Monday, May 26, 2014

New Paper Raises A Serious Challenge to Molinism...

...and, by implication, Plantinga's Free Will Defense:

Anders, Paul C., Joshua C. Thurow, and Kenneth Hochstetter. "On Counterfactuals of Libertarian Freedom: Is There Anything I Would Have Done if I Could Have Done Otherwise?", American Philosophical Quarterly 51:1 (Jan. 2014), pp. 85-94.

1 comment:

Angra Mainyu said...

Hi, EA,

That's an interesting paper, thanks.

It seems that the main characterization of LFW in the paper does not encompass the views of philosophers who do not accept the principle of alternate possibilities (PAP), like Craig (for example, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/middle-knowledge, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/freedom-and-the-ability-to-choose-evil http://triablogue.blogspot.com.ar/2009/06/william-lane-craig-on-freewill.html http://www.reasonablefaith.org/free-will )

However, on note 7, Anders, Thurow and Hochstetter do consider a case in which actions determined by a person's character count as libertarian-free, as long as the character was fixed by previous libertarian-free actions. Their assessment is that in that case, at least some previous action in which the PAP held happened. In this context, they hold that this is a case in which premise (2) obtains (I actually don't think the ability to do otherwise precludes causal determinism in general, but they're assuming it does, and so do libertarians, so I'm assuming it too for the sake of the argument).
That seems to be the case as long as the only exception to the PAP are libertarian-free actions determined by the agent's character, which in turn was libertarian-freely chosen by the agent, because then there is a first choice that fixed the character in question (barring infinite regress of choice, but there is no infinite regress in humans), and then that previous libertarian-free choice was not determined by a previously fixed character, so it wasn't determined at all.

So, I wonder if some libertarians might hold otherwise. The objection raised in the paper seems to be avoided by such a view.

Still, maybe if they hold that, their view becomes a compatibilist one, since it seems agent A's character could be causally fixed by something else than a libertarian-free choice she makes (say, event E, which may or may not be a choice by some other agent), and then A's character would determine her (allegedly libertarian-free) choices.

So, it seems to me that A's choices would be causally determined by E, even if they're free.
But what if the libertarian holds that determination of choices by a fixed character is not causal, and that E doesn't causally determine A's choices even if E causally determines A's character and A's character non-causally determines A's actions?
In that case, it seems plausible to me that the most promising objection would be to just challenge the libertarian's conceptual analysis, either of freedom or of causation - or both.

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