Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do Permissible Options Imply LFW?

Numbers 30:13 Every vow and every binding oath to afflict her soul, her husband may confirm it, or her husband may make it void. (NKJV)
This passage teaches that both options were permissible, neither option being a sin. Calvinists would probably respond by saying permissible options do not imply that the man can choose either option but why it does not is beyond me.

20 comments:

Francis Turretin said...

a) You have misunderstood the teaching of this passage. It is actually legislating contract law as applied to wives. If a wife entered into a contract under that legal system, the husband had the legal ability either to invalidate or ratify the contract. Thus, while wives could make contracts, they could only do so in a provisional way.

b) Whether the husband ought to invalidate or ratify any particular contract depends on the situation. For example, a husband would obviously have a moral obligation to invalidate a contract for prostitution. On the flip side, if the contract is otherwise lawful and if the husband had promised his wife he would ratify the contract, he may be under a moral obligation to ratify it.

There may have been, however, some morally indifferent cases, where either both choices were equally good, or where it was impossible for the man to tell what was better (morally). In such cases, there would be no (apparent, at least) moral obligation to pick one over the other.

Such moral freedom, however, is different from libertarian freedom. Indeed, such moral freedom is perfectly compatible with even a naturalistic, incompatibilist determinism view.

There's nothing there that particularly breathes "LFW" and it's a little puzzling why you think there might be.

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

This one might be like Harleys. If you have to ask, you wouldn't understand.

God be with you,
Dan

Francis Turretin said...

I appreciate that you let me rebuttal stand, but I'm not sure why.

Godismyjudge said...

Rebuttal? The basics of your response was anticipated in my post.

God be wiht you,
Dan

Francis Turretin said...

I don't think so. You don't address the fact that moral liberty is different from libertarian liberty.

Godismyjudge said...

I noted that difference in my OP.

God be with you,
Dan

Francis Turretin said...

You wrote exactly one sentence: "Calvinists would probably respond by saying permissible options do not imply that the man can choose either option but why it does not is beyond me."

Even assuming that my argument could be characterized as "permissible options do not imply that the man can choose either option" (which might possibly be a conclusion of my argument, but it's certainly not the whole argument) your entire response is "why it does not is beyond me."

That does not seem like a particularly meaningful response to the fact that moral liberty is not the same thing libertarian liberty.

For example, libertarian liberty could (on libertarian terms) exist in a world where either all choices are not permissible or all choices are permissible.

This gets us back to the problem of the definition of LFW as contrast with CFW, which you seem to have more or less deferred in our other comment box discussion.

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

Agreed, it does relate to LFW/CFW.

God be with you,
Dan

guilderbig said...

Hi,
Neither "permissible options" nor "the ability to do otherwise" imply libertarian free will if left unqualified. Compatibilists are more than happy to maintain a sense of ability that is both necessary for moral responsibility, and compatible with determinism. It is a "conditional sense of can" as Craig and Moreland put it. Or John Martin Fisher speaks of "reasons-responsiveness". The individual could have done otherwise if he had wanted to. but that does not for a minute entail the libertarian ability to do otherwise all things about the person being just the way they are. That libertarian account of alternative option actually makes choices arbitrary, because the sinner could have done otherwise without his heart being any different at the moment of the sin. Calvinists maintain that the sinner could have avoided the sin if his heart had been in a better place which of course on Calvinism is firmly in the hands of a God who extends the necessary grace to have such a heart.

Godismyjudge said...

I am aware of compatiblist equivocations but in the end, per compatiblism, you don't actually have the ability to choose otherwise.

God be with you,
Dan

guilderbig said...

The charge of equivocation is uncalled for. The Bible merely teaches the necessity of an ability to do otherwise. This ability can be interpreted as either conditional or libertarian. Neither of those two options can be affirmed without an argument. You would not accept the conditional interpretation without Calvinists giving an argument, would you? Similarly, the libertarian view must be independently supported. When you say "in the end", you really mean "because I say so". This hardly supports the libertarian conclusions that your initial post intended to defend (presumably against Calvinists).

guilderbig said...

Oh, and just to put those criticisms in perspective, we both stand as brothers in the Gospel. I dont want to be the jerk who comes in just to disagree. I read and very much appreciated what you had to say about Roman Catholicism. Keep up the good work in the defense of the only gospel that saves.
Blessings,
G.

