All Dan is doing here, and all that Dan is ever doing here, is to fault determinism because it isn’t libertarianism. He keeps acting as if determinism is deficient since the determinist can’t view “choice” in the same way a libertarian can. ...Dan has no capacity for critical detachment. He can’t bring himself to evaluate the opposing position on its own terms. All he does is to apply a libertarian yardstick to determinism, and–voila!–determinism comes up short if you measure it by a libertarian yardstick.
The first statement (that I am faulting determinism because it isn’t libertarianism) is somewhat true, but it would be better to say I fault determinism because I suspect it is libertarianism. I suspect determinists are inconsistent and retain libertarian notions. They say 'choose' meaning what everyone else does (selection between possible alternatives); but also hold to determinism, which conflicts with 'choose'. It seems Calvinsits use the normal ‘dictionary’ definition of choose but don’t follow this definition through to its logical conclusions.
The second statement (that I can’t bring myself to evaluate Calvinism on its own terms) is also somewhat true. The Calvinist concept of choice does not make sense to me – I await a clear and precise explanation as to what it is. So I keep looking for Calvinism to make sense; to explain what choose means. But I fail to see how Steve's card player example explains things. Meanwhile (absent a way of understanding the Calvinist concept of ‘choose’), I am beginning to suspect Calvinists are simply inconsistent - confusing themselves and others.
Dan: “I don't believe I am equivocating; given determinism, a person can’t choose otherwise and if one is a determinist, they can’t consistently think they can choose otherwise. I don't think the epistemic sense of ‘possible’ reconciles determinism with 'the ability to choose otherwise'.”
Steve: That condition is irrelevant to my example.
If the card player example wasn’t intended to support Steve's claim regarding the ability to choose otherwise, what’s its purpose?
Dan: “The card player example relates to the outcome of choices not choices (I said choose otherwise, not do otherwise). The epistemic sense of 'possible' relates to the execution of choices, not choices themselves. In fact, the card player example is twice removed from the choice itself. The card player chooses to take another card; his success or failure in that attempt is getting another card or not (i.e. does he have a heart attack while asking for one, or does a ceiling tile fall on the dealer's head...). Steve's example is about the outcome of the draw, not the draw itself. Further, the card player isn't thinking ‘is choosing to draw possible?’ (i.e. can I make the internal mental resolution?), he's thinking about the outcome of drawing another card, so his use of possible relates to outcomes of choices, not choices themselves.”
Steve: Since Dan has insisted on a very expansive definition of choice, which includes the outcome, Dan’s objection is inconsistent with his own definition: “I generally think of choices at three levels: 1) contemplation, 2) choice and 3) execution of choice.”
My definition doesn’t make Steve’s example relevant to Steve’s definition.
The explanatory power of Steve’s card player example seems dependent on a dissanalogous aspect of the example. The ‘possibility’ Steve talks about is downstream and doesn’t make direct contact with the choice, yet Steve uses the example to explain choice. Steve isn’t talking about the player drawing or not drawing, but rather the outcome of the draw. As Steve notes, the player's choice doesn’t alter the order of the deck, so while he chooses to draw or not, he doesn't choose the outcome.
The point is that the ‘possibility’ in the card player example is impersonal, and nor something the card player can effect. That's why this type of possibility isn't suitable for explaining choice.
Does a gambler look up the definition of “choice” in Webster’s before he plays poker?
The card player has some notion of what choice means.
Steve: But the “one possibility of a time” limitation is an objective limitation which is imposed on human agents by the nature of time itself–in conjunction with logical (in-)compossibilities. We cannot simultaneously make contrary choices. In some cases we can make successive contrary choices, but because contrary choices are mutually exclusive, you can only make one such choice at a time. That limitation is due to the nature of time itself, as well as what is logically compossible.
While two actuals are impossible, alternative possibilities are not. Steve seems to be speaking about two actuals, but my statement was about alternative possibilities.
Dan: “A determinist can't say (or think or imply) 'I know 20 is possible', if 20 is possible or 21 is possible and he doesn't know which.”
Steve: A determinist doesn’t have to think both A and B are live possibilities. Rather, he doesn’t know in advance which abstract possibility is concretely impossible.
It’s difficult to see how Steve’s comment is responsive or undermines my argument that one cannot positively assert twofold possibilities (even in the epistemic sense of possibility) without undermining determinism. The only way I could see Steve’s comment as being at all relevant would be if he is stressing the negative aspect – not knowing which is impossible (as opposed to thinking that given what I know this is logically possible). The problem is that Steve himself has used ‘possibilities’ in positive assertions, not just negative assertions. Using possibilities in positive assertions undermines determinism; as we have seen.
