Sunday, February 22, 2009

More on Choice and Determinism

Steve provided another post in our exchange on choice and determinism.

Steve: a) A Calvinist doesn’t define the meaning of the word “choice” in terms “You can choose X if it’s your strongest desire.”b) For that matter, a Calvinist doesn’t even have to define the concept of choice in terms of “You can choose X if it’s your strongest desire.”The basic idea of choosing is simply to make a decision.

I didn’t say Calvinists define choose as “You can choose X if it’s your strongest desire”, I said they avoid the common sense definitions and use exotic, philosophical counter-definitions; like the ones Paul provided. But Calvinists seem to have at least three options: 1) inconsistently hold to common sense definitions, 2) exotic, philosophical counter-definitions, or 3) use boiled down definitions that are missing some (or all) of the essential ingredients in the common sense definitions. If one removes enough essential elements of a definition, they end up with a tautology (choose = choose). Take for example the Wiktionary. Choose means decide and decide means choose. Hence choose means choose. Unhelpful. Paths two and three end up with the same problem; they deliver a deathblow to the clarity of scripture.

Steve, could you please A) define "choose" and B) explain it.

Me: “Steve correctly points out that the dictionary doesn’t engage in metaphysical analysis, but it does provide what would be the conclusion of such analysis by reporting common usage.”

Steve: It does nothing of the kind. In the nature of the case, “common usage” ordinarily is preanalytic. Most language users aren’t metaphysicians. They don’t use a word like “choice” with a lot of conscious, metaphysical baggage. Most folks aren’t conversant with modal metaphysics or Frankfurt examples.

Sure it does. The dictionary provides what common usage is; it doesn’t get into why it’s that way. It doesn’t matter if it’s the result of metaphysical analysis, it’s preanalytic or it comes out of a fortune cookie. If that’s common usage, the dictionary reports it. And rather than reporting exotic philosophical determinist definitions of choose, it reports a definition that leaves the determinist saying we never actually choose.

Me: based on the dictionary’s definition (selecting between possible alternatives), we can rightly say that man never actually chooses; because the alternatives are never actually possible.

Steve: i) Of course, this fails to draw an elementary distinction between the mental act of deliberation, and the extramental configuration of the world.The fact that in deliberating over a course of action, I may mentally review some hypothetical alternatives doesn’t begin go prove the extramental existence of alternate possibilities—much less their availability, even if they did exist.Rather, all this bears witness to is a psychological process. Our imagination.ii) And, at the risk of stating the obvious, I can imagine many “possibilities” which are impossible for me to realize.

Steve seems to be trying to switch actual possibility for hypothetical possibility, but it doesn’t work because you can’t talk about an actual and a hypothetical at the same time. Also, Steve seems to be granting that, given determinism, we don’t actually choose (understanding choose as defined by the dictionary).

Steve: we often make choices on the basis of what we thought were possible outcomes which, in hindsight, turn out to be beyond our reach. I may decide to become a med student. At the time I think I can afford med school. But due to an economic crisis after I enroll, I’m forced to drop out of med school before I graduate.I though that alternative was a live possibility. I was wrong.

The med students restrictions are post-choice, and don’t interfere with volition.

Steve: it’s counterintuitive to claim the future is indeterminate if the future is foreknown. The Calvinist, Thomist, and open theist all appreciate the force of that intuition. They relieve the tension by dropping one or another of the two propositions generating the tension. If intuition were Dan’s criterion, then he’d either be a determinist (e.g. Calvinist, Thomist) or an open theist.

On the contrary, I think it's intuitive to think something is wrong with the argument that foreknowledge rules out freewill, even if people can't quite put their finger on why. While some questioning on the subject of foreknowledge and freewill is natural, most Christians don’t drop either foreknowledge or freewill. So I think saying common sense says they are irreconcilable is a bit of a stretch. Only a small minority of Christians (Calvinists, Thomast and Open Theists) think that, and in my experience those that do tend to favor philosophy.

Steve: For the common man, knowing the future is synonymous with knowing what will happen.

Same here.

Steve: So, Dan, access the strawberry scenario, then access the alternate (chocolate) scenario. Repeat the same timeframe, but alternate the outcome.

As for Steve’s time-traveling counterfactual ice cream challenge, it seems to amount to nothing more than pointing out we don’t have empirical proof of freewill. As Christians, of course we believe in many things we don’t have empirical proof for. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Since the will is part of our immaterial soul, and we don’t have empirical evidence of the soul, why should we be surprised that we don’t have empirical evidence of the will?

But Steve did make one attempt to leverage lack of empirical proof of LFW into showing LFW is counterintuitive by saying: Well, it would be very counterintuitive to have an ability you’re unable to exercise. To say you can do something you can’t do. I cannot today choose otherwise for choices I made yesterday, even though I could have yesterday. If this is the whole of Steve’s point, it fails to show the counter-intuitiveness of LFW, since it’s a strawman regarding “when”. But perhaps there is a bit more to Steve’s claim here.

Today is February 22nd. I can’t live to see tomorrow. God willing, I will live to see February 23rd, but by that point the 24th will be “tomorrow”. The restriction is definitional, not causal. So even though I can live till tomorrow, I can’t live to it and have it be tomorrow. This is the type of restriction we have on being able to choose otherwise.

I can choose the chocolate and I can choose the strawberry. But if I choose the chocolate, the strawberry is “otherwise” and if I choose the strawberry, the chocolate is “otherwise”. So while I can choose otherwise, I can never choose otherwise and have it be otherwise. This is not impossibility, it’s incompossibility. So Steve’s statement that it’s something I can’t do (impossibility not incompossibility) is false.

Steve: There is more to his position than “ought implies can.”Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that this slogan is true. According to the formula, I’m not responsible unless I can do it. And let’s grant that contention, for the sake of argument.But there’s more to libertarian freedom then that. What’s the real principle?Not:i) I’m not responsible unless I can do it, But:ii) I’m not responsible unless I can either do it or refrain from doing it.

While it’s true there’s more to my position than ought implies can, that’s not immediately relevant because I am not currently defending my position. Steve asked why the switcheroo isn’t common sense and I am responding by pointing out that A) ought implies can is common sense and B) ought implies can rules out determinism (and indirectly the switcheroo).

Steve: But the plausibility of that slogan depends on the specific illustration. Take two examples:i) I’m not obligated to love my wife unless I can love my wife.ii) I’m not obligated to love my wife unless I can hate my wife.Now, even if you think that (i) is plausible, (ii) is not. Yet libertarian freedom doesn’t stop with (i). To be free in the libertarian sense, we must be free to do otherwise. iii) Moreover, the plausibility of (i) turns on the details. Suppose we elaborate (i) as follows:I’m not obligated to love my wife because I can’t love my wife. The reason I can’t love my wife is because I’ve fallen in love with a prostitute. As long as I’m smitten by this prostitute, I can’t feel the way I used to about my wife. And I can’t control my feelings. I just feel what I feel. Since I can’t feel the same way about my wife, I’m not obligated to love my wife.

This example is questionable, but even if it’s granted, I am not sure it matters because I don't think most folks first response to "ought implies can" is to think of this or similar examples. The scriptural obligation seems counter-intuitive; that we are to love them as Christ loved the church. The movie Fireproof shows how counter-intuitive it is.

Steve: Did he consult Greek and Hebrew lexicons?

All translators who had access to English dictionaries translated the words bâcha and eklegomai as choose.

Steve: Moreover, Calvinism doesn’t reject the existence of alternate possibilities. The real question is whether we index alternate possibilities to the will of God or the will of man.

Hm... I am not quite sure this is accurate. At least some of Calvinism's stronger theologians have called into question the coherence of LFW, which implies God does not have LFW. Turretin states God’s decrees do not differ from God Himself. (Institutes of Elenctic Theology. V1 p 193 para 10.) Edwards states God’s will is necessarily determined by the fitness of things. (Inquiry into the Will Part IV.VII)

But if a Calvinist holds God’s decrees were a choice (understood in and LFW sense), then God did truly have alternative possibilities. However, since the decree is done and immutable, it is fair to say all counterfactuals are no longer possible, given the decree. So Calvinism seems unable to maintain the existance of alternative possibilities.

Steve: If interpretation is determined, “not by what it says,” but by other Biblical truths as well as philosophical considerations, then, in principle, we could even grant, for the same of argument, that Biblical usage means exactly what the Arminian takes it to mean, but still interpret the passage Calvinistically in light of other Biblical truths as well as philosophical considerations.

Since interpretation is simply picking from the range of meanings left open by “what it says”, clearly the interpretation cannot contradict what it says.

Steve: Given the way in which Dan divorces the “what it says” level from the interpretive level, he leaves the interpretation of Scripture wide open.

Open to be interpreted via context (if what it says isn’t specific and is open to interpretation). Context gets bigger and bigger. We should start from the immediate context and move outward (a word, a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, a book, an author….) rather than starting on the fringes and moving inward.

Steve: Dan isn’t using the grammatico-historical method. That would involve Biblical word-studies. An analysis of biblical usage based on comparative Greek and Hebrew usage in Scripture, as well as secular Greek and Hebrew or cognate languages (e.g. Ugaritic).

Please see Paul Manata's quotes regarding the Jewish understanding of choice and freedom. Also, here’s evidence from and extra-biblical Jewish source:

Sirach 15:13-20 The Lord hateth all abomination; and they that fear God love it not. He himself made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his counsel; If thou wilt, to keep the commandments, and to perform acceptable faithfulness. He hath set fire and water before thee: stretch forth thy hand unto whether thou wilt. Before man is life and death; and whether him liketh shall be given him. For the wisdom of the Lord is great, and he is mighty in power, and beholdeth all things: And his eyes are upon them that fear him, and he knoweth every work of man. He hath commanded no man to do wickedly, neither hath he given any man licence to sin.

Also, please see my comment about lexicons above.

Steve: Scripture sometimes challenges the “common sense” assumptions of the ancient reader, e.g. Rom 9:19.

This is somewhat tangential because I agree sometimes scriptures challenges common sense. But since this passage is sometimes cited in support of determinism, I thought I would address it. I don’t find the objector’s argument common sense; I find it absurd to think we can challenge God’s authority.

The objection is why does God blame us since He set the rules and doesn’t have to listen to our input. The issue is God’s authority, not His power. To read “who resists His will” as predeterminism is incorrect. The term in Greek for “resisted” is anthistemi means talking back or opposing. Further, if we read “who resists His will” as predeterminism, the objection becomes self-contradictory. It would become Calminian. This is how it would look:

Why does He yet find fault – under Arminian assumptions of the incompatibility of prederminism and moral responsibility

For who has resisted His will –under Calvinist assumptions of the actuality of predeterminism.

These two propositions don’t fit together under one system. But this does:

Why does He yet find fault – Why blame us
For who has resisted His will – since we are stuck with your plan of salvation and can’t come up with our own

Steve: Let’s now apply Dan’s (allegedly) “intuitive,” “commonsensical,” “what it says” standard to a number of Bible verses:

Before I start, just a quick reminder that I am not opposed to all philosophy nor do I blindly accept common sense; I only opposed the practice of reading technical, philosophical definitions into scripture.

Steve: Genesis 6:6And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. - By Dan’s yardstick, God had second thoughts about what he made. If, with the benefit of hindsight, he could do it all over again, God would not have made mankind in the first place.

Given the wording, the question isn't if God repents or not. The passage makes it plain that He does. Rather the question is, is God’s repentance the same as man’s repentance. The passage doesn’t say it is, but other passages indicate that there are some similarities and some dissimilarities. While “if, with the benefit of hindsight, he could do it all over again, God would not have made mankind in the first place”, holds good of man’s repentance, I don’t think it does of God’s repentance. God did truly hate man’s sin; it was against His will, and His dealings with men did change course on account of their sins.

The repentance in this case seems to be that up until that time God wished His creation to exist and flourish, but based on their sinful state, He decided they should not exist but rather should be destroyed (Noah and family excepted). This does not entail that God would have redone things differently, only that from that moment on He willed things to be different.

Though God has an overall plan for all time, that does not mean He cannot will X from T1 to T3 and then nonX from T4 to T6. Rather, His will from T1 to T3 and T4 to T6 is included within His overall plan. So the overall plan does not change. Please note this is not an explination of Gen 6, rather it's reconcilation of Gen 6 with other truths.

The grief relates to man’s sins, not over His prior choice to create. The grief is not a physical emotion, since God is a Spirit, and does not have a body. Rather it tells us that God wills for us not to sin and hates our sins.

Steve: Genesis 22:12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." - By Dan’s yardstick, God was in the dark about Abraham’s future actions. God is on a learning curve. He learns through observation.

The passage does not deny God foreknew the event, but it does seem to indicate that the basis of God’s knowledge was the event. So likewise, the basis of His foreknowledge was the future event.

Steve: Exodus 32:10,14 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you."…14And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people. - By Dan’s yardstick, God changed his mind. Moses talked him out of his original plan.

Similar to Gen 6, before Moses’ intercession, God willed to destroy Israel. After, He willed to spare them.

Steve: Numbers 14:12,20 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they."… 20Then the LORD said, "I have pardoned, according to your word.By Dan’s yardstick, God once again changed his mind. - Once again, Moses talked him out of his original plan.

Same as Exodus 32.

Steve: Deuteronomy 8:22And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. - By Dan’s yardstick, this is another instance in which God is ignorant of the future.

See comments on Gen 22.

Steve: 1 Samuel 15:10-35 The word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11 "I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments."… 35 …And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel. By Dan’s yardstick, God had second thoughts about elevating Saul to the throne. If, with the benefit of hindsight, he could do it all over again, God would not have made him king.

See comments on Gen 6.

Steve: 2 Kings 20:1-7 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD, 'Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.'" 2Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying, 3"Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5"Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD, 6and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake." 7And Isaiah said, "Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover. - By Dan’s yardstick, this is another instance in which God changed his mind because someone talked him out of his original plan.

This one is different and admittedly more challenging. No conditions were given, but apparently there was an implicit condition. Implicit conditions (especially ones made explicit elsewhere- Jer 18 & Ez 18) are normal. By not stating the condition, we can see that Hezekiah’s motives were pure (i.e. he didn’t express remorse just to avoid death).

Also, sometimes we talk about the future, but we are really talking about causal relations. If I say to a smoker “that gas can will explode”, I might not be making a prediction so much as giving a warning. Perhaps God was only saying that the disease was deadly.

So the statement “you shall die” means the disease is such that it will kill you, with an implicit if you repent I may supra-naturally interrupt the disease’s normal cause and effect relationship and spare you.

Steve: 1 Chronicles 21:15 And God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, the LORD saw, and he relented from the calamity. - By Dan’s yardstick, God changed his mind at the last minute.

See comments on Gen 6.

Steve: 2 Chronicles 32:31And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart. - By Dan’s yardstick, this is another case of divine ignorance. God doesn’t know what people will do until they do it.

See comments on Gen 22.

Steve: Jeremiah 3:6-7 The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: "Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? 7And I thought, 'After she has done all this she will return to me,' but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. - By Dan’s yardstick, God was not merely ignorant of the outcome, but mistaken. God entertained a false expectation about the future. The outcome came as a surprise. Caught him offguard.

This statement seems stronger than divine repentance. Perhaps it could be taken as a command (i.e. I said “return unto me.” so the KJV and Vulgate). But if it is “thought” and “will return to me”, the we could look at this statement as a metaphor (part of the overall metaphor) representing God as a husband seeking to bring back his unfaithful wife.

Steve: Jeremiah 7:31And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. - By Dan’s yardstick, not only did God utterly fail to anticipate the actual outcome, but he even failed to anticipate the possible outcome. God is not only ignorant of the future, but he’s ignorant of future possibilities.

“Nor did it come into my mind” refers to God’s command, not their sinful act. God did not think of Himself commanding them to burn their sons, but He did know that they could and would.

Steve: Jonah 3:10 10When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. - By Dan’s yardstick, God had a change of heart.

It seems that Jonah and the Ninevehites understood there to be an implicit condition in the prophecy (Jonah 3:9, 4:2). As for the repentance, see comments on Gen 6.

Steve: Arminian Philosophical Theology

Again, I opposed reading philosophical definitions into scripture, not all philosophy.

25 comments:

arminianperspectives said...

Dan,

Nice job in general. I thought this statement by Hays reveals confusion:

we often make choices on the basis of what we thought were possible outcomes which, in hindsight, turn out to be beyond our reach. I may decide to become a med student. At the time I think I can afford med school. But due to an economic crisis after I enroll, I’m forced to drop out of med school before I graduate.I though that alternative was a live possibility. I was wrong.

I think most people would recognize that when we "choose" a future profession, the real "choice" is to pursue that profession and we recognize that things might happen to make that pursuit fail to reach fruition.

So I don't think it is accurate that we learn from "hindsight" that the choice was not really a choice. The choice to pursue the profession was very real and the pursuit of that profession bears that reality out. The outcome is not, however, guaranteed, and I think that most people recognize that when deciding to pursue a profession (without regard to "hindsight").

So the "choice" in reality, is the choice of a goal, and that choice is real whether or not the goal is ever reached (because one really does have several “goals” to choose from, despite any of those goals being realized, i.e. the “choice” is of the goal and pursuit of the goal, and not the realization of that goal).

In either case having a choice and making a choice are still demonstrably connected. If we believe we have a choice, when in fact we do not, then we cannot really make a choice either. We might think we have made a choice, but the reality of the situation is that we did not make a choice, since we never had a choice to make.

So the best Hays can do is offer examples of people deceiving themselves to believe that they have and make choices, when in fact they do not have nor make choices in those situations. So when you speak of choices in reality, Hays just talks about choices that amount to illusion, which has no real relevance to the discussion.

It is like saying that someone standing on a railroad track while a train is bearing down on him has a choice to avoid being hit by simply deceiving himself into believing that the train is not really bearing down on him. In fact, he has no such choice. If he remains on the track he will be hit, despite deceiving himself into believing otherwise.

So at best, Hays has offered examples of self-deception rather than examples of choice.

God Bless,
Ben

Arminian said...

Good job. Another successful refutation of Triablogue.

Hey, it was nice of Steve to supply a number of Scripture passages that are incompatible with Calvinism, but are quite compatible with Arminianism.

I love this title you gave to one of Steve's underwhelming arguments against free will:

"Steve’s time-traveling counterfactual ice cream challenge"

That sounds fun!

Robert said...

Hi Ben,

“In either case having a choice and making a choice are still demonstrably connected.”

The connection is in our minds in that we first believe that we have a choice between two alternative possibilities (both of which we believe we can actualize) and then we make a choice between these two alternative possibilities (by actualizing one and not actualizing the other possibility). But it must be remembered that you may believe that you have a choice (that you could actualize either possibility if you choose to do so) when in external reality you did not have that particular choice.

Say I am considering going to a movie: so when I get to a theatre and purchase my ticket, I believe that I could choose to go and see either Movie A or Movie B. I then make the choice of movie A, though unbeknownst to me, there is some sort of mechanical malfunction with the projector that was going to show Movie B, so seeing Movie B was not an available and actual alternative. Did I make a choice? Yes. Did I have a choice with respect to being able to see either of those two different movies in that context? No. Some of the philosophical literature contains examples like this, some that could really happen, some that are highly imaginative and quite unlikely or even impossible. The point is, though believing that we have a choice and then making a choice are connected in our minds, that belief may not correspond with reality if one of the alternative possibilities through mitigating circumstances is no longer a possibility (though we may have believed it to have been).

"If we believe we have a choice, when in fact we do not, then we cannot really make a choice either."

I disagree, that would be like saying that though you couldn’t have gone to see movie B, therefore you did not make a choice to see movie A. You **made** a choice to see movie A, you just did not **have** a choice to see both movie A or movie B (alternative possibility movie B was not accessible or available to you when you made your choice).

“We might think we have made a choice, but the reality of the situation is that we did not make a choice, since we never had a choice to make.”

