Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thomistic vs. Molinist Predestination Part II

In my last post I explained that God does not cause1 our free actions, but only cause2's them; hence, there can be no conflict between God's efficaciously willing that one do an action and our doing it libertarianly freely. I'd argue that one's free actions being caused is only inconsistent if we are using 'caused' in the sense of cause1. This is how I understand physical determinism:

(PD) The past state of the world, together with the laws of nature are sufficient to render necessary one unique future.

Clearly then God doesn't determine my next action A in this sense in cause2ing it, since God could have just as well created everything with the laws of nature and the past state up to my current time and yet cause2ed me to do ~A. It's only the case that I must do A under the supposition that God wills I do A, but it's not absolutely speaking necessary that I do A, since God could have willed otherwise.  In other words, libertarian freedom is possible, since even given the laws of nature + the past state of the world I could have done otherwise if God had so willed.

But maybe God's cause2ing me determines me in some morally relevant sense (where a form of determinism is morally relevant just in case if it were true it would preclude moral responsibility and freedom) since his causing is 'logically prior' to my acting. So we can generalize determinism from physical determinism to 'logical determinism' as follows:

(LD) An event E is logically determined by some state S just in case (a) necessarily the proposition expressing E (i.e. the proposition that E is the case) is true if the proposition p expressing S is true and (b) p is true.

Since necessarily if God wills that I do A then I do A, and God wills I do A, by this definition I'm logically determined to do A. So if this is a genuine morally relevant form of determinism, then God's cause2ing determines our actions and removes freedom. The problem with LD however is that it's not clear that it is a morally relevant form of determinism. After all, necessarily, if I do A then God wills I do A, and I in fact do A, but I don't determine God in any relevant sense to will that I do A. But if LD was a morally relevant form of determinism then I would.

I would simply hold to this: necessarily, God wills I do A if and only f I do A. This is true, but this is only meant to secure the efficacy and dependence of everything else for its existence on God's will.  This is similar to supervenience relations, and just like supervenience relations it only implies a necessary covariance; it does not necessarily imply any causal priority either of God's willing or my acting. To come back to the original point, we are working on different "causal plains" so to speak; I cause only in the sense of cause1, and God causes only in the sense of cause2. There is no causal priority of either of God's willing or my acting to the other.

Hence, I'm not sure this form of determinism, viz. logical "determinism", is a genuine form of determinism. I mean we can call it determinism (nomina significat ad placitum) but the question is whether it is a morally relevant kind, i.e. one which removes free will and moral responsibility. In the next and final post I'll come to the point about whether Aquinas's picture of predestination works.

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