The card player can't form a positive assertion like: "given what I know these two things are possible" or "my information about these two things logically reconcile without contradiction". As soon as he does, he undermines libertarianism.
Dan: The basis of truth is causal. Causal forces outside the player and the player's causal power will determine the outcome. When we say someone can choose, we are making a positive assertion about an agent's causal abilities. We are saying what the agent can cause. Logical possibility relates to ideas, not persons. A truth can't reach out and grab you, constrain you or causally determine what you do, but a person might.
Steve: Like shuffling a deck of cards.
What does that have to do with the card player’s abilities? This really highlights the problem noted above. The ‘possibility’ in the card player example is impersonal, and nor something the card player can effect. Choice is a power of the agent, we choose what is within one's power.
We can’t transplant the epistemic sense of ‘possible’ in the card player example into the definition of choice. Steve can’t shift from third person to first. You can’t move from ‘chocolate is possible’ to ‘I can choose chocolate’. While you can move from 1st to 3rd, you can’t move from 3rd to 1st person. In other words; “I can choose chocolate’ entails that in light of my abilities ‘chocolate is possible’. But ‘chocolate is possible’ in an epistemic sense does not entail ‘I can choose chocolate’ and has nothing to do with the agent’s abilities.
Dan :“Finally, Steve looks for Greek and Hebrew word studies. I have already pointed out that modern scolorship is unanimously translates bâcha and eklegomai as choose.”
Steve: This goes back to Dan’s incorrible dishonesty. Yes, he pointed that out. And I responded to his rejoinder.When I respond to his rejoinder, what does he do? Does he acknowledge my response? No. He acts as if nothing was every said in response to his rejoinder.Dan can’t bring himself to argue in good faith. He keeps repeating the same stale arguments as if no one ever interacted with his argument.
This argument stalemated on the definition of choose; which is why I have been focusing on that.
Steve: A possible agent’s object of choice is not the same object as God’s object of choice. When we say that God chooses a possible world, what we mean is which possible world God choose to instantiate. Which possible world will become the real world.When we say what a possible agent chooses, that has reference to what a possible agent does in a possible world. It doesn’t mean a possible agent is choosing which possible world will become the real world. Due to Dan’s equivocation, Molinism continues to fall afoul of my objection: in the actual world, an actual agent isn’t free to choose between either A or B. Rather, the actual world actualizes either A or B. If it actualizes A, then B is no longer in play. If it actualizes B, then A is no longer in play. In Molinism, libertarian freedom only applies at the level of possible worlds, and not the actual world. An actual world actualizes one possibility to the exclusion of the others. That’s the point. That’s what distinguishes actuality from possibility. These alternatives are only live possibilities in possible worlds. In the real world, they cease to be live possibilities.
Again, I am not sure if Steve is attempting to describe Molinism or present a reductio ad absurdum argument. If he’s describing it, the description is inaccurate. Here’s a quote from Molina:
For the things that issue forth from our choice or depend on it are not going to happen because they are foreknown by God as going to happen, to the contrary, they are foreknown by God as going to happen in this or that way because they are so going to happen by virtue of our freedom of choice – through if they were going to happen in a contrary way, as they are able to, then from eternity they would be foreknown as going to happen in that contrary way instead of in the way the are in fact foreknown as going to happen – and, indeed the knowledge by which God knew absolutely that such and such things would come to be is not a cause of the things, but rather, once the order of things that we see has been posited by the free determination of the divine will, then (as Origen and the other Fathers observe) the effects will issue forth from their causes – naturally from natural causes, freely and contingently with respect to both parts from free causes – just as if God had no foreknowledge of future events. From this it clearly follows that no prejudice at all is done to freedom of choice or to the contingency of things by God’s foreknowledge, aFor more contemporary accounts, please see Flint and Craig’s response to Hasker and Adams anit-Molinist arguments.
foreknowledge through which, because of the infinity and wholly unlimited perfection and acumen of His intellect, He sees with certainty what the free causes placed in any order of things will do, even though they could really, if they so willed do the contrary; rather, even though that knowledge exists, freedom of choice and the contingency of things with respect to both parts remains intact, just as if there were no foreknowledge. (Molina Translation by Freddoso. Concordia Disp 52 para 29.)
