelin. Realistic, non-magical examples are possible but more complex.) A fragile object is one that is disposed to break if struck, dropped, etc. The intuition is supposed to be that, given that the glass is intrinsically qualitatively identical to any other fragile...
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August 8, 2018

What is 'Acausal Thomism'?

In yesterday's post I discussed a view I called 'acausal Thomism'. I think I got the name from Tom Flint's article on divine providence in the Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology, but I don't have the book with me now and the Google and Amazon previews are being uncooperative. In any event, in the comments on yesterday's post, both Mike Almeida and Brandon Watson suggested that this view was in need of clarification. I employed it in yesterday's argument, and I also said that I lean toward endorsing the view. So here I'll try to clarify exactly what I mean...
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August 7, 2018

A Theological 'Slippery Slope' Argument for Compatibilism

When I first began studying philosophy, I was a convinced libertarian about free will. My reasons included supposed direct introspection together with what I now take to be two distinct but related intuitions, which I will now call the consequence argument intuition and the buck-stopping intuition. (I wouldn't have explained them like this back then, of course: I'm trying to do some autobiographical rational reconstruction.) The consequence argument intuition is the notion that if an event is necessitated—whether logically, metaphysically, or causally/nomologically—by factors outside my control, then that event is itself outside my control, and an event outside my control...
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May 19, 2015

Molinism and Circularity

Yesterday, I discussed Thomas Flint's response to the grounding objection in chapter 5 of Divine Providence: The Molinist Account. Today, I want to discuss his response to Robert Adams in chapter 7. Adams' objection turns on a notion of explanatory priority which, Flint complains, is not adequately defined. Flint argues that there is an equivocation in the argument, and that Adams relies on a transitivity assumption which is not plausible when applied across the different sorts of priority involved. I think, however, that Flint is mistaken on both counts: first, the notion in question is not equivocal. Rather, it is...
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May 18, 2015

Future Contingents and the Grounding Objection to Molinism

In chapter 5 of Divine Providence: The Molinist Account (1998), Thomas Flint defends a response to the grounding objection which he attributes to Alfred Freddoso. According to the Flint-Freddoso line, there are difficulties about future contingents which are exactly parallel to the difficulties about counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, and solutions to the problems about future contingents can be adapted to provide equally plausible solutions to the problems about counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. This claim is false. The exact formulation of the grounding objection is a little tricky. Some philosophers take it to be based on the (questionable) assumption of some...
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