Again, you may not have a choice with respect to some action, but that does not mean that you did not make a choice. What the necessitarian will argue is that you do make choices even if everything is necessitated: what they don’t openly share though is the “punch line” that IF EVERYTHING IS EXHAUSTIVELY DETERMINED THEN YOU NEVER EVER HAVE A CHOICE. That **is** the dirty and embarrassing secret the necessatarians try to cover up with their smoke and mirror linguistic evasions and tricks. Most people will not be too concerned if you say something like: if everything is exhaustively predetermined you still deliberate, you still make choices”. On the other hand, if the necessitarian were more forthright and said that: “in exhaustive determinism you never ever have a choice and so your belief that you have a choice is always wrong.” Now people will sit up and take notice and see how radical exhaustive determinism really is. It should also be noted that most people when they speak of having free will, they mean that they HAVE A CHOICE with regard to the making of some choice. So in most people’s minds they think of both having and then making a choice as being the essence of free will. The necessitarian will grant one part of it, that we make choices, but he cannot grant the full picture that we both HAVE AND MAKE CHOICES.

“So the best Hays can do is offer examples of people deceiving themselves to believe that they have and make choices, when in fact they do not have nor make choices in those situations. So when you speak of choices in reality, Hays just talks about choices that amount to illusion, which has no real relevance to the discussion.”

If Hays were forthright about what he really believes, he would openly admit that if his exhaustive determinism is true, then we never ever have a choice. And any belief that anyone ever has that they have a choice is always false, always mistaken. So if ED is true, then we are deluded in our belief that we have choices and our belief that we sometimes have choices is **always wrong**. I believe that the overwhelming and ubiquitous evidence from both scripture and our own experience suggests that in fact we sometimes have choices and so Hays belief that we never ever have choices is the illusory belief.

Robert

Godismyjudge said...

Thanks Ben. Very clear explination.

God be with you,
Dan

Arminian said...

Robert,

I disagree strongly with your argument for being able to make a choice when not having a choice. If we do not have a choice, then we obviously cannot make a choice IMO. What one merely believes does not matter; reality is what matters.

Let's analyze your example:

"Say I am considering going to a movie: so when I get to a theatre and purchase my ticket, I believe that I could choose to go and see either Movie A or Movie B. I then make the choice of movie A, though unbeknownst to me, there is some sort of mechanical malfunction with the projector that was going to show Movie B, so seeing Movie B was not an available and actual alternative. Did I make a choice? Yes. Did I have a choice with respect to being able to see either of those two different movies in that context? No."

***One huge problem with your example is that it does not fit Calvinism's exhaustive determinism (ED). You would have to adjust the example significantly, something like this: Add that every decision you make in the example is caused by someone who has given you a drug that renders you only willing to do whatever he tells you; call this person the controller. But you don't know it. The drug blinds you to his presence and makes you think the things you think are your own thoughts. So you go the theatre and buy your ticket. You believe that you could choose to go and see either Movie A or Movie B, because the controller has made you believe this. Then you decide to see movie A because the controller makes you decide on A, though unbeknownst to you, there is some sort of mechanical malfunction with the projector that was going to show Movie B, a malfunction also caused by the controller. So seeing Movie B was not an available and actual alternative. But neither was anything that you did. There was no alternative at all in anything, for someone else made every decision and caused you to do it. Did you make a choice? No; a choice is selecting from available alternatives. The Controller made all choices and caused you to carry out his choices. So you neither had a choice nor made a choice.

It is not necessary to take this further because the issue is whether the concept of choosing is compatible with ED, but I think your example fails even apart from considerations of ED, i.e., even if LFW be allowed to operate in the example. I believe you are being too vague with what choice one has and makes. In your example, you actually had a choice of A or B. You could have chosen B, but then you would have found out that you could not actually see the movie. But you still had a choice of selecting A or B. What you need to make your point is an example in which someone does not have a choice, but makes a choice. Perhaps the simplest way of naming your problem here is that you seem to be conflating making a choice and carrying out the intended outcome of the choice made (e.g., there is a difference between choosing to watch the movie and actually watching it, but you seem to be conflating these at times; when LFW is allowed, if one think he has a choice about watching a movie that he can't actually watch, he does indeed have a choice about the movie and can make a choice in favor of the movie, only then to find out that he can't carry out the itneded outcome of the choice).

Robert said...

Arminian wrote:

“I disagree strongly with your argument for being able to make a choice when not having a choice. If we do not have a choice, then we obviously cannot make a choice IMO. What one merely believes does not matter; reality is what matters.”

I also make a distinction between what could be called the ontological level of freedom (which is choices that you have and make in your mind, it could also be called freedom of thought, freedom in the soul, internal freedom, mental freedom) and the practical level of freedom (which is when you attempt to actualize a possibility in the external world, which could also be called freedom of action, freedom in the world, external freedom).

John Searle speaks of this when he talks about two “gaps”, gaps where the self operates in determining an action. The first “Gap” is between deliberation and arriving at a decision (in the mind, the person deliberates between two alternative possibilities, to keep it simple let’s limit it to, A and B). If you have free will at this level, then you can make the choice of either alternative possibility after you deliberate or consider the two possibilities. Searle speaks of this as being the first “gap” because whichever possibility you end up choosing (and this choice is made by the self) neither choice is necessitated by some causal chain that necessarily results in a particular outcome/choice.

The second gap that Searle speaks of is between arriving at a decision, and then carrying out this decision in the real and external world. Thus, we can make a decision in our minds, and then either carry out this decision as an intentional action in the real world or refrain from carrying out this decision in the real world. Again, Searle, correctly in my opinion, points out that the carrying out or not carrying out of the decision as an intentional action in the real world is not necessitated by some causal chain. This means contrary to some necessitarians who for example claim that beliefs or desires necessitate our actions, so that we do not have free will, our beliefs and desires do not necessitate our intentional actions. A clear example of this in scripture is James’ statement that if someone knows the right thing to do, but then does not do it, it is sin. This person knows what they should do, and if their action were necessitated by their belief, they would have to do the action. But in fact, and we have all experienced this at times, you can absolutely know the right thing to do, and yet nevertheless choose not to do it. Every bible teacher or pastor knows this principle: we can teach our people certain truths, certain beliefs that they ought to know and then act upon, and they can even have the belief or knowledge and yet they do not automatically act upon what they know.

I believe that what Searle calls the first gap applies to decisions, and decisions involve ontological freedom. What Searle calls the second gap applies to the carrying out of intentional actions in the real and external world, this refers to practical freedom. When you look at philosophical literature there will be examples of factors that will prevent intentional actions from being carried out (a famous example being “Frankfurt cases” where the intervener “Mr. Black” stands ready to prevent someone from carrying out a particular action so that they ensure that another action is carried out; this is at the level of practical freedom.

With my movie example, the decision is made freely by the person (and there is no interference with the decision, so the person had free will at the ontological freedom level). But now with respect to the moviegoer choosing to go to movie B instead, he would have ontological freedom (he would have the choice between movie A and movie B in his mind and he could decide to do either one). However if he could not carry out the decision of going to and seeing movie B because of the malfunctioning movie projector, then he did not have a choice with respect to carrying out the intentional action of going into the theater and seeing movie B (his freedom at the practical freedom level was not present, he did not have the choice to carry out the intentional action of seeing the movie in theater B.


“Let's analyze your example:

"Say I am considering going to a movie: so when I get to a theatre and purchase my ticket, I believe that I could choose to go and see either Movie A or Movie B. I then make the choice of movie A, though unbeknownst to me, there is some sort of mechanical malfunction with the projector that was going to show Movie B, so seeing Movie B was not an available and actual alternative. Did I make a choice? Yes. Did I have a choice with respect to being able to see either of those two different movies in that context? No."

***One huge problem with your example is that it does not fit Calvinism's exhaustive determinism (ED).”


It was not intended to be an example of calvinism’s belief in exhaustive determinism. My example was strictly intended to show that we can think of a situation where you believed that you had a choice with respect to something but you really did not have a choice. So you could make a choice without having a choice in such a situation. Now the necessatarian will, if they are consistent with their view of exhaustive determinism, claim that we never have a choice though we may make choices.

It should be observed that we would agree that ED ***precludes or eliminates*** us ever having choices, both with respect to carrying out intentional actions (practical freedom) AND ALSO with respect to having and making choices in our minds (ontological freedom). The fact is, if everything is predetermined then we have NEITHER ontological freedom nor practical freedom. In such a world we would have no freedom at all.

“You would have to adjust the example significantly,”

Yes if my **goal** was to illustrate **exhaustive determinism**, but that was not my goal, the goal was much more modest: to give an illustration where someone made a choice but did not have a choice. That possibility could occur in a world that was not exhaustively determined.

“something like this: Add that every decision you make in the example is caused by someone who has given you a drug that renders you only willing to do whatever he tells you; call this person the controller. But you don't know it. The drug blinds you to his presence and makes you think the things you think are your own thoughts. So you go the theatre and buy your ticket. You believe that you could choose to go and see either Movie A or Movie B, because the controller has made you believe this. Then you decide to see movie A because the controller makes you decide on A, though unbeknownst to you, there is some sort of mechanical malfunction with the projector that was going to show Movie B, a malfunction also caused by the controller. So seeing Movie B was not an available and actual alternative. But neither was anything that you did.”


This is a very good illustration of what theological ED/necessitarian theology would look like (the “controller” here is God if everything had been exhaustively predetermined). Note people under these circumstances would have neither ontological or practical freedom.

I have shared my own illustration of what ED would look like or amount to in human experience. My illustration of ED is similar to this and I call it “Joe’s bad chess move”:

Imagine a guy named “Joe” who unknown to him is playing chess with Mr. Black a neurosurgeon who has placed a device inside Joe so that Black controls everything about Joe, his bodily movements, his thoughts his desires, everything. They engage in a chess game with Joe believing that every time he makes a move he is choosing freely. I mean he is not coerced against his will to make any move. In each and every case his every chess move is a move he wants to make, so he is convinced he is acting with free will and both having and making choices. Though in reality if Mr. Black controls every move and dictates every move, then he is not acting freely at all. At a certain point in the game Black has Joe do a bad chess move which immediately results in him losing his queen and the game soon after. If we as onlookers were watching this and we knew what was actually going on (though Joe did not), then who would really be responsible for Joe’s bad chess move? We would say Mr. Black. That is my standard illustration of how things would be for us if exhaustive determinism was true and God directly controlled everything about us. In such a scenario we might think that we had free will, that our actions were not coerced against our will, and yet the reality is that our will is completely controlled and dictated by another person external to ourselves. There would never be any available alternatives, we would only and always do only what we had been determined to do. The “controller” would make every choice for us, even though we thought we had free will and thought that we were freely choosing and thought we were free because our actions were not coerced against our will (because another person controls our will so they would not need to be coerced by the external person). It should be noted that Joe would go through the process of deliberating about each of his moves and he would select a move from options he considered in his mind, so he would engage in the process of making choices, but while he would be making choices, he would never have choices. For Joe then, he would not even have ontological freedom to have and make decisions in his mind. In such a world if he believed that he had libertarian free will, believed that he could choose otherwise, believed that he had some choices at times, in each case his belief would be wrong he would be wrong, and he would be in a world of illusion where things are not at all what they may seem.


“Did you make a choice? No; a choice is selecting from available alternatives. The Controller made all choices and caused you to carry out his choices. So you neither had a choice nor made a choice.”


This is false. While you would not **have** choices in such a situation because you could not choose to do otherwise (same with Joe): you could make choices. Like Joe you could deliberate between options and mistakenly believe they were all available to you (thus believing that you had a choice) when in reality all of the alternatives were not available to you (and in fact the only “possibility” was the one you had to do because you were predetermined to do it, I am even reluctant to call it merely a “possibility” when in fact it is completely necessitated). But you would be **making** choices when you chose one alternative possibility rather than another (same with Joe when he makes each chess move).


“It is not necessary to take this further because the issue is whether the concept of choosing is compatible with ED, but I think your example fails even apart from considerations of ED, i.e., even if LFW be allowed to operate in the example. I believe you are being too vague with what choice one has and makes.”


Perhaps I was too vague initially, but if you add what I have said about the distinction between ontological freedom and practical freedom and Searle’s two gaps. Then in my movie example you might have ontological freedom and thus have and make decisions in your mind. But if you did not have access to going to and seeing either movie A or movie B, then you would not have practical freedom. And in such a situation if you chose to go to movie A (you **made** a choice, you selected from what you believed to be alternative possibilities)but you did not **have** a choice with respect to carrying out the choice to go to Movie B (so since you did not have access to movie B, but only access to Movie A, you did not have a choice with respect to the carrying out of the action). Put simply: a situation can arise in which you retain your ontological freedom, but not your practical freedom with respect to a particular action.

The famous example of Locke comes to mind here: imagine a man in a room who must exit a specific door to leave the room (and say unbeknownst to him that someone had locked the door from the outside of the room). With respect to leaving the room through that door, the man has ontological freedom (he could both choose to remain in the room or choose to leave the room, that choice is not precluded by the locked door, in his mind he has that choice and makes a choice of whether or not to remain in the room) but he does not have practical freedom (he is not free to leave the room since the door is locked: he cannot choose the intentional action of leaving the room).

It should be observed that many people fail to make this distinction between ontological and practical freedom so they then end up imagining possibilities that a person cannot actualize (like leaving the room when the door is locked from the outside). They then mistakenly conclude that since a particular possibility is taken away or impossible, therefore the person does not have free will. But this is to mistake the elimination of certain possibilities as alternative possibilities, for the elimination of free will. You can take away certain options from me in a situation, but that does not amount to eliminating my free will entirely. For example, say the man tries to open the locked door (he has lost the alternative possibility of leaving the room) does that mean that he no longer has ontological freedom? No, in fact one of his next choices could be: thinking about what his response would be to the door being locked (choosing to try to break the door down, choosing to find another opening [e.g. a secret door in the wall], choosing a weak point in the walls or the ceiling to try to break through, choosing to use his cell phone to call for help, etc.)

Necessatarians often come up with or invent examples of someone’s choices being taken away or limited (Hays example of the guy who at first chooses to go to med school, he first experiences ontological freedom, but then no longer has the funds, the option of going to med school is now taken away, his practical freedom has changed) and then conclude from these examples that the person no longer has free will. Well that is a big stretch and a big mistake because just because we lose one option, just because one particular alternative possibility is no longer open to us, it does not follow that NONE OF THEM ARE AVAILABLE OR ACCESSIBLE TO US or that we no longer have ontological freedom or practical freedom with respect to other actions.

“In your example, you actually had a choice of A or B.”


Right, in terms of ontological freedom in your mind.


“You could have chosen B, but then you would have found out that you could not actually see the movie.”

So you would have ontological freedom but not practical freedom. You would have free will in the first gap, but not in the second gap.

“But you still had a choice of selecting A or B.”

Again, ontological freedom, in your mind.

“What you need to make your point is an example in which someone does not have a choice, but makes a choice.”

And that would be Joe’s bad chess move, correct? Or the man in Locke’s locked room?


“Perhaps the simplest way of naming your problem here is that you seem to be conflating making a choice and carrying out the intended outcome of the choice made (e.g., there is a difference between choosing to watch the movie and actually watching it, but you seem to be conflating these at times; when LFW is allowed, if one thinks he has a choice about watching a movie that he can't actually watch, he does indeed have a choice about the movie and can make a choice in favor of the movie, only then to find out that he can't carry out the intended outcome of the choice)."


These words here sound just like a description of the ontological freedom versus practical freedom distinction that I have suggested here (just without using my terms, but making the same distinction!!!).

Would you agree that you are making this same distinction in your words here Arminian?


Robert

PS. here is a great example of inner freedom from the magician and illusionist David Blaine:

"This morning I awoke in a sweat, soaking wet from a dream I was having. In this dream I was confined in a small case dangling above the water below me. I felt like a caged animal at the Zoo. I am against Zoos. In this space I had nothing. The air was thick and the world was spinning around me faster and faster. I had to learn to exist as I was. I simply had to accept, and then I could endure. Then I realized that nothing true could ever be taken away from me because it, all existed in my mind. I can dream with my eyes open."

I work with inmates and though many of their alternative possibilities have been taken away (their practical freedom has been limited in significant ways), but they still have ontological freedom, they still can make different choices so they can have different outcomes. One of those decisions that is still available to them, is to trust in Christ for salvation. And being in the most secure lock up, being in solitary, does not eliminate that possibility.

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Robert,

Determinists can say they "make a choice", only by using speciallized definitions and avoiding common sense ones. If choices involves possible alternatives, then they neither have or make them, since determinism rules out possible alternatives.

Does your understanding of "make a choice" include possible alternatives?

God be with you,
Dan

Robert said...

Hello Dan,

“Determinists can say they "make a choice", only by using specialized definitions and avoiding common sense ones.”

Determinists may make a distinction between having choices and making choices, they will then argue that while they do not have choices they do make choices.

It is critical to see that if Exhaustive determinism is true, then we never ever **have** choices. Dan on this I believe we agree so I will not argue for this point here, just assume it to be true.

“If choices involves possible alternatives, then they neither have or make them, since determinism rules out possible alternatives.”

Here you are suggesting that we cannot make a distinction between having and making choices “if choices involves possible alternatives”, because according to you, if we have and make choices then possible alternatives are **involved.** So now the issue becomes when we make a choice are possible alternatives **involved** and if so, in what way are they **involved.**? Or put it another way, could we be **involved** with alternative possibilities though we do not have access to them?

“Does your understanding of "make a choice" include possible alternatives?”

It depends on what you mean by “include” possible alternatives.

I will attempt to explain my view without philosophical or technical jargon, though I will make certain distinctions and will use certain terms which I will define and believe are not controversial.

When we have a choice, that means that we have ACCESS to more than one alternative possibility (if we have access to only one AP, then we do not **have** a choice). At Baskin Robbins 31 flavors ice cream parlor they claim at any one time to have 31 different flavors from which to choose (in order to have a choice there we would need to have access to at least two different flavors, if for some reason only one flavor was available then our only choice would be between having that flavor or not having that flavor so we would have only two AP's, if all thirty one flavors were available then we would have 32 AP’s/including not choosing any of them). When we think about a choice that we are considering making, in our minds we consider the various AP’s (this is usually called deliberation). When we deliberate we need to be aware of the AP’s which we are considering (at the ice cream store I may be aware of say 10 flavors, so my AP’s I consider in my deliberation would be those 10 flavors, not flavors that I am not familiar with or unaware of. Are we “including” AP’s if we are considering them in our deliberations?

Now what are AP’s? Alternative possibilities are the different options the different possibilities that we believe that we could choose when we make our choice. If we did not believe that we could choose a particular option, we would not consider it to be an AP for us. Now it is important to distinguish **believing that we could pick a particular AP**, and **actually having access to that particular AP**. At the ice cream store, say that I know about, are aware of 10 flavors (flavors such as chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, rocky road, etc), in my deliberations. Now if I am aware of these 10 flavors is that the same as having ACCESS to all 10 of these flavors?

Now what happens when I make a choice? I consider the different AP’s that I believe are available or accessible to me (i.e., I deliberate about them in my mind). So I think about the 10 flavors that I believe that I could choose from. And then I select one AP from the others that I have been considering and am aware of. When I select one, while not selecting the others I am making a choice. Do I have to have access to all 10 to make a choice? No, in fact, due to circumstances I could be considering the 10 flavors believing that I could choose any of the 10 when in reality say they were out of 5 of these flavors. In reality I would have access to only 5 flavors so I would have a choice. If the number of accessible flavors went down to 4 I would still have a choice. The number could even go down to two flavors and I would still have a choice if I had access to both flavors, both AP’s. The heart of having a choice then, is to have ACCESS to at least two different AP’s. But what if due to unforeseeable or unknown circumstances, I have access to only the AP that I actually end up choosing? Is that making a choice? I am accessing and selecting the AP that I have chosen am I not?

But now this is the issue, must you have a choice, must you have access to at least two AP’s in order to make a choice? It depends upon whether or not you believe that you must actually have access to multiple AP’s in order to make a choice. We agree, I think that we must have access to multiple AP’s to HAVE A CHOICE. But that is not what we are focusing on here, we are focusing on whether or not we must have access to multiple AP’s in order to make a choice.

