Counterfactuals of Freedom

This post echoes Plantinga’s discussion in The Nature of Necessity.

Suppose we have libertarian free will which I shall take weakly as meaning that not all of our decisions are determined. A couple days ago I was weedwhipping after cutting the grass and the weedwhip stopped working all of the sudden (we still do not know what is wrong with it!). I was talking to my brother and I told him how I tried to start it again and it wouldn’t start and so I eventually went inside to talk to my dad about it. Anyway, I then posed the following question, “what would you have done in that situation?” Now, the interesting thing here is that he wasn’t puzzled nor did his eyes glaze over. He didn’t respond by saying, “well, Brett, clearly counterfactuals of freedom do not have a truth value and so the question does not make any sense.” And so it seems that we naturally think that these counterfactuals of freedom have truth value. We may not know what that truth value is, but the very fact that we ask these questions, believe them to be meaningful, and even sometimes argue about the answer seems to imply that there are counterfactuals of freedom.

As Plantinga says, I don’t think I have any argument for the truth of counterfactuals of freedom, but it seems natural enough. Thus, absent a defeater, it seems like we should think there are truth values for counterfactuals of freedom.

What might the person who denies counterfactuals say in response? I cannot think of an obvious except trying to provide a defeater. Can you?

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