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Facts, Freedom and Foreknowledge

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

E. M. Zemach
Affiliation:
Professor of Philosophy, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Department of Philosophy, Bar-Ilan University
D. Winderker
Affiliation:
Professor of Philosophy, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Department of Philosophy, Bar-Ilan University

Extract

Is God's foreknowledge compatible with human freedom? One of the most attractive attempts to reconcile the two is the Ockhamistic view, which subscribes not only to human freedom and divine omniscience, but retains our most fundamental intuitions concerning God and time: that the past is immutable, that God exists and acts in time, and that there is no backward causation. In order to achieve all that, Ockhamists (I) distinguish ‘hard facts’ about the past which cannot possibly be altered from ‘soft facts’ about the past which are alterable, and (2) argue that God's prior beliefs about human actions are soft facts about the past.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1987

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References

page 19 note 1 Among philosophers who espouse the Ockhamistic view are Adams, Marilyn, ‘Is the Existence of God a ‘Hard’ Fact?Philosophical Review 76 (10 1967), pp. 492503;CrossRefGoogle ScholarKenny, Anthony, ‘Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom’, in Aquinas: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Kenny, Anthony (Garden City, 1969), pp. 255270CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and Rowe, William L., Philosophy of Religion (Encino, Dickenson, 1978), pp. 154–69.Google Scholar For an excellent presentation of the Ockhamistic view from a historical perspective, see Marilyn Adams's and Norman Kretzmann's introduction to their translation of Ockham's Predestination, God's Foreknowledge and Future Contingents (New York, Appleton–Century–Crofts, 1969).Google Scholar

page 19 note 2 Fischer, John Martin, ‘Freedom and Foreknowledge’, Philosophical Review (01 1983), pp. 6779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

page 20 note 1 For other (non-identical) versions of this argument see, for example, Pike, Nelson, ‘Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action’, Philosophical Review LXXVII (01 1965), 2746;CrossRefGoogle ScholarHoffman, Joshua and Rosenkrantz, Gary, ‘On Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom’, Philosophical Studies XXXVII (1980), 289–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar Hoffman and Rosenkrantz's objection to the principle of power entailment can be overcome by introducing the relevant scope distinctions. In (3) above we avoid this issue, for brevity's sake, by assuming that α and β contain no definite descriptions.

page 21 note 1 Fischer, , op. cit. pp. 71–5.Google Scholar For Adams's account of the hard/soft fact distinction, see Adams, , op. cit. Pp. 493–4.Google Scholar

page 21 note 2 The above definition of C (w, t) can be strengthened, requiring members of C (w, t) to share the same physical laws with w.

page 22 note 1 Another way of dealing with such compounds would be Fraasen's, Van method of supervaluations, as expounded in his ‘Singular Terms, Truth-Value Gaps and Free Logic’, journal of Philosophy LXIII (1966), 481–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

page 23 note 1 On Adam's account (op. cit. pp. 493–4)

(C) ‘Statement P expresses a “hard fact” about a time T’ = df. ‘P is not at least in part about any time future relative to T’,

where ‘P is at least in part about time T’ is defined as follows:

(B) ‘Statement P is at least in part about time T’ = df. ‘The happening or not happening, actuality or non-actuality, of something at T is a necessary condition of the truth of P.’

Against this account of hard facts Fischer argues that since (m2) is a necessary condition for the truth of (m1), (m1) is at least in part about T2, in which case it does not express a hard fact about the past relative to T2. This is counterintuitive. Similarly for (n1).

page 28 note 1 Cf. Rowe, , op cit. p. 165.Google Scholar

page 28 note 2 Quoted by Aquinas, , Summa Theologiae, IA, 14, 8.Google Scholar

page 28 note 3 We are indebted to Charlotte Katzoff, Dale Gottlieb, Alex Blum, Yehudah Gellman and Harry Friedman for some good discussions on the problem of God's foreknowledge.

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