Now recall that I said in our deliberations we must be aware of different AP’s in order to make a choice. When we deliberate we also believe that we can access the different AP’s, when we make a choice. Put another way, we usually assume that we have a choice, when we make a choice. But must this assumption be true in order for us to make a selection from among AP’s in our minds? Could you be mistaken about this belief and yet still be making a choice, still be selecting from among AP’s you are considering in your mind? Must that belief that you have a choice (i.e., that you have access to all of the AP’s you are considering) be true in order for you to make a choice of one AP rather than the others that you are considering? Could you make a selection, make a choice, even when you are mistaken about how accessible these AP’s are to you?

Imagine that Exhaustive determinism were true, that would mean that you never ever have a choice (you never have access to more than one AP, you never could actualize different AP’s that you are considering when deliberating). In an ED world could you go through the process of making a decision (i.e., considering different AP’s in your mind, **believing** that you had access to them/believing that you had a choice, and then selecting one of the AP’s)? I suggest that you could go through the process of making a decision, making a choice, though you would not have a choice and you would be mistaken in your belief that you had a choice: you would make choices but never have choices (you would believe that you had access to multiple AP’s when choosing, though in reality you never would have access to these different AP’s).

Now imagine a world that was not exhaustively determined, where at least sometimes we have choices: could circumstances come up in that world, where you went through the process of making a decision, making a choice, though you would not have a particular choice and you would be mistaken in your belief that you had that particular choice: in that particular case you would make a choice but not have a choice due to mitigating circumstances (you would believe that you had access to multiple AP’s when choosing, though in that particular situation in reality you did not have access to these different AP’s with respect to a particular choice that you were making.

So could you find yourself in a particular situation where you believed that you had a choice (but were mistaken about having access to different AP’s, mistaken about having a choice) though you went ahead and made a choice from the AP’s that you were considering in your mind and believed you had access to more than two AP’s (though in reality you were mistaken)? Could you go through the process of deliberation and then making a choice even though you were mistaken about the actual access that you had to each of the various AP’s? If you could have that experience then you could experience making a choice without having a choice.

Say that you go to the 31 flavor ice cream store late in the evening (here they are open till 10:00 pm.), believing not that you had access to all 31 flavors, but that you have access to say 10 flavors. But they had a big day, a special sale at the store, and of the 10 flavors/AP’s that you considered in your mind before making your decision, only one of these ten flavors is left to choose from. You deliberate about whether you want strawberry or chocolate this time, you choose strawberry and so ask the employee (without looking at all of the different containers and seeing 9 of the 10 that you considered to be empty, except for one/strawberry, and you happen to choose that flavor, strawberry, believing that you had access to 10 flavors, when in reality you only had access to only 1 flavor (strawberry) of the 10 that you deliberated about, because that is all that they had left. Did you **have** a choice as ordinarily understood in regards to the 10 flavors (between different flavors that were accessible to you? No. Did you make a choice as ordinarily understood, meaning you chose, you selected from among 10 different AP’s that you thought about in your mind and believed that you had access to? Yes (and note the 10 AP’s were “included” in your making the choice, because you considered them, believing them to be accessible, believing them to be live options, in your deliberation that preceded your choice). This possibility that we make a choice without having a choice occurs when for some reason we are mistaken about the accessibility of the different AP’s. If we have the amount (or level or degree of, not sure what the best word here is) of access that we believe we have then we both have and make a choice. If we don’t have the amount of access that we believe we have, then we could believe that we have and then make a choice, when in reality we only are making a choice (and even in that situation we are considering the AP’s, so they are “included” when we are considering them, though we do not have access to them, we cannot do them, we cannot actualize them, when we make our choice.

Dan I believe that when you speak of “including” the AP’s when making a choice you are assuming they are all accessible when the choice is made. But if you are assuming **that,** then you beg the question because you assume (that we have a choice since all of the AP’s are accessible) the very thing we are disagreeing about/that we have a choice whenever we make a choice. But that is just it, the issue which you assume and which I am challenging is the assumption that we have access to all of the AP’s/have a choice, whenever we make a choice. I am suggesting that we may believe that we have a choice, believe that we have access to all of the AP’s when we make a choice (and often this assumption is in fact true, often when we make a choice we do have a choice), but this belief, this assumption is not always true and it can be false at times, if in a particular situation it does not correspond with reality [which is that we do not have access to all of the AP’s with regard to that choice] and yet we go through the process of, and in fact end up making a choice (though since we do not actually have access to all of the AP’s, other than the one we end up selecting, we do not have the choice that we thought that we had). We are nevertheless making a choice, selecting an AP from among others that we believed that we had access to. Does this mistake in our thinking happen often? Probably not. Can it happen sometimes? I say Yes.

Robert

Arminian said...

Robert said: "I also make a distinction between what could be called the ontological level of freedom (which is choices that you have and make in your mind, it could also be called freedom of thought, freedom in the soul, internal freedom, mental freedom) and the practical level of freedom (which is when you attempt to actualize a possibility in the external world, which could also be called freedom of action, freedom in the world, external freedom). John Searle speaks of this when he talks about two “gaps”, gaps where the self operates in determining an action. The first “Gap” is between deliberation and arriving at a decision (in the mind, the person deliberates between two alternative possibilities, to keep it simple let’s limit it to, A and B). If you have free will at this level, then you can make the choice of either alternative possibility after you deliberate or consider the two possibilities."

****Already this path of argumentation fails to match the situation suggested by exhaustive determinism (ED). In ED, you cannot choose between A and B because choosing means selecting fromn aailable alternatives. If someone else is irresistibly determining your "choice" of one, then only one course is open to you and you are therefore bot choosing. You neither have a choice, nor choose.

Robert said: "Searle speaks of this as being the first “gap” because whichever possibility you end up choosing (and this choice is made by the self) neither choice is necessitated by some causal chain that necessarily results in a particular outcome/choice.

****But in ED, it is necessitated. Therefore there is neither having a choice nor choosing.

Robert said: "The second gap that Searle speaks of is between arriving at a decision, and then carrying out this decision in the real and external world. Thus, we can make a decision in our minds, and then either carry out this decision as an intentional action in the real world or refrain from carrying out this decision in the real world."

****Not in ED. One cannot choose whether to carry it our *or* not, but one must and can only so what one has been predetermined to do. No choice, no choosing; only doing. Maybe we should create a cartoon of Yoda saying, "No choice, no choose; only do". Hmmm, I am pretty sure Yoda is not a determinist. I guess we could have the Emporer say it; just seems like it would lose some effect.

Robert said: "Again, Searle, correctly in my opinion, points out that the carrying out or not carrying out of the decision as an intentional action in the real world is not necessitated by some causal chain. This means contrary to some necessitarians who for example claim that beliefs or desires necessitate our actions, so that we do not have free will, our beliefs and desires do not necessitate our intentional actions. A clear example of this in scripture is James’ statement that if someone knows the right thing to do, but then does not do it, it is sin. This person knows what they should do, and if their action were necessitated by their belief, they would have to do the action. But in fact, and we have all experienced this at times, you can absolutely know the right thing to do, and yet nevertheless choose not to do it. Every bible teacher or pastor knows this principle: we can teach our people certain truths, certain beliefs that they ought to know and then act upon, and they can even have the belief or knowledge and yet they do not automatically act upon what they know.

****Again, this is all irrelevant to ED. The whole scheme you describe relies on libertarian free will (LFW) to work. I think you clarify later that you were not trying to address ED. *But that is the argument with Triablogue and that is occurring at this blog!* If you want to debate whether peole with LFW can not have choices yet make choices, I will probably bow out as long as it is clear that LFW is necessary for such a scheme, even though I think you are wrong about it, because the issue is Calvinistic ED.

Robert said: "I believe that what Searle calls the first gap applies to decisions, and decisions involve ontological freedom. What Searle calls the second gap applies to the carrying out of intentional actions in the real and external world, this refers to practical freedom. When you look at philosophical literature there will be examples of factors that will prevent intentional actions from being carried out (a famous example being “Frankfurt cases” where the intervener “Mr. Black” stands ready to prevent someone from carrying out a particular action so that they ensure that another action is carried out; this is at the level of practical freedom.

With my movie example, the decision is made freely by the person (and there is no interference with the decision, so the person had free will at the ontological freedom level). But now with respect to the moviegoer choosing to go to movie B instead, he would have ontological freedom (he would have the choice between movie A and movie B in his mind and he could decide to do either one). However if he could not carry out the decision of going to and seeing movie B because of the malfunctioning movie projector, then he did not have a choice with respect to carrying out the intentional action of going into the theater and seeing movie B (his freedom at the practical freedom level was not present, he did not have the choice to carry out the intentional action of seeing the movie in theater B.

****Let me remind you that that your example assumes LFW, and so I would say he did have a choice with respect to carrying out the intentional action. He could choose to carry it out but not successfully carry it out. I guess one could say that he did not have a choice of successfully carrying it out, but that is not what the choice was about for either option. One does not specifically choose to carry out the action successfully. There is no choice about the success of it for either option. I.e., since ones' will is already committed, the success of the action is not in one's control, but determined by other factors. So the success of the action is not particularly the object of the choice. It is only an object of choice when the person considers the success to be optional. But when the person thinks the outcome is in question due to factors beyond his certain control, then the object of the choice would normally not be the success of the action, but choosing to attempt the action. Basically, you seem to be going to great lengths to try and find an example of not having a choice yet choosing. But you need to assume LFW, postulate very unusual examples, and draw very specific, technical distinctions. So your example does not really match the real world.

Robert said: "It was not intended to be an example of calvinism’s belief in exhaustive determinism. My example was strictly intended to show that we can think of a situation where you believed that you had a choice with respect to something but you really did not have a choice. So you could make a choice without having a choice in such a situation. Now the necessatarian will, if they are consistent with their view of exhaustive determinism, claim that we never have a choice though we may make choices."

****But ED is the issue being debated with respect to having and making choices. So your esample is comletely unfit for the discussion and addressing the claim that C ED is inconsistent with the very notion of choice and choosing. And then now you take this example that does not fit the situation under consideration and claim that ED is consistent with making choices (though not having choices; but I repeat, if someone does not have a choice, then neither can he make one; supporting argumentation below.)

Robert said: "It should be observed that we would agree that ED ***precludes or eliminates*** us ever having choices, both with respect to carrying out intentional actions (practical freedom) AND ALSO with respect to having and making choices in our minds (ontological freedom). The fact is, if everything is predetermined then we have NEITHER ontological freedom nor practical freedom. In such a world we would have no freedom at all.

****Ok.

Robert said: "Yes if my **goal** was to illustrate **exhaustive determinism**, but that was not my goal, the goal was much more modest: to give an illustration where someone made a choice but did not have a choice. That possibility could occur in a world that was not exhaustively determined."

****But critically, it could not occur in a that was is exhaustively determined. And that is the point Ben and Dan are making. So you would really need to give an illustration of someone who made a choice but did not have a choice *in an ED world!* This is one definitive reason why your example does not at all show that someone can make choices while not having choices, for your example assumes LFW, and the argument Ben makes and Dan makes is that someone cannot make a choice if he does not have a choice in an ED world.

Robert said: "This is a very good illustration of what theological ED/necessitarian theology would look like (the “controller” here is God if everything had been exhaustively predetermined). Note people under these circumstances would have neither ontological or practical freedom.

I have shared my own illustration of what ED would look like or amount to in human experience. My illustration of ED is similar to this and I call it “Joe’s bad chess move”:

Imagine a guy named “Joe” who unknown to him is playing chess with Mr. Black a neurosurgeon who has placed a device inside Joe so that Black controls everything about Joe, his bodily movements, his thoughts his desires, everything. They engage in a chess game with Joe believing that every time he makes a move he is choosing freely. I mean he is not coerced against his will to make any move. In each and every case his every chess move is a move he wants to make, so he is convinced he is acting with free will and both having and making choices. Though in reality if Mr. Black controls every move and dictates every move, then he is not acting freely at all. At a certain point in the game Black has Joe do a bad chess move which immediately results in him losing his queen and the game soon after. If we as onlookers were watching this and we knew what was actually going on (though Joe did not), then who would really be responsible for Joe’s bad chess move? We would say Mr. Black. That is my standard illustration of how things would be for us if exhaustive determinism was true and God directly controlled everything about us. In such a scenario we might think that we had free will, that our actions were not coerced against our will, and yet the reality is that our will is completely controlled and dictated by another person external to ourselves. There would never be any available alternatives, we would only and always do only what we had been determined to do. The “controller” would make every choice for us, even though we thought we had free will and thought that we were freely choosing and thought we were free because our actions were not coerced against our will (because another person controls our will so they would not need to be coerced by the external person). It should be noted that Joe would go through the process of deliberating about each of his moves and he would select a move from options he considered in his mind, so he would engage in the process of making choices, but while he would be making choices, he would never have choices. For Joe then, he would not even have ontological freedom to have and make decisions in his mind. In such a world if he believed that he had libertarian free will, believed that he could choose otherwise, believed that he had some choices at times, in each case his belief would be wrong he would be wrong, and he would be in a world of illusion where things are not at all what they may seem.

****Now you seem to contradict yourself. At one point you say that Joe "would engage in the process of making choices, but while he would be making choices, he would never have choices." Yet at another point you say that Joe "would not even have ontological freedom to have and make decisions in his mind." If he does not have freedom to make decisions, then he does not have freedom to choose. And if he does not have freedom to choose, then obviously he can't choose. But perhaps the greatest death knell to your position is that you admit that "There would never be any available alternatives, we would only and always do only what we had been determined to do."
For choosing by definition means selecting between possible alternatives. If one is exhaustively controlled by another, then there are no alternatives, no options, only one course that can be enacted. Therefore, one does not have a choice nor does one meake a choice. Thinking one has a choice or makes a choice does not change the reality. The best the ED advocate and you could reasonably affirm is that people in such a world think they have choices and think they choose, but this is an illusion. One thinks he makes choices, but in fact, he does not genuinely select among possible alternatives. Therefore he does not genuinely choose. Choice and choosing is only an illusion. And this flatly contradicts the Bible, which makes it clear that people have choices and make choices. So you are actually on to something when you talk about how living in an ED world would be to live in a world of illusion with respect to having choices. You simply need to add that choosing would also be an illusion.

I said: “Did you make a choice? No; a choice is selecting from available alternatives. The Controller made all choices and caused you to carry out his choices. So you neither had a choice nor made a choice.”


Robert responded: "This is false. While you would not **have** choices in such a situation because you could not choose to do otherwise (same with Joe): you could make choices. Like Joe you could deliberate between options and mistakenly believe they were all available to you (thus believing that you had a choice) when in reality all of the alternatives were not available to you (and in fact the only “possibility” was the one you had to do because you were predetermined to do it, I am even reluctant to call it merely a “possibility” when in fact it is completely necessitated). But you would be **making** choices when you chose one alternative possibility rather than another (same with Joe when he makes each chess move)."

****Your scheme is incompatible with the very defintiion of choose. In fact, you contradict your own position by saying the person chose one alternative possibility. But by definition it is not an alternative if it is the only possiblity. That the person thinks he has other possibilities only shows that in ED people only have the illusion of choosing. Believing something does not make it true. Believing one is selecting from possible alternatives does not mean one is choosing from alternatives, particularly as what one thinks his choice is is irrestibly caused by another.

Perhaps I was too vague initially, but if you add what I have said about the distinction between ontological freedom and practical freedom and Searle’s two gaps. Then in my movie example you might have ontological freedom and thus have and make decisions in your mind. But if you did not have access to going to and seeing either movie A or movie B, then you would not have practical freedom. And in such a situation if you chose to go to movie A (you **made** a choice, you selected from what you believed to be alternative possibilities)but you did not **have** a choice with respect to carrying out the choice to go to Movie B (so since you did not have access to movie B, but only access to Movie A, you did not have a choice with respect to the carrying out of the action). Put simply: a situation can arise in which you retain your ontological freedom, but not your practical freedom with respect to a particular action.

****I don't think the distinction between ontological and practical freedom is valid in the way you are using it. As explained above, I am not sure that choosing success is really a valid object of choice, at least not normally, and not in such a way that one would not have a choice about it and choose it a tthe same time. But this is really beside the point, since an ED world is required for any example in this discussion. The claim is that ED is logically inconsistent with choosing.

Robert said: The famous example of Locke comes to mind here: imagine a man in a room who must exit a specific door to leave the room (and say unbeknownst to him that someone had locked the door from the outside of the room). With respect to leaving the room through that door, the man has ontological freedom (he could both choose to remain in the room or choose to leave the room, that choice is not precluded by the locked door, in his mind he has that choice and makes a choice of whether or not to remain in the room) but he does not have practical freedom (he is not free to leave the room since the door is locked: he cannot choose the intentional action of leaving the room).

****This illustration fails as well. Here I believe you (Locke) begs the question of choosing, at least if an ED world is assumed. In defiance of the definition of the word "choose", which entails selecting from various available options, you say the person chooses. But this simply builds the word "choose" into the illustration, thus assuming what you are attempting to prove. In an ED world, the person deciding to stay in the room is irresistibly caused by God to do so. There is never anypossibility that he might try to leave the room. He will never try that because he can't even try that. He cannot "choose" that, but must do the one thing that has been determined for him to do. So he does not choose to continue reading; he decides to continue reading. And this is because choosing by definition involves selecting from available options. This is another example that assumes LFW and so is not fit for showing that one can make a choice yet not have a choice in an ED world.

It should be observed that many people fail to make this distinction between ontological and practical freedom so they then end up imagining possibilities that a person cannot actualize (like leaving the room when the door is locked from the outside). They then mistakenly conclude that since a particular possibility is taken away or impossible, therefore the person does not have free will. But this is to mistake the elimination of certain possibilities as alternative possibilities, for the elimination of free will. You can take away certain options from me in a situation, but that does not amount to eliminating my free will entirely. For example, say the man tries to open the locked door (he has lost the alternative possibility of leaving the room) does that mean that he no longer has ontological freedom? No, in fact one of his next choices could be: thinking about what his response would be to the door being locked (choosing to try to break the door down, choosing to find another opening [e.g. a secret door in the wall], choosing a weak point in the walls or the ceiling to try to break through, choosing to use his cell phone to call for help, etc.)

****We can speak of taking away someone's free will with respect to a specific thing.

Necessatarians often come up with or invent examples of someone’s choices being taken away or limited (Hays example of the guy who at first chooses to go to med school, he first experiences ontological freedom, but then no longer has the funds, the option of going to med school is now taken away, his practical freedom has changed) and then conclude from these examples that the person no longer has free will. Well that is a big stretch and a big mistake because just because we lose one option, just because one particular alternative possibility is no longer open to us, it does not follow that NONE OF THEM ARE AVAILABLE OR ACCESSIBLE TO US or that we no longer have ontological freedom or practical freedom with respect to other actions.

Robert said: "Right, in terms of ontological freedom in your mind.

So you would have ontological freedom but not practical freedom. You would have free will in the first gap, but not in the second gap.

Again, ontological freedom, in your mind."

****Again, I don't think the distinction between ontological and practical freedom is valid in the way you are using it. See above.

I said: “What you need to make your point is an example in which someone does not have a choice, but makes a choice.”

Robert responded: "And that would be Joe’s bad chess move, correct? Or the man in Locke’s locked room?"

***Absolutely not(!), as explained above. I could hardly disagree with you more on that. I find it hard to see how it is the person made a choice simply because they thought they were when what they actually did is incompatible with the definition of choosing. (And BTW, the Lock example is not even an example of an ED world.)

Robert said: "These words here sound just like a description of the ontological freedom versus practical freedom distinction that I have suggested here (just without using my terms, but making the same distinction!!!).

Would you agree that you are making this same distinction in your words here Arminian?"