So it’s wrong to say "in libertarian Molinism, freedom only applies at the level of possible worlds, and not the actual world".
While it’s true God is choosing the whole world, that world includes us choosing some small part of it. Further, God’s actualization of that possible world unfolds over time and in different modes – either directly (as in cases like creation and miracles…) or indirectly by permitting us to actualize parts of it in accordance to what He knew we would do.
So if Steve was explaining Molinism, the description was inaccurate, leaving ample room for developing faulty conclusions.
On the other hand, if Steve was providing a reducto ad absurdum argument against Molinism, it’s hard to tell just what it might be. When Steve says “the actual world actualizes either A or B” he substitutes ‘the actual world’ for people’s choices. It's like he's personifying the actual world. What are we to make of such an argument? The world doesn’t possess us, nor force our wills.
Steve: The other problem goes to basic contradiction within Molinism. On the one hand, Molinism tries to reconcile predestination with libertarian freedom. Possible agents are free to do otherwise, but God determines which possibility to instantiate.
Steve's statement "God determines which possibility to instantiate" could be taken in two ways. Determined may either be a mental resolution or deciding on a plan in our minds (in which cases Molinists agree with Steve's statement). What is determinate is God’s mind. But if Steve means God determines the possibility (what is determined is the world, not God’s mind), Molinists disagree.
Steve: On the other hand, Molinism says that God can choose from this array of possibilities because he knows what a human agent would do in any given situation. However, the conventional definition of libertarian freedom is the freedom to do otherwise in the very same situation.
Freedom to do otherwise in the very same situation isn’t a conventional definition of LFW, the normal definition is the ability to choose otherwise. Open theists use the ‘same situation’ definition since they have a tough time with the question ‘otherwise than what?’ Since they don’t hold to ‘a future’ they have a hard time saying we are free to choose otherwise than we will choose. So they go with freedom to do otherwise in the same situation.
Steve: So it turns on which side of the Molinist contradiction you want to accentuate. If you accentuate the libertarian side of the Molinist contradiction, then Dan has introduced a false dichotomy: “But in Molinism, if we would choose chocolate; God can't choose the possible world in which we choose vanilla.”
My statement isn’t a false dichotomy. It isn’t even a dichotomy.
Steve: Up to a point, that’s true, but quite deceptive. For if libertarianism is true, then there’s a possible world in which we choose chocolate, and another possible world in which we choose vanilla. If freedom means the freedom to do otherwise, then there’s a possible world which matches each alternative Therefore, even if we accept libertarianism, God is never confronted with a situation in which our choice restricts his choice.
I agree with Steve’s premise (two possible worlds), but the conclusion does not follow. God enables us to choose, so while we ultimately depend on His power, He can’t force us to choose something.
Steve: If you stipulate that freedom means the freedom to do otherwise, then you deny God unique ability to know what we’d do in any given circumstance. If what we will do could go either way, then our choice cannot be a determinate object of knowledge.
God knows the future, not by it being predetermined, but rather directly. We should not denigrate God's epistemology to our level.
Steve: Possible agents comprise different sets of serial choices. Different hypothetical timelines. Even if you say that successive choices are successively realized, that’s irrelevant to the fact that God is instantiating one series of possibilities to the exclusion of other series. God makes that call, not the possible agent. Even in Molinist terms, the real world has a closed future.
God is instantiating one of the possibilities indirectly, by permitting us to instantiate it in accordance with what He knew we would do.
Steve: A possible person is simply a divine concept. A mental construct. It’s not something over and above God’s conception, in relation to which God is dependent. To the contrary, a possible person is entirely dependent on divine cogitation.
A possible person is more than God’s conception in the same way an actual person is more than God’s actual power. So unless we embrace pantheism, we are in some way distinct from God.
Steve: Moreover, libertarian freewill assumes control over the outcome. That’s the point. Unless the decisions of the free agent effect the chosen outcome–he’s hardly free in a libertarian sense. It would be like pushing buttons on a vending machine in which you’re free to push any combination you like, but what you get doesn’t correspond to what you select. You select the Butterfinger Crisp, but you get the 3 Musketeers instead. Is that how Dan now defines “choice”?
The means were chosen (i.e. hitting the button) but the outcome was not. Sometimes multiple choices are spoken of as one, when they are working together to accomplish one purpose. When the chain breaks, one must distinguish between the various elements. Whether choice relates to multiple mental resolutions or multiple outcomes or both; in any case determinism is undermined. However, since God looks at the heart, moral responsibility attaches first and foremost to internal actions.