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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Adam Contra Evil

Let’s look at the following argument I saw on a different website:

1. If Adam has [sic] chosen otherwise, there would be no evil.
2. It was possible for Adam to choose otherwise.
3. There is a possible world without evil.
C. All evil is unnecessary.

As to logical validity, (3) follows but (C) comes out of nowhere.  There is a hidden premise somewhere in here that needs to be brought out and so the argument holds no force as is since it’s not logically valid.  However, it will be an interesting exercise to look at the argument.

First, (1) is not obvious for it seems clear that it could be the case that Adam chose otherwise in his first sin and yet sinned latter. Or, if we see the serpent as sinning then that would be another example.  Moreover, Eve also sinned so there’s another counterexample.  So (1) is not correct as is, so it would need to be reformulated.

As to (2), that’s not as obvious either.  I suppose the argument wants to say something like the following:

(2.1) If Adam has libertarian free will, then it’s possible that he chooses otherwise.
(2.2) Adam has libertarian free will.
(2) Therefore, it’s possible that he chooses otherwise.

I personally do not find (2.1) very compelling myself.  I tend to think that the Frankfurt counterexamples to the principle of alternative possibilities are sound and so (2.1) is not obvious as is.

But let’s say the argument is reformulated so that (3) follows and the argument is sound.  So what?  The problem here is that it is missing still a further premise.  Namely:

(4) If a world is a possible world, then that world is a feasible world.

However, molinism denies (4) and so any problem is avoided.

All in all, therefore, it seems like a bit closer reading of Plantinga would clear up this argument right away.  The free will defense still stands, then.