***No. As explained above, I am not sure this distinction is valid as you are applying it. But in any case, I believe your argument does not hold up at all because it does not account for an ED world. You have now added an example that does account for an ED world, but I believe that example contradicts your claim. The person in that chess example never ever makes a choice even though he thinks he does. He only carries out the choices another has made. He ever only had one course actually available to him; he did not select from options/alternatives. He thought he did, but this was an illusion. He is little more than a puppet with no mind of his own, though his sinister controller makes him think he has a mind of his own, has choices, and makes choices, all an illusion created by the puppetmaster. (I believe that almost anyone watching that chess game who knew the circumstances, if asked if Joe was choosing his moves, would say, "no; Mr Black his making the choices"; then, if you were to say, "hey, but Joe thinks he is choosing, thinks he has choices; he doesn't know about Mr Black"; then the person would say, "oh yeah, Joe thinks he his making the choices; but he is msitaken; he doesn't realize that he is not really making the choices--it's all Mr Black, that scoundrel!")

Well, if we continue discussion, I would really like to limit it to the issue of making choices in an ED world. I think you are wrong that in an LFW world we can make choices when we do not have choices (how can someone make a choice he does not have?), but the issue is not really important, for the main question is whether that is true in an ED world.

God bless.

Arminian said...

Robert,

I left a long, almost point by point response to you and was posting it when you posted your response to Dan. Now I believe Dan skewered your whole argument with one simple, straightforward question, which makes a point I made a number of times in my repsonse, that in an ED world there are no alternative possibilities, and choosing means selcting between alternative possibilities. Therefore, ED is incompatible with choosing (we already all agree that ED os incompatible with having choices).

Now, you seem to try to explain how we can have access to alternative possibilities in an ED world. But you seem to take refuge in the vagueness of the language Dan used (choices involving alternative possibilities). But the issue is that in ED, there is never such a thing as an alternative possibility for human beings. We never have a choice about anything. And what we do has been irresistibly predetermined so that there is ever only one course of action that we can enact.

Here is a critical point in which you define "alternative possibilities" invalidly, and in such a way as to make your view correct by definition. But again, the problem is that your definition is invalid. You define alternative possibilities like this: "Alternative possibilities are the different options the different possibilities *that we believe that we could choose* when we make our choice" (emphasis mine). But an alternative possibility is not defined by whether we believe it is possibile, but whether it is possible. Something can be described as possible if it is possible--a self evident truth. But it cannot rightly be described as possible if it is impossible. One's belief about whether it is possible or not neither makes it possible or impossible. Your use of this definition confirms some of my critique of your position: in an ED world, people might believe they make choices, but they never really do. Just like they only think they have choices, but it is an illusion, as you readily admit, so they think they make choices, but it is only an illusion. For they never actually select from possible alternatives, but only act as they have irresistibly been made to act.

Your message to Dan also continues another problem that I identified in my last post: you must assume LFW in order to ry and make your point. But the isue is whether the concept of choosing is compatible with ED. It is not, as your reliance on LFW to try and make youre point at times shows. In fact, I think my last post addressed most if not all that you say to Dan. So I'll just leave it there.

Robert said...

Hello Arminian,

“I left a long, almost point by point response to you and was posting it when you posted your response to Dan. Now I believe Dan skewered your whole argument with one simple, straightforward question, which makes a point I made a number of times in my response, that in an ED world there are no alternative possibilities, and choosing means selecting between alternative possibilities.”

Sorry Dan’s question does not “skewer” my whole argument. As I pointed out to Dan, he begs the question when he assumes that Alternative possibilities means that you have ACCESS to them all. Because if you have ACCESS to them all, then you have a choice when making your choice.

“Therefore, ED is incompatible with choosing (we already all agree that ED is incompatible with having choices).”

Wrong again, ED is not incompatible with choosing unless as both of you do, you beg the question and assume that when we consider AP’s in our deliberation, we are considering AP’s all of which we have ACCESS TO. And that is just the point of disagreement, you claim that we cannot make a choice unless we do in fact have access to all of the AP’s that we are considering. While I claim that you may make a choice believing that you have ACCESS to all of the AP’s that you are considering (when in fact you do not have access to all of them, you may only have access to one of them, the one that you end up selecting). If only one is available or accessible to you, and you deliberate thinking more of them of them are in fact accessible (but your belief is incorrect)and you then select the one AP that was in fact accessible to you: YOU HAVE MADE A CHOICE THOUGH YOU DID NOT HAVE A CHOICE!!!!! You HAVE a choice when more than one AP is accessible to you, so that you could choose either one (what is often called the ability to do otherwise). You MAKE a choice when in your mind in your thinking you select one of the AP’s that you believe is available to you (that you believe is a live option). To choose means merely to SELECT an option. You argue that a person must have access to multiple AP’s to MAKE a choice (but again this assumes the point we are disagreeing about). So you assume that one must have a choice to make a choice. You simply beg the question and so your argument is neither persuasive nor valid.

“Now, you seem to try to explain how we can have access to alternative possibilities in an ED world.”

Right, if one can make selections while not having a choice, not actually having access to multiple AP’s (though in your own mind you may believe that you have access to multiple AP’s, simply believing it does not make it so, does not mean your belief corresponds with what is actually the case). If a person does make choices in an ED world he is always operating from a false belief that multiple AP’s are available to him when he makes his choices.

“But you seem to take refuge in the vagueness of the language Dan used (choices involving alternative possibilities).”

I did not take refuge in any sort of vagueness I carefully explained what I believe to be taking place when we make a choice (we deliberate about AP’s that we believe are accessible to us, we then select one of these AP’s and that selected AP is our choice). Was I wrong about my explanation of deliberation and then making a selection?

“But the issue is that in ED, there is never such a thing as an alternative possibility for human beings.”

Let’s be precise, in ED there is never a situation where you HAVE A CHOICE. There is never a situation where the person when making a choice has access to multiple AP’s (each of which he could realize). But in such an ED world could you mistakenly believe that you had ACCESS TO different AP’s when making a choice, and deliberate and then select the one AP that is accessible to you? Yes, in fact you would always select the one AP that was accessible to you (it would be the only AP that was accessible to you, though you mistakenly believe that you had access to different AP’s when you made your choice). And again if you select the one AP that is really accessible to you, you are nevertheless making a selection: and making a selection is what making a choice means.

“We never have a choice about anything. And what we do has been irresistibly predetermined so that there is ever only one course of action that we can enact.”

No argument with that, that is correct, in an ED world “we never have a choice about anything”. That “one course of action that we can enact”, if we select that course of action from AP’s that we believe (though our belief that we have access to multiple AP’s in an ED world WOULD ALWAYS BE MISTAKEN) we have access to: is that not MAKING A CHOICE????

“Here is a critical point in which you define "alternative possibilities" invalidly, and in such a way as to make your view correct by definition.”

How do I define AP’s incorrectly when I define them as the different alternatives that we consider that we believe that we have access to??

You are the one defining things so that your view is correct “by definition” when you ASSUME that we can only make a choice if we have access to multiple AP’s (i.e., we can only make a choice if we have a choice YOU ASSUME).

“But again, the problem is that your definition is invalid. You define alternative possibilities like this: "Alternative possibilities are the different options the different possibilities *that we believe that we could choose* when we make our choice" (emphasis mine).”

Why isn’t my definition acceptable? I have thought about it in my own experience and observed others, when they deliberate about different courses of action that they could take (THEY BELIEVE THAT THEY HAVE ACCESS TO ALL OF THESE ALTERNATIVES; if they did not have that belief then they would not seriously consider the different alternatives as things they could choose).

“But an alternative possibility is not defined by whether we believe it is possible, but whether it is possible.”

Now you are simply dogmatically claiming and stipulating that an AP is an AP only if we have access to it (if we do not have access to it, then it is not possible for us, but an AP is and AP ONLY IF IT IS POSSIBLE for us, possible for us means accessible to us . . . .). but that is a major problem in your whole analysis: people think about things and rightly conclude that we find occasions where we THINK we have ACCESS to some possibility, when in reality (due to various real but actual circumstances) WE DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THAT POSSIBILITY. And since HAVING a choice depends upon having ACCESS to multiple AP’s, the issue of accessibility becomes crucial and cannot simply be ASSUMED to be present as you do.

“Something can be described as possible if it is possible--a self evident truth. But it cannot rightly be described as possible if it is impossible.”

And your talk of possibility here is in regard to actual reality. But something can be possible in one set of circumstances and not possible in another set of different circumstances (e.g., if I am able bodied I can handle other black belts pretty well, but if in sparring I break an arm, some things that were possible before are no longer possible now). Most of us know that in regards to human persons, many or our experiences and possibilities are contingent. That means that it depends on the actual circumstances whether or not something is possible for us. And your statement that: “But it cannot rightly be described as possible if it is impossible” ignores the contingent nature of many of our experiences. The belief that we have access to certain AP’s is just one such contingency (what may be an AP for us in one situation may not be an AP for us in another, something can be “rightly described as possible” in one setting, but then in another setting it would be better to say that what was possible in the other setting is no longer possible in this setting). Some of our beliefs being true depends upon the actual circumstances we find ourselves in. Again, in most circumstances I can handle myself quite well, but if my arm were broken what was possible in another set of circumstances is not possible now. And the same goes for beliefs about whether or not we have access to particular AP’s in a particular situation. Ordinarily when I go to Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor (the standard flavors of strawberry, vanilla chocolate are AP’s that are accessible to me; but situations can arise in which for various reasons, those AP’s are no longer accessible when I make a choice).

“One's belief about whether it is possible or not neither makes it possible or impossible.”

OK, so if that is true, then could I believe that I have access to various AP’s in a particular situation AND BE MISTAKEN? If I can be mistaken then I could believe that I have access to various AP’s when making a decision though in fact I do not have access to all of these various AP’s. So I would in that instance believe that I HAD A CHOICE, though in reality I did not have a choice. One’s belief about whether or not we have access to certain AP’s does not determine whether or not those AP’s are actually accessible to us. Whether they are really accessible to us is an ontological question separate from my beliefs. I could believe that I have access to X when in fact I do not have access to X: likewise, I could believe that I do not have access to X when in fact I did have access to X. What really determines whether or not the AP is accessible or not is an ontological question (does my belief correspond to actual reality or not?)

“Your use of this definition confirms some of my critique of your position: in an ED world, people might believe they make choices, but they never really do.”

We agree on this because we believe that in an ED world no one ever HAS A CHOICE.

“Just like they only think they have choices, but it is an illusion, as you readily admit, so they think they make choices, but it is only an illusion.”

This is where you fail to get it. When they go through the process of deliberating and then making a selection, THEY ARE MAKING A CHOICE, MAKING A SELECTION (whether they have access to multiple AP’s or not). Having a choice in an Ed world is illusory: but making a choice in an ED world could be possible (if you mistakenly believe you have access to multiple AP’s, and based upon that mistaken belief, that belief that does not correspond to the reality that you have access only to one of the AP’s you are considering in your mind, you make a selection from among the AP’s that you believed you had access to).

“For they never actually select from possible alternatives,”

No, wrong again, they do SELECT from what they believe to be possible alternatives (though in fact they do not have ACCESS to all of these possible alternatives).

“but only act as they have irresistibly been made to act.”

They will irresistibly MAKE the choice that they make, but make no mistake they are MAKING A CHOICE if we define making a choice as making a selection from among the alternatives that you believe to be possible.

“Your message to Dan also continues another problem that I identified in my last post: you must assume LFW in order to try and make your point. But the issue is whether the concept of choosing is compatible with ED.”

And you are dead wrong about whether or not “the concept of choosing is compatible with Ed.” You believe, wrongly, that if ED were true that people not only never have choices they also never make choices. I believe contrary to this that in an ED world, we never have choices, but we may make choices. Where you make your mistake is to fail to differentiate between the former that AP’s we believe we have access to (but are mistaken about in this belief) and the latter that AP’s we believe we have access to, and do in fact have access to (so our belief corresponds with reality). You assume that AP’s ***must be defined*** as the latter belief (which assumes that in fact the AP’s are accessible when the choice is made, and so in making that assumption leads to the conclusion that whenever we make a choice we had a choice). But I take the former belief to be something that could happen in both an ED world and in a world where things are not exhaustively determined. And if a person could have the former belief about the AP’s he/she is considering when deliberating and then making their selection, THEN A PERSON COULD MAKE A CHOICE WHILE NOT HAVING A CHOICE. The former belief is compatible with (or could occur in) both an ED world and a non-ED world, while the latter belief is compatible (or could occur in) **only** with a non-ED world. So you conclude, mistakenly, that even in an ED world a person can never ***make*** a choice (since you assume that a person cannot make a choice unless they have a choice.

Robert

Arminian said...

Robert said: "Sorry Dan’s question does not “skewer” my whole argument. As I pointed out to Dan, he begs the question when he assumes that Alternative possibilities means that you have ACCESS to them all. Because if you have ACCESS to them all, then you have a choice when making your choice."

****Ok, this is just a matter of simple definition. And we may havbe to agree to disagree. I think it painfully, undeniably obvious that something is a possible alterbnatvie only if it is possible, that is accessible. If it is not possible, then it is not a possible alternative. This is the biggest key to the whole disagreement. It could come down to simple irreconcilable disagreement over the definition of possible. But I hinestly can't understand how you can deny my point. I truly believe if you were to ask just about anyone if something is a *possible* alternative, then they would say that the alternative must be accessible, otherwise it is not possible. Therefoee, Dan did skewer your entire argument with one very simple, straightforward question IMO.

Robet said: "Wrong again, ED is not incompatible with choosing unless as both of you do, you beg the question and assume that when we consider AP’s in our deliberation, we are considering AP’s all of which we have ACCESS TO."

****This is not a matter of asssuming, but simply recognizing the very most basic definition of possible alternative. Your position apparently is that something can be a possible alternative for us yet us not be able to access it, i.e., it is something that is possible for us to choose, yet we cannot choose it. That is utterly contradictory. This is why I think we may simply be at an impasse based on disagreement over the very most basic meaning of words. If so, then we shoudl probably end the conversation. I do think that just about anyone would agree with me and Dan and Ben on this, whether a possible alternative must be possible to choose.

Robert said: And that is just the point of disagreement, you claim that we cannot make a choice unless we do in fact have access to all of the AP’s that we are considering.

****If it is a *possible* alternative, then it is accessible. So by definition, we have access to all of the AP’s that we are considering. If you label something as a *possible* alternative, then we have access to it. This point of definition undoes just about everything lese you say. So I will not engage everything point by point from hereon out. I will select certain comments I think should be addressed.

Robert said: "While I claim that you may make a choice believing that you have ACCESS to all of the AP’s that you are considering (when in fact you do not have access to all of them, you may only have access to one of them, the one that you end up selecting). If only one is available or accessible to you, and you deliberate thinking more of them of them are in fact accessible (but your belief is incorrect)and you then select the one AP that was in fact accessible to you: YOU HAVE MADE A CHOICE THOUGH YOU DID NOT HAVE A CHOICE!!!!!

****Believing something is possible does not make it possible. When someone believes something is posible, but it is not, it is an illusion, just as is the idea of making a choice when one does not have a choice.

Robert said: "You HAVE a choice when more than one AP is accessible to you, so that you could choose either one (what is often called the ability to do otherwise). You MAKE a choice when in your mind in your thinking you select one of the AP’s that you believe is available to you (that you believe is a live option).

****But you are not selecting if you do not select from available alternatives. If you can only do one thing, then you are not choosing. You arw simply doing something you had to do and could not avoid doing.

Robert said: "To choose means merely to SELECT an option."

****And what is an option? An available course, one of multiple alternative possibilities! To choose is to select from possible/available alternatives. SThe very word "select" implies more than one actual possibility. If something is not possible, then it is not an option, as the saying goes.

Robert said: "You argue that a person must have access to multiple AP’s to MAKE a choice (but again this assumes the point we are disagreeing about). So you assume that one must have a choice to make a choice. You simply beg the question and so your argument is neither persuasive nor valid.

****It is not begging the question, but calling attention to the basic definition of the terms and showing that they refute your position. This again is why we may just be an an impasse. You may be unwilling to agree to the normal understanding of some of the basic terms like "possible" and "choose"

Robert said: "I carefully explained what I believe to be taking place when we make a choice (we deliberate about AP’s that we believe are accessible to us, we then select one of these AP’s and that selected AP is our choice). Was I wrong about my explanation of deliberation and then making a selection?"

****Yes. For making a selection means selecting from possible (i.e., accessible) alternatives.

****I said: “But the issue is that in ED, there is never such a thing as an alternative possibility for human beings.”

Robert said: "Let’s be precise, in ED there is never a situation where you HAVE A CHOICE. There is never a situation where the person when making a choice has access to multiple AP’s (each of which he could realize).

****Wait a minute. Are you saying that in ED, we do have possible alternatives, that there is more than one course of action we can take at any given point? *If so*, I say wow. Again, we would be at an impasse. I take it as undeniable that ED means we can only do the thing we have been predetermined to do. No other course is possible. But I think this shows that you have to redefine ED into something that it is not in order to reconcile it with choosing if you are implying what you seem to be implying.

Robert said: "But in such an ED world could you mistakenly believe that you had ACCESS TO different AP’s when making a choice, and deliberate and then select the one AP that is accessible to you? Yes, in fact you would always select the one AP that was accessible to you (it would be the only AP that was accessible to you, though you mistakenly believe that you had access to different AP’s when you made your choice). And again if you select the one AP that is really accessible to you, you are nevertheless making a selection: and making a selection is what making a choice means."

****Again, your whole scheme is wrong because selecting requires possible/available alternatives. So in ED, one never selects. One only does the one thing one can do. rememebr, all deliberations in an ED world are also predetermined. So one can only deliberate in one way.

****I said: “We never have a choice about anything. And what we do has been irresistibly predetermined so that there is ever only one course of action that we can enact.”

Robert said: "No argument with that, that is correct, in an ED world “we never have a choice about anything”. That “one course of action that we can enact”, if we select that course of action from AP’s that we believe (though our belief that we have access to multiple AP’s in an ED world WOULD ALWAYS BE MISTAKEN) we have access to: is that not MAKING A CHOICE????

****Here you seem to be contradicting yourself, if you meant to imply that in ED we have possible alternatives. If you agree that there is ever only one course of action that we can enact, as you indicate, then we never have possible alternatives, but as you now admit, only ever one course of action that we can enact.

Robert said: How do I define AP’s incorrectly when I define them as the different alternatives that we consider that we believe that we have access to??

****I explianed it. You make our belief about what is possible the issue rather than what is in fact possible. But possibility is not determined by our belief, but by reality and whether the thing is indeed possible, whether it can be done, etc.

Robert said: "You are the one defining things so that your view is correct “by definition” when you ASSUME that we can only make a choice if we have access to multiple AP’s (i.e., we can only make a choice if we have a choice YOU ASSUME)."

****No, my point has been that that is the definition. If something is a possible alternative, then we have access to it. If it is possible to choose, ehten we can choose it. if we cannot choose it, then it is not a possible alternative nor an option.

Robert said: "Why isn’t my definition acceptable? I have thought about it in my own experience and observed others, when they deliberate about different courses of action that they could take (THEY BELIEVE THAT THEY HAVE ACCESS TO ALL OF THESE ALTERNATIVES; if they did not have that belief then they would not seriously consider the different alternatives as things they could choose)." Your definition is not acceptable because it is not a standard definition, but an idiosyncratic one. These observations of yours do not define the term. Obseving that people believe they have possible alternatives when they do not only shows that they were not actually possible alternatives. Don't you see this? It is incredibly basic. This again is why we may be at an impasse. And that is fine.

****I said: “But an alternative possibility is not defined by whether we believe it is possible, but whether it is possible.”

Robert said: "Now you are simply dogmatically claiming and stipulating that an AP is an AP only if we have access to it (if we do not have access to it, then it is not possible for us, but an AP is and AP ONLY IF IT IS POSSIBLE for us, possible for us means accessible to us . . . .). but that is a major problem in your whole analysis: people think about things and rightly conclude that we find occasions where we THINK we have ACCESS to some possibility, when in reality (due to various real but actual circumstances) WE DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THAT POSSIBILITY. And since HAVING a choice depends upon having ACCESS to multiple AP’s, the issue of accessibility becomes crucial and cannot simply be ASSUMED to be present as you do."