Godismyjudge said...

You act as if what I said was unacceptable on compatiblism, but per compatiblism, you really are not able to choose otherwise. That ability is hypothetical not real.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

I am going to copy and paste in some details on this I provided in another post:


They [compatiblists] might say “you can choose to eat the ice cream”, but what they mean is only “you can choose to eat the ice cream, if it’s your strongest desire.” More interestingly, they say “you could have chosen to eat the ice cream”, meaning “you could have chosen to eat the ice cream, if it had been your strongest desire”, when in fact it wasn’t your strongest desire. This example is inbound to the choice (i.e. the normal model is desire leads to choice, which leads to action and this example deals with desire leading to choice rather than choice leading to action). But they do the same thing on the outbound side of the choice. For example, they will say “you can eat the ice cream”, meaning “you can eat the ice cream if you choose to”, even though you can’t in fact choose to.

Paul Manata has provided some additional examples of how this equivocation works. For example: Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro in their book Naturalism say choice is an undetermined mental action, yet Paul seems comfortable understanding it as determined. 1

So what’s really going on with this equivocation? For a determinist to speak of the possibility of events that are not determined, they must get rid of the determining factors. Here’s an example: I argued that if determinism is true, given the causal forces at play, I cannot choose or do counterfactuals, and Paul argues that “compatibilists would agree that a different past, or decree, renders those alternatives the possible ones chosen”. The past and decree are the causal forces at play. I stated “given the causal forces at play, but Paul must remove them and input different ones to talk about the possibility of counterfactuals.

Why is hypothetically getting rid of determinism a problem for determinists? Consider the compatibility thesis that the ideas of determinism and freewill are compatible. Clearly they are not, if you must get rid of the determining factors to speak of freedom to choose the undetermined event. Again, given the determining factors, choosing the undetermined event is impossible. The two concepts of being determined to do X and the ability to choose non-X are incompatible. Thus the determinist must develop his notion of freewill without the ability to choose non-X.



God be with you,
Dan

guilderbig said...

Yes, much of this clarification is correct: determinists like Paul Manata and myself believe that the ability necessary to ground moral responsibility is conditional and compatible with determinism. You disagree, and maintain that it is absolute and libertarian. That is your right, and each camp is free to understand "ability" in the sense which they believe is morally relevant. Determinists are not "equivocating" for simply disagreeing with you as long as no argument has been offered on either side.
Now the equivocation is actually committed by libertarians if, as you just did above, they start arguing that because the Bible requires ability, it excludes determinism and free will. It is either equivocating on the meaning of ability, or begging the question of which ability is necessary. Eitherway, the libertarian argument fails. And of course, this does not show that libertarianism is false, but it does show that your post does nothing to refute a compatibilist view of free will.

guilderbig said...

In stating your argument "because the Bible requires ability, it excludes determinism and free will"
I meant to say "because the Bible requires ability, it excludes determinism and affirms libertarian free will"
Obviously you do not exclude free will ;-)

Godismyjudge said...

It seems you agree with me that on determinism, our ability to choose otherwise is hypothetical rather than real, although you prefer the term conditional to hypothetical. If so, on this point we are on the same page.

But I think this understanding shows that free will and determinism are not compatible. If we ignore determinism, we can speak of free will and if we ignore free will we can speak of free will. That same same is true of any pair of contradictory things.

God be with you,
Dan

guilderbig said...

No, determinism does not prevent free will a priori. It may do so if a sound argument against compatibilism were offered, but you can't rule out "compatibilist free will" by sheer definitions claiming that obviously "free will" demands libertarian access to alternate possibilities. This is question begging.

Godismyjudge said...

We are talking past each other.

God be with you,
Dan

guilderbig said...

No we are not. I think understanding was reached. We agree on what the options are, disagree on some of their wording, and the claim "do permissible options imply LFW" has been shown false or question begging depending on what is meant by "permissible options". It's pretty good.
Let me close on the positive note again, and repeat my commendations of your defense of sola fide and sola scriptura on your blog. It's not empty flattery, it's truly enjoyable to see Arminians take on Romanism, and not leave the work to good old Calvinists. It's a breath of fresh air, and keeps the debate in perspective when protestant brothers disagree on providence while agreeing about the gospel.
God bless you.