****I do not at all deny that someone can think something is possible when it is not. But their thinking it possible does not make it possible. So it is only really a *possible* aternative if it is really possible. And for it to be really possible, it must be accessible. Do you deny that? How can it be actually possible if it is not accessible?

Robert said: "And your talk of possibility here is in regard to actual reality."

****Yes, yes, yes! That is why one only actually chooses, really chooses if one has possible/accessible alternatives (plural, i.e., more than one).

Robert said: "But something can be possible in one set of circumstances and not possible in another set of different circumstances (e.g., if I am able bodied I can handle other black belts pretty well, but if in sparring I break an arm, some things that were possible before are no longer possible now). Most of us know that in regards to human persons, many or our experiences and possibilities are contingent. That means that it depends on the actual circumstances whether or not something is possible for us.

****This is all true but totally irrelevant.

Robert said: "And your statement that: “But it cannot rightly be described as possible if it is impossible” ignores the contingent nature of many of our experiences.

****Not at all. Remember that we are talking about ED. And in ED, God's predestining decree determines the possibility or impossibility of all things, including our thoughts and willing and actions. So in ED, there is no question of something being contingently possible or impossible outside of the outcome of those contingencies having also been certainly and irresistibly predetermined. So, in fact, your appeal to contingency ignores the whole reality of ED, which is at the heart of what we are talking about. There is a lot more that could be said about this if we were to consider an LFW world, but that is unecessary since the real issue is the (correct) claim that ED is incompatible with choosing.

****I said: “One's belief about whether it is possible or not neither makes it possible or impossible.”

Robert said: "OK, so if that is true, then could I believe that I have access to various AP’s in a particular situation AND BE MISTAKEN?

****Yes, of course. I have agreed to that all along.

Robert said: "If I can be mistaken then I could believe that I have access to various AP’s when making a decision though in fact I do not have access to all of these various AP’s.

****Not if they are genuine possible alternatives, for they would then be accessible by definition. But you could think some were possible alternatives when they are in fact not possible alternatives.

Robert said: "So I would in that instance believe that I HAD A CHOICE, though in reality I did not have a choice. One’s belief about whether or not we have access to certain AP’s does not determine whether or not those AP’s are actually accessible to us."

****Which is properly another way of saying one’s belief about whether or not we have access to certain alternatives does not determine whether or not those alternatives are actually accessible to us, or ne’s belief about whether or not certain alternatives are possible does not determine whether or not those alternatives are actually possible. (I should add that a real alternative is necessarily a possible alternative in normal usage; but one can imagine courses of action that are alternative, but possible. So to be clear, I qualify alternative with possible).

Robert said: "Whether they are really accessible to us is an ontological question separate from my beliefs. I could believe that I have access to X when in fact I do not have access to X: likewise, I could believe that I do not have access to X when in fact I did have access to X. What really determines whether or not the AP is accessible or not is an ontological question (does my belief correspond to actual reality or not?)"

****But do you not see that your belief does not determine reality? If you believe you have a choice, but don't, and then do something of necessity and could not avoid doing it, then you did not choose to do it, but had the illusion of having a choice about it, and the illusion of choosing it.

****I said: “Just like they only think they have choices, but it is an illusion, as you readily admit, so they think they make choices, but it is only an illusion.”

Robert said: "This is where you fail to get it. When they go through the process of deliberating and then making a selection, THEY ARE MAKING A CHOICE, MAKING A SELECTION (whether they have access to multiple AP’s or not).

****No they are not, because by definition, a possible alternative must be possible; if it is not possible, then by undeniable definition, it is not possible.

Robert said: "Having a choice in an Ed world is illusory: but making a choice in an ED world could be possible (if you mistakenly believe you have access to multiple AP’s, and based upon that mistaken belief, that belief that does not correspond to the reality that you have access only to one of the AP’s you are considering in your mind, you make a selection from among the AP’s that you believed you had access to)."

****Again, you seem to somehow think that believing something is possible somehow makes it possible, in this case, believing one can choose somhow means one can choose when one could do nothing other than what one did.

****I said: “For they never actually select from possible alternatives,”

Robert said: "No, wrong again, they do SELECT from what they believe to be possible alternatives (though in fact they do not have ACCESS to all of these possible alternatives)."

****Again, believing them possible does not make them possible. So if they are impossible, then they are not possible alternatives.

Robert said: "They will irresistibly MAKE the choice that they make, but make no mistake they are MAKING A CHOICE if we define making a choice as making a selection from among the alternatives that you believe to be possible."

****Right, if we define making a choice invalidly, in a way that pretty much no one uses the term IMO. And here is where we may be at an impasse. But again, I am confident it is an impasse that almost anyone would agree with me on. And that is the point, ED is incompatible with the normal understanding of choosing, the one used in the Bible and by most people. This is why ED proponents must appeal to idiosyncratic definitions to try and make their usage of choice and choosing consistent with ED.

The rest of your message just goes over the same ground. So I'll stop comment here.

God bless.

Arminian said...

BTW, early on in my last comment, I said I was not going to continue to engage point by point, but then I mostly did.

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Robert,

I believe I understand what you are saying. Let’s focus on “failed attempts” (i.e. I tried to eat chocolate, but they were sold out). The failed attempts are the key to distinguishing your examples from determinism.

AP’s come in pairs. If it’s by itself, it’s not part of a set of alternatives. Let’s talk about chocolate or vanilla. Let’s say I can choose vanilla and eat it. So I have access to vanilla. But on the other hand, while I can choose to attempt to eat chocolate, I cannot eat it, because they are sold out. So I thought I had access to the AP of eating chocolate or vanilla. I was wrong. But I still had access to the AP of eating vanilla and failing in the attempt to eat chocolate. So AP still comes in pairs.

Enter ED. Let’s assume I am determined to eat vanilla. Choosing chocolate is impossible, as is eating chocolate. They may be hypothetical possible, but they are not actually possible (i.e. I could choose it, if I wanted to and I could eat it, if I choose to). I could still think I can eat chocolate, but my belief would be false. It’s not really AP, because it’s not in a pair. Eating vanilla is possible, eating chocolate is not (nor is failing in the attempt).

You see, in the libertarian system the failed attempt preserves AP, even though it’s not the AP we had in mind, but in the deterministic system we cannot fail in the attempt. We will and must eat vanilla; eating chocolate is impossible and therefore not a part of a pair of alternative possibilities, even though we might incorrectly think it’s possible and part of a pair of APs.

God be with you,
Dan

Robert said...

Hello Arminian,

Well I went back and looked over the posts and I believe I came across something that may be causing a lot of the disagreements we are having. Unintentionally we are operating on an equivocation of terms. I am thinking of one thing while Arminian is thinking of another thing, while using the words that are very similar.

It came to me looking at Dan’s words where he writes (note my emphasis, the capitalized words):


“Determinists can say they "make a choice", only by using specialized definitions and avoiding common sense ones. If choices involves POSIBLE ALTERNATIVES, then they neither have or make them, since determinism rules out POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES.

Does your understanding of "make a choice" include POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE?”

Note Dan is asking about and talking about POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES. And what have I been talking about? ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITIES. We need to ask: are POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES (PA’S) the same as ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITIES (AP’s)?

If I see the phrase “possible alternative” then I would take that to mean an alternative that is definitely possible for a person to actualize. In contrast when I use the term “alternative possibility” I am speaking of the thoughts that a person has that they regard (or believe) to be possibilities that they can actualize. So I am referring to the belief a person has about what they take to be possible for them. Now as I have repeatedly emphasized, you may believe that you could actualize a particular AP when in reality due to circumstances you cannot actualize that AP. I would suggest that PA’s and AP’s, are not synonymous, they can be differentiated. PA’s are alternatives the person definitely can actualize, while AP’s are alternatives the person may or may not be able to actualize.

Another example of AP’s to illustrate the difference between PA’s and AP’s: say that I am thinking about which restaurant to go to for dinner tonight (let’s limit it to 3 choices: a Mexican restaurant, an Italian restaurant, and an American Barbeque restaurant, these are the three AP’s that I deliberate about, that I am considering in making my choice, and while deliberating about them I believe that all three are accessible I could go to any of the three tonight). But unbeknownst to me, the Italian restaurant that I had in mind is closed for renovations and the Barbeque place is having a private party tonight and so is not open to the public tonight (but I don’t know any of this as I deliberate about the 3 and come to my decision). Say I choose the Mexican restaurant, the only one that happens to be actually available and accessible to me tonight. If I go there, I would believe that I had made a choice from among the 3 AP’s that I was considering in my mind. I would believe that I had made a selection and that I had done so freely and without coercion. Now those 3 restaurants **were** AP’s (different possibilities that I believed I had access to, though in reality I was wrong about 2 of them, 2 of them were not really possible for me to go to). Were those 3 restaurants POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES for me? NO, because a possible alternative would have to be an alternative that you could in fact actualize if you chose to do so. But I could not have gone to 2 of those restaurants, thus, they were not all possible alternatives for me. In fact, only the Mexican restaurant was a possible alternative for me.

Hopefully this illustration makes the distinction between AP’s and PA’s clear. I believe that Dan and Arminian have been talking about PA’s, while I have been talking about AP’s, and they are not the same. They also should not be confused or taken as to be referring to the same thing.

Here is an example from Arminian (again note what he is referring to (the capitalized words are my emphasis):

“For choosing by definition means selecting between POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES. If one is exhaustively controlled by another, then there are no alternatives, no options, only one course that can be enacted. Therefore, one does not have a choice nor does one make a choice. Thinking one has a choice or makes a choice does not change the reality. The best the ED advocate and you could reasonably affirm is that people in such a world think they have choices and think they choose, but this is an illusion. One thinks he makes choices, but in fact, he does not genuinely select among POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES. Therefore he does not genuinely choose. Choice and choosing is only an illusion. And this flatly contradicts the Bible, which makes it clear that people have choices and make choices. So you are actually on to something when you talk about how living in an ED world would be to live in a world of illusion with respect to having choices. You simply need to add that choosing would also be an illusion.”

Note that Arminians’ comments are in reference to POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES, not “ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILTIES.” And he is right in the comments that he makes about “possible alternatives”. In and ED world you would only do the thing you were determined to do, there would be no other **possible alternatives.** Note he also says that if you lived in such a world it would be a world of illusion with respect to **having choices**. What do you have to have to have a choice? Access to at least two different **possible alternatives**. But you could not have this as since you are determined to do X, no other alternative is possible.

Arminian is right in his comments about **possible alternatives** but he is mistaken in his comments about “alternative possibilities”:

“Now I believe Dan skewered your whole argument with one simple, straightforward question, which makes a point I made a number of times in my response, that in an ED world there are no ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITIES, and choosing means selecting between ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITIES. Therefore, ED is incompatible with choosing (we already all agree that ED is incompatible with having choices).”

Wait a minute, it is true that an ED world is incompatible with PA’s, but could you have AP’s in a completely determined world? Could a person believe that he has access to different alternatives when he thinks about making a choice (but in reality, like in the restaurant example, not have access to all of the AP’s that he thinks about when making a decision/a choice from among AP’s that he is considering/deliberating about)? Yes, in fact just as in the restaurant example, what would be happening is that a person would consider different AP’s in his mind, then select one, and the one he selects would simultaneously be the only one he really had access to [just as I happened to choose the Mexican restaurant believing I could have chosen any of the 3 restaurants when in reality I could only select, I really only had access to one, the one that I did in fact select].

Now assume we were in an ED word, and note carefully what would be happening in such a case of the choice of restaurant: I would not **have** a choice (because to have a choice I would need to be able to access any of the three restaurants, but since my choice was predetermined, it would be impossible for me to choose the Italian or Barbeque restaurants, I could and would only choose the Mexican restaurant). Now would I be making a choice, would I be making a selection here? If you are talking about in reference to AP’s, the answer would be Yes (I considered the different AP’s in my mind, believing that I had access to all 3 that I could choose any of the three). But if you are talking about in reference to PA’s, the answer would be No (because for those 3 restaurants to be “possible alternatives” I would need to have access to all 3 [which means that I really would have a choice between all 3] but in and ED world we never ever have choices. And in regards to possible alternatives, if the 3 restaurants are all possible alternatives, then when making my choice I would have a choice. So PA’s if present mean that whenever you make a choice you also had a choice. But it cannot be overemphasized, my discussion has not been on whether or not we have PA’s in an ED world (we would not), my discussion has been on whether or not we could be selecting from AP’s in and ED world (and the answer is that Yes we could make a choice from among AP’s we were considering in our minds in an ED word, in such a world we would not HAVE CHOICES, but in selecting one AP from among others, we would be MAKING A CHOICE in an ED world, what would be illusory in an ED world is our ever having choices, but we could be making choices).


“****Ok, this is just a matter of simple definition. And we may have to agree to disagree. I think it painfully, undeniably obvious that something is a POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE only if it is possible, that is accessible. If it is not possible, then it is not a possible alternative. This is the biggest key to the whole disagreement. It could come down to simple irreconcilable disagreement over the definition of possible. But I honestly can't understand how you can deny my point. I truly believe if you were to ask just about anyone if something is a *POSSIBLE* ALTERNATIVE, then they would say that the alternative must be accessible, otherwise it is not possible.”

This is another example where Arminian is clearly referring to **possible alternatives** not **alternative possibilities**. And everything he says about possible alternatives is correct. Our disagreement then was not about the meaning of possible, but caused by mixing up or confusing two distinct phrases, phrases that do not refer to the same thing.

Another example where Arminian is focused on possible alternatives thinking that I was focused on them, when I was focused on alternative possibilities:


“****This is not a matter of assuming, but simply recognizing the very most basic definition of POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE. Your position apparently is that something can be a POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE for us yet us not be able to access it, i.e., it is something that is possible for us to choose, yet we cannot choose it. That is utterly contradictory. This is why I think we may simply be at an impasse based on disagreement over the very most basic meaning of words. If so, then we should probably end the conversation. I do think that just about anyone would agree with me and Dan and Ben on this, whether a POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE must be possible to choose.”

Now note carefully that Arminian also confused PA’s and AP’s though they are not the same thing:

“****If it is a *POSSIBLE* ALTERNATIVE, then it is accessible. So by definition, we have access to all of the AP’s that we are considering. If you label something as a *POSSIBLE* ALTERNATIVE, then we have access to it. This point of definition undoes just about everything else you say.”

Note first line is correct, if it is a PA then it is accessible. But note the error in the second line: “by definition, we have access to all of the AP’s that we are considering.” Here is the mistake, Arminian is referring to PA’s but then switches a truth about PA’s (that if they are possible for you then you have access to them all) mistakenly to AP’s (that “we have access to all of the AP’s that we are considering”). That is not true of AP’s, again in the restaurant example, I do not have access to all of the AP’s that I am considering because 2 of the restaurants due to circumstances are not accessible to me.

Arminian asks:

“****Wait a minute. Are you saying that in ED, we do have possible alternatives, that there is more than one course of action we can take at any given point?”

My answer to this is that No, because in and ED world we do not have PA’s, we cannot do otherwise than we in fact do, there are not other courses of action available to us when we make choices. But, if you ask about whether or not AP’s could be present in and ED world, then the answer is Yes.

“I take it as undeniable that ED means we can only do the thing we have been predetermined to do. No other course is possible.”

Correct.

“But I think this shows that you have to redefine ED into something that it is not in order to reconcile it with choosing if you are implying what you seem to be implying.”

Not quite, I don’t have to redefine ED, what I need to do is properly distinguish PA’s and AP’s and suggest that while PA’s are not present in an ED world, AP’s could be. And if AP’s could be, then while you would never HAVE A CHOICE in an ED world, you could MAKE choices in an ED world if you considered various AP’s in your mind believing them [mistakenly] to all be accessible to you and then selected one of them (i.e., made a choice from among the AP’s that you were considering in your mind).

“****Again, your whole scheme is wrong because selecting requires possible/available alternatives. So in ED, one never selects. One only does the one thing one can do.”

Not true, in an ED world if AP’s were present and you chose one, then one does in fact select in an ED world (and the claim by Arminian that “So in ED, one never selects” is false).

“****Here you seem to be contradicting yourself, if you meant to imply that in ED we have possible alternatives. If you agree that there is ever only one course of action that we can enact, as you indicate, then we never have possible alternatives, but as you now admit, only ever one course of action that we can enact.”

Note here that Arminian thinks I am talking about possible alternatives being present in an ED world (when in fact throughout the discussion I have been talking about ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITIES).

“****This is not a matter of assuming, but simply recognizing the very most basic definition of possible alternative. Your position apparently is that something can be a possible alternative for us yet us not be able to access it, i.e., it is something that is possible for us to choose, yet we cannot choose it. That is utterly contradictory.”

Right I would be “utterly contradictory” if I said of PA’s that something is possible for us and yet we cannot access it. But I haven’t been talking about PA’s, I have been talking about AP’s where you could believe they are all possible (I could go to all 3 restaurants) and yet I do not have access to all 3 of these AP’s, I only have access to the Mexican restaurant).

“I do think that just about anyone would agree with me and Dan and Ben on this, whether a possible alternative must be possible to choose.”

You are right about POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES, in fact not only would Dan and Ben agree with you on PA’s ****I would agree with you**** about PA’s. But again, I have not been talking about PA’s in an ED world I have been talking about AP’s in an ED world. While PA’s do not and could not exist in and ED world, AP’s could. And if AP’s could and if I only and always choose the alternative that I was predetermined to choose I would never ever have a choice, but I would be making a choice.

Arminian’s repeated mistake in this discussion has been the mixing up of PA’s and AP’s or to use the famous expression “apples and oranges”. Arminian has been talking about apples and I have been talking about oranges, hopefully this post will go a long way to clearing things up.

And I must say to both Arminian and Dan that I greatly appreciate the interaction; I consider it to be a case of “iron sharpening iron” among brothers. By challenging me in my thinking, you are making me think more carefully about things, be more precise in my use of language, and making my position stronger by doing so. I make mistakes like everybody else, so I need to be challenged and corrected as well,

Thanks guys,

Robert

arminianperspectives said...

Robert,

I must admit that it seems like you are playing semantic games here (though you probably do not intend to).

Here is how I see it:

Alternative possibilities = alternatives that are possible = possible alternatives. It is exactly the same thing. It is like saying that, "You are talking about brown dogs, but I am talking about dogs that are brown. Everything you say is true of brown dogs, but I am not talking about brown dogs, I am talking about dogs that are brown, so what you say about brown dogs does not apply to what I am saying."

There really is no difference between AP's and PA's anymore than there is a difference between brown dogs and dogs that are brown.

Perhaps you should drop AP's and go with PAP's (perceived alternative possibilities). That might make some sense. Maybe it would even be better to just speak of perceived alternatives since they are not really possible (though alternative implies possibility, so that might not really help). But trying to cling to AP's or trying to say that AP's and PA's are very different seems like semantic games (though I assume you are just trying to be clear, but IMO you are just adding to confusion by clinging to terms that do not seem to apply and drawing what appears to be invalid distinctions).

So from where I am sitting you hold to perceived possibilities and perceived choices. But neither the possibility nor the choice is real (i.e. grounded in reality).

But still, there is an undeniable connection between having and making choices. Even if we imagine that we "make" a choice in our minds we must first imagine that we "have" a choice to make. So if you own "making" choices in regards to perception only, then you must own "having" choices with regards to that same perception. If you deny one, then you deny it on the grounds of it's connection with reality, and in doing so the other follows. They must stand or fall together.

If you do not really have a choice than you cannot really make a choice and if you only believe you make choices, then you must also believe you have choices to make. So we cannot make a real choice unless we have a real choice. If we do not have a real choice then it is nonsense to say we make a real choice, and irrelevant to say we make an unreal (or illusionary) choice (which is really no different than not making a choice at all since the choice isn't real but illusionary- an unreal choice is not a choice).

But as has been demonstrated, even your imagination is predetermined and necessitated in an ED world, so even your "perceived" choice is not a choice, because you can only imagine one way, the predetermined and necessitated way.

God Bless,
Ben

Arminian said...

I agree with Ben. I had prepared most of my response, but then lost it! So I am glad very that Ben posted a response along the same lines. Let me add that I appreciate you thinking through the issue Robert, and seeking to find the disconnect between our views. Nevertheless, I believe Ben is completely correct that APs and PA's are the same thing, and that you are offering an incorrect definition of AP's as necessarily involving our beliefs. Ben makes a good situation that you seem to be talking about perceived AP'ss/PA's. But perception is not inherent to them.

I had considered the very issue you address Robert. Ben has hit on it with the idea of perception. And I think that Dan actually hit it with speaking of hypotheticals. You should probably talk about perceived alternatives/possibilities or hypothetical possibilities or sdomething. But none of this touches the point Dan, Ben, and myelf have made: ED is incompatible with the notion of choosing, which refers to selecting from possible alternatives / alternative possibilities / accessible alternatives / accessible options / and actually simply alternatives or options.

God bless.

Robert said...

Hello Ben,

Nice to see you join the fray, it is now three against one, but that’s OK, I still believe you guys are mistaken! :-)

“I must admit that it seems like you are playing semantic games here (though you probably do not intend to).”

No intention to engage in semantic games, just trying to make careful and useful distinctions in order to think about these things properly.

“Here is how I see it:

Alternative possibilities = alternatives that are possible = possible alternatives. It is exactly the same thing. It is like saying that, "You are talking about brown dogs, but I am talking about dogs that are brown. Everything you say is true of brown dogs, but I am not talking about brown dogs, I am talking about dogs that are brown, so what you say about brown dogs does not apply to what I am saying."”

If that were true then it would be just “semantic games”. But I am trying to distinguish two things: what we believe to be accessible alternatives, and WHAT ACTUALLY ARE THE ALTERNATIVES ACCESSIBLE TO US. In my restaurant example which you completely ignored, I thought that I had access to all 3 restaurants, but in reality I had access to only 1. So how do we capture this notion that the actually available alternatives are ONE THING, and our thoughts about these available alternatives are ANOTHER THING. I am a big believer in the correspondence view of truth (i.e., we have the truth when our thoughts correspond to the truth, our thoughts correspond to what really is the case). I have given multiple examples now, and also have experienced this kind of thing personally, that I thought one thing was true but in reality my belief was mistaken it was not true. I have specifically had this experience with having and making choices where I believed I had access to X, Y and Z, but then come to find out that I had access to only X and Z, or had access to only Z. I have also experienced and witnessed cases where someone was unaware of an alternative that was in fact accessible to them (so X was available and accessible, but since “Joe” did not know about it, he never even considered it or deliberated about it, he missed the opportunity and yet it was right there).

So in order to capture this reality I distinguish: (1) the AP’s that we consider in our minds and in our deliberations (which may or may not correspond with actual reality) FROM (2) the AP’s that are actually present in a given situation.

Perhaps you guys are talking about (2) while I am talking about (1) and yet I use the term alternative possibilities to refer to (1). While you guys are talking about (2) and calling them possible alternatives and also calling them alternative possibilities.


“There really is no difference between AP's and PA's anymore than there is a difference between brown dogs and dogs that are brown.”

Perhaps there is no difference between the (2) version of AP’s and PA’s. But there is clearly a distinguishable difference between (1) version of AP’s and PA’s (they are not the same at all). Staying with your example of no difference between brown dogs and dogs that are brown: is there a difference between our thoughts that a dog is brown versus a dog that is actually brown??

And this all goes to the point of contention: can you make choices in a world that is completely determined? You three amigos say No. I say Yes. You three argue that in an ED world there are no POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES (or I believe AP’s in the (2) version). You three amigos believe that we can never make a choice unless we have an actual choice. And by “actual choice” you mean a choice where there are possible alternatives (which takes you right back to assuming that when we make a choice we must have a choice).

But as I have taken pains to explain, our subjective experience our thoughts about what alternatives are actually available to us in a situation sometimes do not correspond with what is actually the case. And choosing means simply to select from among alternatives. So if I choose from what I believe to be AP’s, I am in fact making a choice. And if my thoughts (the subjective side) do not correspond with reality (the objective side) in regards to a particular choice, while I am making a choice, am I still making a choice? Apparently you guys would answer No. Because you guys believe that unless we have a choice when making a choice we are not really making a choice.

Perhaps another way to state this is that possible alternatives relates to the objective side (if X, Y, and Z are possible alternatives to “Joe”, then whether or not he chooses them, they are in fact present in a situation for “Joe” to choose, they are objective facts, even if “Joe’s doesn’t know about them, they are still there and accessible to “Joe”). But choosing or selecting in your mind relates to the subjective side (no one else sees you making the choice, no one else [except God] knows what you are deliberating about when you consider what you believe to be accessible alternatives). And again our beliefs (the subjective side) corresponds with reality (the objective side) and we have the truth. But we can be mistaken in our beliefs, our beliefs may not correspond with objective reality (in objective reality there may be 10 possible alternatives, but I mistakenly believe I will access 2 other alternatives that are not part of the 10 that are objectively present and so possible). We can also have circumstances out of our control impinge on what we believe to be our alternative possibilities (like the restaurant example where one is closed for renovations and another is having a private party that I did not get invited to or know about).

“Perhaps you should drop AP's and go with PAP's (perceived alternative possibilities). That might make some sense.”

That might be a good suggestion. As “perceived alternative possibilities”(PaP) goes to what I am getting at about our beliefs, the subjective not necessarily matching the objective, the actually available possibilities.” (AaP)

“Maybe it would even be better to just speak of perceived alternatives since they are not really possible (though alternative implies possibility, so that might not really help).”

OK then the distinction would be between our perceived alternatives in our minds when we are deliberating and the actual alternatives that are present from which we could choose.

“But trying to cling to AP's or trying to say that AP's and PA's are very different seems like semantic games (though I assume you are just trying to be clear, but IMO you are just adding to confusion by clinging to terms that do not seem to apply and drawing what appears to be invalid distinctions).”

Again, I am trying to make valid distinctions to make my points. It is only semantic game playing if I am trying to obscure things, fool people, intentionally be ambiguous in order to not allow people to see what I really believe, etc. etc. None of this is going on here.

“So from where I am sitting you hold to perceived possibilities and perceived choices. But neither the possibility nor the choice is real (i.e. grounded in reality).”

Close, I hold to perceived possibilities which is what we use when we make our choices in our minds. I am not talking about “perceived choices” because I am talking about **actual** choices. An actual choice being when we make a choice based upon our “perceived choices.” So the “perceived choices” may or may not correspond to the actual possibilities that are available in that situation (I guess what you are calling possible alternatives). That choice we make based upon our “perceived choices” is not a PERCEIVED CHOICE but **is** an ACTUAL CHOICE.

Now in regards to your last line here: “neither the possibility nor the choice is real (i.e. grounded in reality)” is a bit more troublesome. The perceived possibility corresponds to reality if there is a corresponding actual possibility which matches the perceived possibility (if the subjective belief, the perceived possibility, matches the objective reality/the actual possibility). Now I would say that we have to be careful about what we mean by “grounded in reality” since there is both a subjective reality and objective reality. I believe you are referring to objective reality so that you mean something is “grounded in reality” if it is actual, if it is part of external and internal reality. But we cannot argue that subjective experiences are not real, for example arguing that our thoughts are not real. Our thoughts (including our perceived possibilities which we consider when deliberating) are very real, perhaps not “grounded” in external reality, but in inner reality, in our minds.

Now a choice may be “real” if we make the choice in our minds (though it is not “real” in the external world outside of our minds). A choice in our minds is not “grounded” in external reality, but is nonetheless just as real as any event occurring in the external world.

“But still, there is an undeniable connection between having and making choices.”


And what exactly is that connection?

If having a choice refers to actual possibilities (what possibilities are actually present in a situation apart from our minds, objectively present) and if making a choice refers to an event in our minds, then what is the connection? You guys seem to both assume and think that we cannot **make** a choice unless we **have** a choice. But I have argued, repeatedly, that we can think of cases where someone makes a choice in their mind, makes a selection in their mind, and yet the perceived possibilities which they considered when they deliberated about the choice did not correspond with reality/did not correspond with the actual possibilities present (are those selections that we do in our minds not real? Is our choice of one perceived possibility rather than another perceived possibility not real, not making a choice? And if that action is not making a choice then what is it?).

And if **that** is possible, then in a completely ED world, a person could make a choice, though in reality they did not have a choice (because they were mistaken in their thoughts about actual possibilities, they thought they could go to any of the three restaurants, those were their perceived possibilities, but in reality they did not have access to all three restaurants, the only actual possibility present was to go to the Mexican restaurant).

“But in saying that you seem to assume that Even if we imagine that we "make" a choice in our minds we must first imagine that we "have" a choice to make.”

Correct, we think our perceived possibilities match the actual reality (the actual possibilities present in the situation) so we assume that we have a choice when making a choice. But and notice carefully, that belief that we have a choice could be wrong with respect to a particular choice.

“So if you own [are?] "making" choices in regards to perception only, then you must own "having" choices with regards to that same perception.”

The idea that you have a choice is a belief, a thought in your mind, as is the idea that this and this and that are available alternatives for you is also a thought.

“If you deny one, then you deny it on the grounds of it's connection with reality, and in doing so the other follows. They must stand or fall together.”

I do not have to deny either the belief that I have a choice or the belief that such and such are available alternatives from which to choose, they could both be together and both be wrong and yet I still make a choice (because making a choice is selecting from among the perceived possibilities). I could be wrong about having a choice (though I believed that I had a choice) and I could be wrong about what alternatives were actually accessible, but I still could make a choice. In my restaurant example, I believed that I had a choice and I also believed that my alternatives were Mexican, Italian, or Barbeque. I made a choice, I chose Mexican, and yet in that situation I was wrong about having the choice between the three (I believed that I had a choice involving the 3) and wrong about the belief that I could select any of the three (I could only go to 1), and wrong about the belief that all three were available (AND YET I MADE A CHOICE)!!!

“If you do not really have a choice than you cannot really make a choice and if you only believe you make choices, then you must also believe you have choices to make.”

Your first line is false, the restaurant example proves it: I did not have a choice regarding those three restaurants and yet I made a choice, I selected one of them.

And in fact when I make a choice I believe that I have a choice (“if you only believe you make choices, then you must also believe you have choices to make”). But I can make a choice and be mistaken in my belief that I had a choice. And that is exactly what would be the case in an ED world (I would repeatedly believe that I had a choice, this belief would always be wrong, because in reality I would never have a choice, and yet I would also repeatedly make choices, I would be in an illusory world where I always made choices believing I had choices when I never had any choices).

“So we cannot make a real choice unless we have a real choice.”

No, here “real choice” according to you is a choice in which we had accessible multiple alternatives, each of which we could actualize. But making a selection from perceived alternatives while deliberating, though you do not have actual alternatives, could occur in and ED world.

And your phrase here is just the same as saying that “we cannot make a choice unless we have a choice.” But isn’t that what we are disagreeing about, to simply declare your view does not make it true.

“If we do not have a real choice then it is nonsense to say we make a real choice, and irrelevant to say we make an unreal (or illusionary) choice (which is really no different than not making a choice at all since the choice isn't real but illusionary- an unreal choice is not a choice).”

You are confused here, I can make a **real** or actual choice though I did not have a choice (again with the restaurant, I did not have a choice, I made an actual/real choice, my choice happened to be the only alternative that was accessible to me). In an ED world the illusory elements are the belief that I have a choice (that is an illusion) the belief that I have access to more than one alternative (that is an illusion), but THE SELECTING OF ONE ALTERNATIVE FROM THE OTHERS IN MY MIND IS NOT ILLUSORY, IT IS IN FACT A REAL CHOICE.

“But as has been demonstrated, even your imagination is predetermined and necessitated in an ED world, so even your "perceived" choice is not a choice, because you can only imagine one way, the predetermined and necessitated way.”

Wrong again, you have not demonstrated that making a choice is not real in an ED world. You like the others, simply assume it. In an ED world you would go through all of the activities that you go through in making a choice in the libertarian sense in a non-ED world (you would consider alternatives, you would perceive certain alternatives in your mind when deliberating, you would believe that you had a choice) and you would make an actual choice/an actual selection from perceived possibilities. The problem is that your belief that you had a choice would always be wrong, your belief that you had access to, multiple alternatives would always be wrong, you would go through all the motions of making choices. And you would in fact make choices.
You said “because you can only imagine one way, the predetermined and necessitated way”. In an ED world your every thought and action would be predetermined, so whatever you took to be your available alternatives would be predetermined, whatever deliberations you experienced, whatever you thought about would be predetermined. You would be a puppet completely controlled by the puppet master (a puppet master that would even give you false beliefs in your mind, giving you the constant belief that you had a choice when you never did, giving you the belief that you could actualize alternative possibilities in various situations with that belief always being wrong, etc. etc. etc. etc.). One of my problems with ED is that imagine what kind of person would do **that** to his creatures? A person like that would not have the character of the God who reveals himself in the bible.

Robert

Robert said...

Arminian,

“Ben makes a good situation [suggestion?] that you seem to be talking about perceived AP'ss/PA's. But perception is not inherent to them.”

I like his suggestion. “perceived alternatives” may be a good term to refer to those thoughts in our minds that we consider when deliberating before we make a choice.

“I had considered the very issue you address Robert. Ben has hit on it with the idea of perception. And I think that Dan actually hit it with speaking of hypotheticals. You should probably talk about perceived alternatives/possibilities or hypothetical possibilities or something.”


I like Ben’s suggestion of “perceived possibilities”, because our thoughts may or may not correspond with reality. But we will in fact choose/make our choices based upon the “perceived possibilities” that we are thinking about in our minds.

“But none of this touches the point Dan, Ben, and myself have made: ED is incompatible with the notion of choosing,”

I continue to disagree with you all on this.

A person in an ED world will go “through the motions”, the same ones that someone goes through when choosing in a non-ED world. They will deliberate, they will make choices, they will select their choice from among their perceived possibilities, etc. It would all happen, except that they would never ever **have** a choice. They would never ever be able to do otherwise than they in fact were predetermined to do. Having choices would be an illusion, the alternative possibilities that you consider when deciding (would not all be available and accessible) and so would be an illusion. But you would be doing actions that you intended to do, that you thought you had freely chosen to do. These actions would involve your beliefs, desires and intentions, and yet everything would be preprogrammed, predetermined, necessitated. You would never ever have a choice, nevertheless you would be making the choices that you were predetermined to make.

Robert

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Robert,

Fair enough. My main concern is that PA’s are normally considered an essential element of making a choice. Granted, if ED was true, people might think they have PA’s, but in reality they don’t.
For the record, I don’t think at a semantic level, it’s a good idea to speak about false beliefs as AP’s.

God be with you,
Dan

Arminian said...

Robert said: "So in order to capture this reality I distinguish: (1) the AP’s that we consider in our minds and in our deliberations (which may or may not correspond with actual reality) FROM (2) the AP’s that are actually present in a given situation."

****Based on the common definitions of "possible" and "possibilities" and "alternatives", your number (1) is invalid. Believing something is possible does not make it possible. Believing something is an alternative or an option does not make it an alternative or an option. If we believe something is an AP in our mind, but it is not actually a possibility, then it is a false belief, an illusion. No one is denying that we can think we had a choice whene we didn't, or thought something was possible and made a choice based on that false belief. But if you thought you were making a choice but could not avoid that course but had to do it, then you were not in fact choosing even though you thought you were, for choosing refers to selecting from AP's/PA's.

Now you are trying to distinguish between AP's and PA's, but basic definitions show your attempt unsuccessful. Just consider the terms. A possibility is something that is possible. So an alternative possibility is by definition an alternative that is possible. And that happens to be the exact same definition of a possible alternative. They are completely the same. So if something is not possible, then it is not an AP or a PA. In fact, an alternative is one of two or more possibilities. Yes, by definition, an alternative is a possibility. The only reason to add "possible" or "possibility" to the word "alternative" is to emphasize the notion of possibility. We do that because we are dealing with ED, which makes everything impossible but one course that has been predetermined. As Dan so aptly said, "alternatives always come in pairs" (though it would be more accurate to say that alternatives always come in at least pairs [i.e., there are always more than one, so always at least a pair, though can be many more than a pair]. So if there is only one possible course, one possibility, then there is no alternative, and therefore one cannot selct from PA's or AP's.

You make a big deal of selecting from what Ben has rightly called perceived alternatives. But whether your position could be legitimate for an LFW world (I htink it is not as spelled out in a previous post), it is definitely wrong for an ED world. For in a Calvinistic ED world, those things perecived as alternatives by us are not selected from in reality. We might think we are selecting from them, but in reality we are not, because there is only one course we can possibly enact, for God has irresistibly decreed us to take that course. So we might think we are selecting from alternatives, but we are actually only enacting what God has chosen to take place (scarily, some C's actually think God does not have LFW, so that would mean even he can't choose!). So we do not choose, but God makes the choices and we enact his choice. But this flatly contradicts the Bible, which clearly shows people having choices and choosing.

Robert said: "Now a choice may be “real” if we make the choice in our minds (though it is not “real” in the external world outside of our minds). A choice in our minds is not “grounded” in external reality, but is nonetheless just as real as any event occurring in the external world."

****I think you are confusing the issue. Thinking we make a choice in our mind does not make the choice real, just as thiunking anything in our mind does not necessarily make that thing real (i.e., thinking I can fly by flapping my arms does not make me able to fly). What is real is that I think that I am making a choice. Do you see the difference? Our thoughts are real. They are rela in that we really think them. But the substance of them may or may not be real. I think I am typing this response to you. That thought corresponds to reality; that is in fact what I am doing. But if I think I can fly by flapping my arms, that does not correspond to reality, and so the substance of my thought is not real. But it would still be real that I thought that. I could really think that. It is the same with choosing. In an ED world, I would think I am making choices, but I would not really be making choices, for choosing is selecting from alternative possibilities / possible alternatives. But it would still really be true that I would think I am making choices.

Robert said: "are those selections that we do in our minds not real?"

****Not if they are the enacting of something we must do and cannot avoid doing. For then they would not be selecting, which is to choose from alternatives. It would be real that they think they are selecting from alternatives. But since there would not in fact be any alternatives, which always come in at least pairs, then they would not in fact be selecting/choosing.

Robert said: "Is our choice of one perceived possibility rather than another perceived possibility not real, not making a choice? And if that action is not making a choice then what is it?)."

****It is not really making a choice if the perceived possibilities are incorrectly perceived and there is in fact only one possibility. For choosing is selecting from alternative possibilities. Therefore it is not making a choice. You ask, then what is it. That's simple. It is simply doing something. It is enacting a course of action. You coudl even say it is enacting the choice God has made. But mark this well: the fact that it might be difficult to come up with a description of it does not weigh in the least against it not really being a choice. Rather, it points up the incoherence of ED, that it is irreconcilable wit hthe very notion of choosing. That is why the very notion of choice, something undeniable from experience and the Bible, destroys Calvinism and ED.

Robert said...

Hi Dan,

“Fair enough.”

What does **that** mean? Do you now grant that one could engage in the intentional action of making a choice though in reality one did not have a choice (for example in an ED world)?

“My main concern is that PA’s are normally considered an essential element of making a choice.”

Where PA’s come in is that when deliberating about what choice we will make, we assume that the alternatives we are considering as possible alternatives, are alternatives that we can choose to actualize (thus we assume when making a choice that we have a choice). They are an essential element **in our deliberations** because we assume they are real and available **in our deliberations**. If we did not believe them to be accessible (something we could choose and then do), then we would not include them in our deliberations in regards to a specific choice we are making.

Let me make a simple but important point here. I am arguing that even in and ED world; one could still make a choice while simultaneously not having a choice. I argue this due to the nature of what having a choice and making a choice are.

Nevertheless, since **in fact** we live in a world which God has created (in which we do in fact have free will as ordinarily understood). One of the reasons why free will in the libertarian sense is so widely held across all cultures and throughout history is because people have in fact often experienced having and making choices. And **usually** when you make a choice you in fact had a choice. USUALLY WHEN YOU MAKE A CHOICE YOU HAD A CHOICE. The vast majority of the time the two (having and making choices) are always together. This experience is so ubiquitous that we take it for granted, we don’t usually think much about it unless challenged by someone promoting and arguing for necessitarian beliefs. In other words intentional actions involving free will (having and making choices)are so common, so integral to our daily experience, that we just assume that when we make an intentional choice we had a choice as well. And the fact is, that **most of the time**, it is in fact true that if I make a choice I had a choice.

Now we can think of examples where we thought when we made a choice that we had a choice and we were mistaken (my 3 restaurant example), but these ARE THE EXCEPTIONS, not the rule. And even in the case of my 3 restaurant example, say I encountered and found out (before going to the restaurant) that two of the 3 original options were no longer accessible. I would do what most of us then do: I would generate more options that are accessible (so to the Mexican option I might add Japanese or Chinese). And so again I would be having a choice when I make a choice.

“Granted, if ED was true, people might think they have PA’s, but in reality they don’t.”

This is important and hopefully has come out crystal clear in our discussion here. If ED were true, then people might believe they have a choice when they make a choice but they would **always** be wrong. I want people to see this clearly, because if they do, they will see things including: (1) ED necessitates that we never have a choice, (2) we do not have free will as ordinarily understood, (3) that our most common and ubiquitous experiences are disconnected from reality, (4) that God desires for us to be wrong on this issue, (5) that God speaks in scripture as if our ordinary understanding of free will is true (God speaks in the bible [as do others] as if we do in fact have choices when we make choices [recall the story that JC brought up and the prophet of God saying “you should have . . .”, well “should haves” make no sense if our actions are predetermined and it is impossible for us to do otherwise then we end up doing], (6) so if God knows that in fact everything is predetermined and fixed, and He knows we do not have free will as ordinarily understood, then God is intentionally misleading and deceiving us throughout scripture when He and others speak with the ordinary understanding of free will and having and making choices), (7)that ED suggests a universal negative (i.e. that we never ever have a choice) which is refuted by any evidence of someone ever having a choice, etc.. Now all of these things count strongly against the necessitarian beliefs and I want people to clearly see this.

I am confident that the evidence in favor of us both making and having choices is utterly overwhelming, so we want the logical implications of necessitarian beliefs out in the open where they will get blasted and destroyed. As long as the necessitarian holds to ED and hides the implications with semantic games like compatibilism (speaking of free will when your every act is predetermined and it is impossible for you to do otherwise) and proof texting (taking single verses that are then trumpeted as affirming ED), people won’t see through the charade, and the necessitarian can hide what he really believes from people. It’s like the necessitarian has all of these dirty little secrets (such as reprobation and what it says about God’s character) and I want them out in the open, exposed to the light, where they can be seen for what they are, and then rejected as the false beliefs which they are.

“For the record, I don’t think at a semantic level, it’s a good idea to speak about false beliefs as AP’s.”

Why don’t we go with Ben’s suggestion of calling the beliefs we hold and consider when deliberating about what we can possibly choose to do: “perceived possibilities”. I appreciate Ben’s term, “perceived possibilities”. Perceived possibilities are what you believe to be the case in a given situation regarding what choices you can make, but they may or may not be the case (and we can then check to see if your perceived possibilities correspond with the possible alternatives in the situation: if they are accurate then in fact you have those alternatives as possible choices in that specific situation, if they are not accurate then one or more of the alternatives are not choices available to you in that situation: do they correspond with the way things really were/are when you made/make your choice or not??).

The “perceived possibilities” phrase is also helpful in discussing exactly how and why you might believe that you had a choice and so made a choice in an ED world (you believed that you had a choice, believed that your PA’s corresponded to reality when in fact they did not, you thought you had a choice but you never did).

In this world, when we make a choice, we do so believing that we had a choice. If this is not an ED world, the evidence for this belief is widespread (seen even with necessatarians): if this world is an ED world and the necessatarians are correct about it being an ED world, we still find this belief (that when we make a choice we have a choice) just as widespread, so either way, when making a choice we have this belief in our mind. If we are right then this belief is usually correct, if the necessatarians are right then this belief is always wrong.

Again, in our world, the actual world we find ourselves, most often (with very few exceptions) when we make a choice we did in fact have a choice. So for the most part our “perceived possibilities” are pretty accurate in **this** world (because they correspond to **possible alternatives** which really are there, really are doable, really are accessible, if we choose to actualize them and are not prevented from doing so).

Robert

Robert said...

Arminian continues to argue that we cannot make a choice unless we have a choice.

“Believing something is possible does not make it possible.”

I find it hard to believe that you can make this statement and not see that if you grant this, then you open the door to the possibility that we may believe something is possible in our deliberations and then make a choice believing we had a choice, when we did not have a choice.

A person in an ED world believes they can do X, Y, and Z and so deliberates about which of these three they will select/choose. They believe it is possible for them to do all three, but in reality (say X, Y, are not possible for them to do). And say they in fact select, MAKE THE CHOICE of Z (which in and ED world is the only possibility actually available to them). If this occurs, then they MADE A CHOICE (if we take “choice” to mean that they selected one of these three options which they believed they could select from). But at the same time, if X and Y were not accessible to them, if those were not “live options” for them, then they DID NOT HAVE A CHOICE. This is true because in order to HAVE A CHOICE, you need access to at least two alternatives (the following combinations would mean that they had a choice; X or Y or Z; X or Y, X or Z, Y or Z). But if you had access to only Z, and not any of the others you would not have a choice. In an ED world you could believe that these various combinations are accessible to you, but in fact you would only have access to one of these options (so you would not ever have a choice even when you make choices).

“No one is denying that we can think we had a choice when we didn't, or thought something was possible and made a choice based on that false belief.”

Let’s unpack this a bit. First line: “No one is denying that we can think we had a choice when we didn’t”

If we thought we HAD a choice, but DID NOT, what would this mean? We thought X, Y and Z were available and accessible, but they were not (only one would be accessible if we had no choice). But we thought mistakenly that we HAD a choice when we did not. That is getting very close to admitting that we could make a choice while not having a choice, because in order for you to make the mistake of thinking you had a choice but did not have a choice, wouldn’t that be in the context of you having made a choice? Why else would you be telling yourself that you had mistakenly believed you had a choice when you did not have a choice, unless it related to some choice THAT YOU HAD MADE.

Second line: “or thought something was possible and made a choice based on that false belief.”

Now Arminian gives away the farm! If I think that something is possible (say going to the Italian or Barbeque or Mexican restaurants) and NOTE ARMINIANS ACTUAL WORDS: *******made a choice*****. Did what???? It bears repeating: “MADE A CHOICE”. Arminian unwittingly affirms the validity of my 3 restaurant illustration. You see if I thought I could go to the Italian restaurant or the Mexican restaurant or the Barbeque restaurant (but was mistaken about these 3 possibilities because the Italian restaurant was closed for remodeling and the Barbeque restaurant was closed to the public because of a private party) I would be mistaken about what was possible (“thought something was possible” so my belief would be a “false belief”) and if I then **made a choice** based upon this false belief (“made a choice based on that false belief”) WOULDN’T I BE MAKING A CHOICE WITHOUT HAVING A CHOICE????????

Arminian admits that we know that we could MAKE A CHOICE BASED UPON A FALSE BELIEF, but in an ED world where we believed that we had a choice and then made a choice, isn’t this EXACTLY what would be happening? We would be making a choice based upon a false belief (we thought the other restaurant alternatives were available but they were not, so our belief was mistaken). And this is the punchline, the bottomline, Arminian ***himself*** calls it MAKING A CHOICE.

“But if you thought you were making a choice but could not avoid that course but had to do it, then you were not in fact choosing even though you thought you were, for choosing refers to selecting from AP's/PA's.”

Now Arminian adds a caveat, you thought you were making a choice, but if your action was unavoidable then you “were not in fact choosing even though you thought you were.” Wait a minute. Arminian is confused and mistaken here.

Beliefs to be true, must correspond with reality. If it does not then the belief is false. But intentional actions are different. With actions there are not “true” actions and “false” actions. Rather, you either do the action or you do not do the action. Making a choice is an action it is not a belief. So with regard to a choice you either do it or you do not do it. There is no such thing as believing falsely that you did an action if you did the action.

Notice Arminian is saying that you could be making a choice and then falsely believe that you made a choice. No, you either make that choice or you do not. This is a category mistake on the part of Arminian.

Do we define making a choice as: a selection that you make which you could have avoided? Don’t we simply define making a choice as: an action of selecting from among alternatives? He now claims that if your selection was unavoidable you were not really selecting. Now why come up with a modification like this? Because it insulates his view from the possibility of people making choices in an ED world. In an ED world all of your actions are necessitated, you have to do what you end up doing, none of your actions is avoidable. So by crafting the definition of “making a choice” to selecting when your selection could be avoided you make choosing an impossibility in and ED world (truth by definition).

But this has been Arminian’s standard technique to support his argument: define things in such a way that your point must be true. We agree about what we mean by having a choice. Now the disagreement is about what it means to make a choice. Arminian now defines making a choice as selecting from alternatives when your selection can be avoided/when you don’t have to do it/when you could do otherwise. But notice what he is again doing: he inserts the very point of contention, he begs the question (if we define making a choice in such a way that making a choice cannot occur in an ED world, then so be it, making a choice cannot occur in an ED world). We could describe his thinking this way: if we have to do it, if our action is necessitated and so unavoidable then it cannot be making a choice. Well guess what? In an ED world, you would have to do everything that you do, your every action would be necessitated, your every action would be unavoidable, so then according to this definition you would not ever be making a choice in an Ed world.

“Yes, by definition, an alternative is a possibility.”

Now is where Ben’s phrase of “perceived possibilities” comes in. When we deliberate we consider alternatives that we believe are accessible (what Ben has called “perceived possibilities”). Now our perceived possibilities may or may not correspond with the actual possibilities that are present in a specific situation.

If we assume that every alternative that we consider in our minds is an actual alternative then our belief about what is possible in any given situation could never be wrong. But in fact sometimes it is wrong, so there can be a disconnect or lack of correspondence between what we think we can do and what we actually can do in a situation.

“As Dan so aptly said, "alternatives always come in pairs" (though it would be more accurate to say that alternatives always come in at least pairs [i.e., there are always more than one, so always at least a pair, though can be many more than a pair].”

Yes, I use the term “binary pair” myself (meaning that choices usually involve two different possibilities, two different “poles” of the “binary pair”).

“So if there is only one possible course, one possibility, then there is no alternative, and therefore one cannot select from PA's or AP's.”

You were going good until you got here. Now you simply reassert your view: we make a choice only when we have a choice. We make a choice only when we select from PA’s or AP’s (with PA’s or AP’s being multiple alternatives that we have access to, i.e, we have a choice, assuming what is being contended, begging the question yet again). It should be noted that whenever we make a choice, we have to be selecting from an existing possibility (Possible alternative), if there were no possibility available to us then we couldn’t’ even make a choice (there would be nothing to select nothing that we could even do). And whatever we select had to be a possible alternative or we couldn’t even have selected **that** alternative. So whenever we make a choice we access a possible alternative.


When we deliberate and make our choice, we are not selecting from among PA’s or AP’s in our mind, we are selecting from what we take to be, what we believe to be the available alternatives [we are to use Ben’s great phrase: selecting from our “perceived possibilities”].

A simple way to show this is to show that our perceived possibilities do not match PA’s in any given situation. In most situations we are aware of much fewer alternatives then are actually present in a situation. Back to the restaurant example. I speak of 3 restaurants, but in our area there are a lot more than 3 from which to choose. Plus we are finite and limited beings so we will not consider all of the PA’s in a situation before we make our choice. So we know numerically our perceived possibilities do not match the PA’s that are actually present. But there is also this larger issue, call it circumstances beyond our control. We encounter these all the time. You think you are going to travel down road X and when you get there it is closed for street repair and you can’t take that street as you had planned. We all know this and have experienced this. So what do we do when making our decisions? We limit the information, limit the options.

Do our perceived possibilities correspond with PA’s exactly? For Arminian to be correct they would have to, because he believes we can only choose if we have a choice, but to have a choice we always need access to at least two different alternative possibilities. But on occasion, as with the 3 restaurants, our perceived possibilities does not match the PA’s. And in such a situation if only one possibility matches our perceived possibilities and we choose that one, then I say we made a choice, though we did not have a choice.

“You make a big deal of selecting from what Ben has rightly called perceived alternatives. But whether your position could be legitimate for an LFW world (I think it is not as spelled out in a previous post), it is definitely wrong for an ED world.”

I have thoughts in my mind about what possibilities there are that I could choose from (these are what Ben calls “perceived possibilities”). These thoughts are absolutely real for me though completely private and unseen by other human persons or angelic beings. So I have these alternatives in my mind and think about them, considering them individually, collectively, this is deliberation. AT some point in time, I perform the MENTAL ACTION of selecting one of these alternatives in my mind (this is what I have called previously ontological freedom). That mental action, like the thoughts that I thinking about is real. I either make a particular selection or I do not, either way that mental action is real. It is not me thinking about an action, a selection is itself a mental action that we do. Now I submit that this world is a non-ED world. But if it were an ED world it seems reasonable to me that I would go through the same process as described here in that world. Same process of deliberating about thoughts in my mind, same mental action of selecting one of the alternatives, with the mental action thereby constituting the MAKING OF A CHOICE. All of this is obvious to me to be the way things are when we deliberate and make a choice.

“(scarily, some C's actually think God does not have LFW, so that would mean even he can't choose!)”

Lately what I have seen is that the necessitarian is so committed to his view and so against LFW that rather than admitting that God experiences the having and making of choices (LFW) they will argue that God’s actions are not necessitated nor are they LFW they are something so different as to be neither and unique. Well that is a nice ad hoc adjustment to ensure that God does not have LFW. But this adjustment is so self-serving and so contrived that it is obvious they are looking for **anything** to possibly get around God having LFW. In this way they are not denying that God has LFW, just insulating their belief from being refuted (cf. like the guy who says there are pink unicorns on some far distant planet, a planet that just happens to be so far away that we can neither confirm nor disconfirm this claim).

“But this flatly contradicts the Bible, which clearly shows people having choices and choosing.”

I need to say something here regarding necessatarians contradicting the bible. The necessitarian will boastfully challenge with something like: well if LFW is in the bible then show me the verse! And this is similar to someone challenging with: well if the Trinity is in the bible then show me the verse where you see the word Trinity! With the trinity you will not find the word trinity in the bible but you will find verses that when properly interpreted yield the concepts that there is only one God, that the Father, Son, and Spirit are all God, that these three are distinct persons (so from this you rightfully conclude that one God exists in three persons). Similarly if you look in the bible for the phrase “libertarian free will” you won’t find the phrase. But you will find bible verses that when properly interpreted suggest the reality of us having and making choices. And this is important because not only is there lots of this kind of evidence in the bible, there is also lots of evidence from our own daily experience of having and making choices. Now here is the kicker. The necessitarian claim that God has predetermined every event is a universal negative claim (since all is determined we can never do otherwise than we do, being able to do otherwise is having a choice, so ED leads to the necessary conclusion, the universal negative that WE NEVER EVER HAVE CHOICES). And how does one refute a universal negative? With any amount of counter evidence. And in the case of the claim that we never ever have a choice, the evidence against this claim will include the evidence from both scripture and daily life of people having and making choices. Frankly, this is overwhelming evidence against the necessatarians claim (like hitting an ant with a nuclear bomb!). Want to refute calvinism that holds to ED, all you need is to provide evidence against the claim that we never ever have choices.

Now we come to a crucial section where Arminian makes a category mistake and this explains a lot of the confusion:

“****I think you are confusing the issue. Thinking we make a choice in our mind does not make the choice real,”

We don’t “think that we are making a choice in our mind”, WE EITHER PERFORM THE MENTAL ACTION OF CHOOSING OR WE DO NOT. While we deliberate we may think about which choice to make, but when we actually do the mental action of choosing one alternative rather than others (that is not thinking about doing the mental action of choosing, that is DOING THE MENTAL ACTION OF CHOOSING). A CHOICE IS REAL IF WE DID IT. If we make the choice it is a real mental action. If we do not make the choice then it is not a mental action (though sometimes in refraining from doing something if this is the choice this is also a real mental action).

“just as thinking anything in our mind does not necessarily make that thing real (i.e., thinking I can fly by flapping my arms does not make me able to fly).”

There is a difference between thinking about doing something and actually doing it (when we are deliberating we are thinking about what choice we will make; when we make the choice we are actually doing it).

“What is real is that I think that I am making a choice. Do you see the difference?”

No, do you see the difference? A choice is real if I do the mental action of choosing. Thinking about making a choice is not the same as making a choice. And if I make the choice then it is real.

“Our thoughts are real. They are real in that we really think them.”

Yes, and a mental action of choosing is real as well, they are real WHEN WE MAKE A CHOICE AND SO ARE DOING THEM!!!

“But the substance of them may or may not be real. I think I am typing this response to you. That thought corresponds to reality; that is in fact what I am doing.”

With intentional actions we are doing them or we are not doing them. With beliefs they either correspond to reality or they do not. Beliefs and actions are not the same category and Arminian is confusing them.

“But if I think I can fly by flapping my arms, that does not correspond to reality, and so the substance of my thought is not real.”

Right, the belief does not correspond to reality and so is false.

“But it would still be real that I thought that. I could really think that.”

Correct.

“It is the same with choosing. In an ED world, I would think I am making choices, but I would not really be making choices, for choosing is selecting from alternative possibilities / possible alternatives. But it would still really be true that I would think I am making choices.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. While a belief has to correspond to reality to be true, an action is real if and only if is done. In an ED world if I do the mental action of choosing in my mind, then in fact, in reality, I AM MAKING A CHOICE.

And note that for the zillionth time Arminian begs the question again with the words “but I would not really be making choices, for choosing is selecting from alternative possibilities / possible alternatives” which is yet again assuming the very thing to be proved. He states again that we are not **really** making a choice UNLESS WE HAVE A CHOICE. No, we make a choice if we do that mental action of selecting, in our minds. That mental action of selecting one alternative from among a set of alternatives that we are considering (deliberating about) in our minds.

“****Not if they are the enacting of something we must do and cannot avoid doing. For then they would not be selecting, which is to choose from alternatives.”

So it **is** only a selection if it is avoidable (if the selection is unavoidable then it is not a real selection, not making a choice). Well let’s take his idea and make another distinction here based on his thinking between (1) non-necessitated selections where you make a selection but it was avoidable you did not have to do it (choices where you do have a choice while you make a choice), you could have done otherwise; versus (2) necessitated selections where you make a selection but it was not avoidable you had to do it, you could not have done otherwise (choices where you do not have a choice while you make a choice).

Now note what is the common denominator in both (1) and (2)? Both involve doing the mental action of selecting from alternatives. Now I submit that the most simple meaning, the common meaning of making a choice is “selecting from alternatives”. It is Arminian who has to add qualifiers to the simple meaning of making a choice/selecting from alternatives, not me. :-)

“It would be real that they think they are selecting from alternatives. But since there would not in fact be any alternatives, which always come in at least pairs, then they would not in fact be selecting/choosing.”

So in an ED world they would experience “necessitated selections” rather than “non-necessitated selections”?

“****It is not really making a choice if the perceived possibilities are incorrectly perceived and there is in fact only one possibility. For choosing is selecting from alternative possibilities.”

Again, he assumes you cannot make a selection unless you have a choice. Didn’t Arminian admit earlier that we can be mistaken about what we believe when we make a selection?

“Therefore it is not making a choice.”

Only if you define making a choice as a non-necessitated selection.

“You ask, then what is it. That's simple. It is simply doing something. It is enacting a course of action.”

I had suggested that you could make a choice in an ED world and Arminian responds that it would not be making a choice, “It is simply doing something.” Arminian has already made a category mistake between beliefs and actions, now he will simply redefine the reality away with words. Instead of admitting that doing the mental action of selecting one alternative from others in your mind **is** MAKING A CHOICE, we are now told that, “It is simply doing something”. Well of course doing the mental action of choosing is “doing something”. Now we are engaging in semantics to evade the truth. While I have been making distinctions in order to explain and think through things carefully and even had Ben suggest that it seemed like playing semantic word games (why isn’t Ben saying the same thing about what Arminian is doing here?).

“But mark this well: the fact that it might be difficult to come up with a description of it does not weigh in the least against it not really being a choice.”

Difficult to come up with a description of it? No, whether you are in a non-ED world or a ED world, in either case, making a choice is selecting from alternatives in your mind.

“Rather, it points up the incoherence of ED, that it is irreconcilable with the very notion of choosing.”

No, the determinist can speak about making choices in an ED world, he/she just cannot talk coherently about having choices in an ED world, he/she can’t talk coherently about doing otherwise in an ED world.

“That is why the very notion of choice, something undeniable from experience and the Bible, destroys Calvinism and ED.”

No, the notion of HAVING a choice, something undeniable from experience and the Bible, destroys calvinism and ED. And that is one of my concerns with the mistake Arminian is making. If he argues that in ED that we both cannot have choices and cannot make choices, he is going to get shot down by a lot of people. You don’t have to go that far to refute calvinism. You need only show evidence of us having choices to do so. The necessitarian will grant that we make choices, what he won’t allow is that we ever have choices. If you can demonstrate that anyone **ever** has a choice, you refute ED which entails that no one ever has a choice (not that no one ever makes a choice).

Robert

Arminian said...

Robert said: "I find it hard to believe that you can make this statement and not see that if you grant this, then you open the door to the possibility that we may believe something is possible in our deliberations and then make a choice believing we had a choice, when we did not have a choice."

****I find it hard to believe that you completely miss the definitional issue, which completely renders your view and these comments above invalid. Your statement misses does not take account of ED. Even with respect to an LFW context, you miss detailed comments I made about this issue in a former post, a very lengthy post that you never even touched. But I truly do not want to get into whether our view works for an LFW situation, because that is irrelevant. Our main claim has been that ED is incompatible with choosing.

Robert said: "A person in an ED world believes they can do X, Y, and Z and so deliberates about which of these three they will select/choose. They believe it is possible for them to do all three, but in reality (say X, Y, are not possible for them to do). And say they in fact select, MAKE THE CHOICE of Z (which in and ED world is the only possibility actually available to them)."

****Right here you invalidate your own comments, for if only one thing is possible, if there is only one possibility, then by definition the person does not choose. He might thinks he is choosing, but he is in fact not choosing, for choosing refers to selecting from alternative possibilities / possible alternatives. When there is only one possibility, there can be no choocing from alternative possibilities.

Robert said: "If this occurs, then they MADE A CHOICE (if we take “choice” to mean that they selected one of these three options which they believed they could select from).

****But that is an invbalid definition of choice. What one believes is irrelevant to what is actually taking place. Almost no one dfines choice in that way. Your definition is idiosyncratic and so unfit for understanding what people normally mean by choice. Again, we may be at an impasse. If you insist on defnining choice in the highly unusual way, we will just have to accept that we have different basic definitions.

Robert said: "But at the same time, if X and Y were not accessible to them, if those were not “live options” for them, then they DID NOT HAVE A CHOICE. This is true because in order to HAVE A CHOICE, you need access to at least two alternatives (the following combinations would mean that they had a choice; X or Y or Z; X or Y, X or Z, Y or Z)."

****It is just true that to make a choice one must have access to at least two alternatives.

Robert said: "But if you had access to only Z, and not any of the others you would not have a choice. In an ED world you could believe that these various combinations are accessible to you, but in fact you would only have access to one of these options (so you would not ever have a choice even when you make choices)."

****But you would not be making a choice, since you would not be selecting from alternative possibilities / possible alternatives.

Robert said: “No one is denying that we can think we had a choice when we didn't, or thought something was possible and made a choice based on that false belief.”

Let’s unpack this a bit. First line: “No one is denying that we can think we had a choice when we didn’t”

If we thought we HAD a choice, but DID NOT, what would this mean? We thought X, Y and Z were available and accessible, but they were not (only one would be accessible if we had no choice). But we thought mistakenly that we HAD a choice when we did not. That is getting very close to admitting that we could make a choice while not having a choice, because in order for you to make the mistake of thinking you had a choice but did not have a choice, wouldn’t that be in the context of you having made a choice?"

****No, for making a choice is to select from AP's/PA's. Therefore it would be in the context of performing an action. Choosing would not be present in any shape or form. it could not be by definition (the normal definition that almost all people use IMO; we probably cannot actually porve that one way or another, except that the dictionary, which is an authoritative reference work on how most people use words, backs me up (see Dan's post on defining choice: http://www.arminianchronicles.com/2009/01/defining-choice-response-to-paul-manata.html), as do Dan and Ben. Are we all wrong, me, Dan, Ben, the dictionary?

Robert said: "Why else would you be telling yourself that you had mistakenly believed you had a choice when you did not have a choice, unless it related to some choice THAT YOU HAD MADE."

****Just think about this. If you thought had a choice but were mistaken about it, then might it not be that you thought you chose when you didn't? If you had only one possible course, then it relates to something you did, not to something you chose, and your mistken belief that you had a choice leads you to the mistaken belief that you choce.

Robert said: "Second line: “or thought something was possible and made a choice based on that false belief.”

Now Arminian gives away the farm! If I think that something is possible (say going to the Italian or Barbeque or Mexican restaurants) and NOTE ARMINIANS ACTUAL WORDS: *******made a choice*****. Did what???? It bears repeating: “MADE A CHOICE”. Arminian unwittingly affirms the validity of my 3 restaurant illustration. You see if I thought I could go to the Italian restaurant or the Mexican restaurant or the Barbeque restaurant (but was mistaken about these 3 possibilities because the Italian restaurant was closed for remodeling and the Barbeque restaurant was closed to the public because of a private party) I would be mistaken about what was possible (“thought something was possible” so my belief would be a “false belief”) and if I then **made a choice** based upon this false belief (“made a choice based on that false belief”) WOULDN’T I BE MAKING A CHOICE WITHOUT HAVING A CHOICE???????? "

****Here you jump the gun and ignore the context of what I said. You acknowledge below that there was more to it. But here you act as if I did not qualify what I said. And the qualification is crucial. But even without the qualification, your comments read too much in to what I said. I dsid not say that the choice made was one in which there was only one possibility. I said that someone can make a choice based on a false belief. For example, one could have thought he had 90 options when he only really had 50. That does not mean he had only one possibility and therefore no option. And I have answred that exact type of illsutration in that same earlier post you never interacted with. But no matter. The illustration assumes LFW, and so it is irrelevant to twhat we are talking about.

Robert said: "Arminian admits that we know that we could MAKE A CHOICE BASED UPON A FALSE BELIEF, but in an ED world where we believed that we had a choice and then made a choice, isn’t this EXACTLY what would be happening?

****No, because choosing is selecting from AP's/PA's. In an ED world, we would believe we had a choice when we didn't, and we would think we were choosing something when weren't; rather, we would have only one possible thing we could do and could not avoid doing it. That's not choosing no matter how much we think we are choosing.

Robert said: "We would be making a choice based upon a false belief (we thought the other restaurant alternatives were available but they were not, so our belief was mistaken). And this is the punchline, the bottomline, Arminian ***himself*** calls it MAKING A CHOICE."

****Completely false. See my comments above. You have mischaracterized my statements.

Robert said: "Now Arminian adds a caveat, you thought you were making a choice, but if your action was unavoidable then you “were not in fact choosing even though you thought you were.” Wait a minute. Arminian is confused and mistaken here.

Beliefs to be true, must correspond with reality. If it does not then the belief is false. But intentional actions are different. With actions there are not “true” actions and “false” actions. Rather, you either do the action or you do not do the action. Making a choice is an action it is not a belief. So with regard to a choice you either do it or you do not do it. There is no such thing as believing falsely that you did an action if you did the action."

****This is so very easily disproven. Say you believe you are flying when in fact you are walking. Your belief is false, and you are not doing the action you think you are. In an ED world, everyone thinks they choose when in fact they do not choose, for choosing is to select from alternative possiblities / possible alternatives. The ironic thing is that in C ED, God would make this common definition of "choose", and make everyone think they choosewhen in fact they do not. Crazy!

Robert said: "Notice Arminian is saying that you could be making a choice and then falsely believe that you made a choice. No, you either make that choice or you do not. This is a category mistake on the part of Arminian.

****Categorically disproven above.

Robert said: "Do we define making a choice as: a selection that you make which you could have avoided? Don’t we simply define making a choice as: an action of selecting from among alternatives? He now claims that if your selection was unavoidable you were not really selecting. Now why come up with a modification like this?"

****Because if one only has one possible course, then he has no alternatives, since alternatives by defnition are possibilities, and remember they always come in at least pairs. Selecting from alternatives necessitates that one can take either of at least two courses. This is utterly basic and obvious. It is logically required by the defnition of the terms, the very defijnition you gave as a matter of fact.

Robert said: "Because it insulates his view from the possibility of people making choices in an ED world.

****No, because of what I just said. But it is true that it shows that ED is incompatible with choosing.

Robert said: "In an ED world all of your actions are necessitated, you have to do what you end up doing, none of your actions is avoidable. So by crafting the definition of “making a choice” to selecting when your selection could be avoided you make choosing an impossibility in and ED world (truth by definition).

But this has been Arminian’s standard technique to support his argument: define things in such a way that your point must be true."

****That is truly ironic. I am the one using the normal definition of words, and you have been giving a highly unusual defnition. It just so happens tha tthe basic and common defnitions of the terms involved proves my point. it is grewat to be able to prove ones view by simply pointing to the normal defnition of words. What I have said so far nullifies youe next paragraph; it's just expanding on the same erroneous point, so I'll skip it.

I said: “So if there is only one possible course, one possibility, then there is no alternative, and therefore one cannot select from PA's or AP's.”

Robert said: "You were going good until you got here. Now you simply reassert your view: we make a choice only when we have a choice. We make a choice only when we select from PA’s or AP’s (with PA’s or AP’s being multiple alternatives that we have access to, i.e, we have a choice, assuming what is being contended, begging the question yet again)."

****It is amazing that you can say this after admitting that alternatives always come in at least pairs/, which you also admit are two possibilities. The logic follows necessarily. If you admit alternatives are possibilities that always come in at least pairs--and you have admitted this--, then as I said, if there is only one course of action, there there is no alternative, and therefore one cannot select from PA's or AP's.

Robert said: "Do our perceived possibilities correspond with PA’s exactly? For Arminian to be correct they would have to, because he believes we can only choose if we have a choice, but to have a choice we always need access to at least two different alternative possibilities. But on occasion, as with the 3 restaurants, our perceived possibilities does not match the PA’s. And in such a situation if only one possibility matches our perceived possibilities and we choose that one, then I say we made a choice, though we did not have a choice."

****Again, you asume LFW here, so it is invalid for ED. And again, I addressed ehwy this argument fails for even assuming LFW, and you ignored it. But yet again, I do not want to follow that up since ED and choice is really the issue of concern.

“You make a big deal of selecting from what Ben has rightly called perceived alternatives. But whether your position could be legitimate for an LFW world (I think it is not as spelled out in a previous post), it is definitely wrong for an ED world.”

Robert said: "I have thoughts in my mind about what possibilities there are that I could choose from (these are what Ben calls “perceived possibilities”). These thoughts are absolutely real for me though completely private and unseen by other human persons or angelic beings. So I have these alternatives in my mind and think about them, considering them individually, collectively, this is deliberation. AT some point in time, I perform the MENTAL ACTION of selecting one of these alternatives in my mind (this is what I have called previously ontological freedom)."

****In an ED world, you never perform the mental action of selecting one of the alternatives, for there are none. You only do what you are predetermined to do. You are a (sophisticated) puppet. Do puppets make choices? No; they do what their controllers cause them to do irresistibly.

Robert said: "That mental action, like the thoughts that I thinking about is real. I either make a particular selection or I do not, either way that mental action is real. It is not me thinking about an action, a selection is itself a mental action that we do. Now I submit that this world is a non-ED world. But if it were an ED world it seems reasonable to me that I would go through the same process as described here in that world. Same process of deliberating about thoughts in my mind, same mental action of selecting one of the alternatives, with the mental action thereby constituting the MAKING OF A CHOICE. All of this is obvious to me to be the way things are when we deliberate and make a choice."

****How could it be the same process, since with LFW we the whole process is free ,and in ED we only think what we are caused to think, and in every aspect, it is caused irresitibly by God so that we only think what he decress we think. That is not true deliberation, God making you think this, then that, then that, then undetaking of an action.


Robert said: "Now we come to a crucial section where Arminian makes a category mistake and this explains a lot of the confusion:"

****I have already answered this above to the same charge. So I'll skip this; remember, what I said above totally refuted your charge.

Robert said: "There is a difference between thinking about doing something and actually doing it (when we are deliberating we are thinking about what choice we will make; when we make the choice we are actually doing it)."

****Again, I answered this above, but I might as well show how easily it is shown false for good measure. My statement could just be changed from thinking I can fly to thinking I am flying when in fact I am doing something else.

Robert said: "No, do you see the difference? A choice is real if I do the mental action of choosing. Thinking about making a choice is not the same as making a choice. And if I make the choice then it is real."

****But the whole question is what choosing really is, though the definition should not really be in doubt as mine if the normal definition and at times you have admitted to it. Anyway, ou are thoe one who keeps insiting that believing you have a choice when you don't have one c an lead to choosing with out having a choice. Your elief is irrelevant to whetjer you are reallty cjoosing. WEhat matters according to the defijition choosing is whether you have altrernatives.

Robert said: Yes, and a mental action of choosing is real as well, they are real WHEN WE MAKE A CHOICE AND SO ARE DOING THEM!!!

****I could have mentioned this earlier, but you are here begging the question. As I just said, the question is what choosing is. You can't just say someone chooses, so therefore they choose, especially when you are completely contradicting the definition of choose, which requires possible alternatives / alternative possibilities.

Robert said: "With intentional actions we are doing them or we are not doing them. With beliefs they either correspond to reality or they do not. Beliefs and actions are not the same category and Arminian is confusing them."

***You are the one who keeps bringing up our beliefs. This is really strange. I was merely responding to your comments about beliefs and their great importance to your view.

“It is the same with choosing. In an ED world, I would think I am making choices, but I would not really be making choices, for choosing is selecting from alternative possibilities / possible alternatives. But it would still really be true that I would think I am making choices.”

Robert said: "Wrong, wrong, wrong. While a belief has to correspond to reality to be true, an action is real if and only if is done. In an ED world if I do the mental action of choosing in my mind, then in fact, in reality, I AM MAKING A CHOICE.

***And my point has been that sionce ED disallows true alternatives, but only allows for one c ourse of action, and choosing requires alternatives, then in an ED world you never do the action of choosing.

Robert said: "And note that for the zillionth time Arminian begs the question again with the words “but I would not really be making choices, for choosing is selecting from alternative possibilities / possible alternatives” which is yet again assuming the very thing to be proved. He states again that we are not **really** making a choice UNLESS WE HAVE A CHOICE.

****It is incredible that you can say this. You actually corroborate my view unintentionally. For you seem to acknowledge that my definition equates to saying that we are not **really** making a choice UNLESS WE HAVE A CHOICE. But I merely gave the dictionary dfeinition of choosing, which you have admitted to at times. It is not begging the question to show that the defnition of terms proves ones point, especially when using standard defnition, unlike you who is actually using a non-standard and unusual definition, except when sometimes slipping to admit mine.

Robert said: "No, we make a choice if we do that mental action of selecting, in our minds. That mental action of selecting one alternative from among a set of alternatives that we are considering (deliberating about) in our minds."

****But if it is not possible, then it is not an alternative. And in ED, there are no alternatives, only one course. Therefore, no choosing.

Robert said: "So it **is** only a selection if it is avoidable (if the selection is unavoidable then it is not a real selection, not making a choice).

****Yes, as proven above; it is a logically necessary corollary of the defnitiuon of choice and alternatives.

Robert said: " Well let’s take his idea and make another distinction here based on his thinking between (1) non-necessitated selections where you make a selection but it was avoidable you did not have to do it (choices where you do have a choice while you make a choice), you could have done otherwise; versus (2) necessitated selections where you make a selection but it was not avoidable you had to do it, you could not have done otherwise (choices where you do not have a choice while you make a choice).

Now note what is the common denominator in both (1) and (2)? Both involve doing the mental action of selecting from alternatives."

****You massively beg the question, assuming one can select in ED and saying one can select from alternatives in it, and you contradict the very basic common defnitions of these terms. How can one have an alternatives in ED when only one course is possible?

Robert said: "Now I submit that the most simple meaning, the common meaning of making a choice is “selecting from alternatives”. It is Arminian who has to add qualifiers to the simple meaning of making a choice/selecting from alternatives, not me. :-)"

****Ah, great, yet another admitting of my defnition. I have drawn out the logically necessary implicartions from the defnition, and set thaty out above. In ED one has no alternatives, no options, only one possibility (so no not possibilities). Therefore, according to your own defnition just given, one cannot choose in ED.

Robert said: "So in an ED world they would experience “necessitated selections” rather than “non-necessitated selections”?"

****They wouldn't do the selecting though. God would. They would simply do what he chose.

Again, he assumes you cannot make a selection unless you have a choice. Didn’t Arminian admit earlier that we can be mistaken about what we believe when we make a selection?

****See how you continue to throw in belief into the equation even though you were comlaining earlier that I was cconfusing the issue with belief? It seems very strange.

Robert said: "Only if you define making a choice as a non-necessitated selection."

****Which is another valid way of defining choice in that it is necessarily so that if a course is necessitated, then no selection can be made because ED eliminates alternatives, and alternatives are necessary for selecting, as you seem now to admit (i.e. you admit that choosing is "selecting from alternatives").

Robert said: I had suggested that you could make a choice in an ED world and Arminian responds that it would not be making a choice, “It is simply doing something.” Arminian has already made a category mistake between beliefs and actions, now he will simply redefine the reality away with words. Instead of admitting that doing the mental action of selecting one alternative from others in your mind **is** MAKING A CHOICE, we are now told that, “It is simply doing something”. Well of course doing the mental action of choosing is “doing something”. Now we are engaging in semantics to evade the truth.

****It is inapproriate to accuse me of playing word games to evade the truth. That sounds like Triablogue debate tactics. And it is an ironic charge given the fact that I have repeatedly argued that the definition of choosing requires possible alternatives / alternative possibilities, in accordance with the standrad defnition, one you have agreed to, so that there is no choosing if one must do the action. It's ironic because you again beg the question massively, basically arguing, "we choose, but Arminian denies it and redefines choice"; and it is ironic because you are the one who has stressed the great importance of belief, and I have simply responded to that.

Robert said: "While I have been making distinctions in order to explain and think through things carefully and even had Ben suggest that it seemed like playing semantic word games (why isn’t Ben saying the same thing about what Arminian is doing here?)."

****Because I am not, but you sound like you are, even though I do not believe you are trying to do so. I would like to invite Ben to state his reasoning. My guess is that it would be the same basic thing.

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Robert,

Me: “Fair enough.”

You: What does **that** mean?
I agree with you on a substantive level, but not on a semantic level. Previously I was concerned you were overlooking that “failed attempts” were PA, even if not intended. Thus I thought the issue was PAs, but it’s not. Now I see that you’re just saying that determinism could be true and people can think the options they contemplate are possible (when in fact they are not). I agree that could happen, but I wouldn’t call it a choice. So our disagreement is verbal, not substantive.
I will suggest a different way of looking at the having/making a choice distinction. If you have a choice, you have at least two possible courses; if you make a choice, you exercise one of the two possibilities.

Understood this way, ED and making a choice are incompatible. I think this understanding has the advantage of “being real”.

God be with you,
Dan