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From restricted to full omniscience

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2010

ALEXANDER R. PRUSS
Affiliation:
Baylor University, One Bear Place #97273, Waco, TX 76798-7273 e-mail: alexander_pruss@baylor.edu

Abstract

Some, notably Peter van Inwagen, in order to avoid problems with free will and omniscience, replace the condition that an omniscient being knows all true propositions with a version of the apparently weaker condition that an omniscient being knows all knowable true propositions. I shall show that the apparently weaker condition, when conjoined with uncontroversial claims and the logical closure of an omniscient being's knowledge, still yields the claim that an omniscient being knows all true propositions.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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References

1. van Inwagen, Peter ‘What does an omniscient being know about the future?’, in Kvanvig, J. (ed.) Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, I (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 216230Google Scholar.

2. Pike, NelsonDivine omniscience and voluntary action’, Philosophical Review, 74 (1965), 2746CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3. van Inwagen ‘What does an omniscient being know’, 224 (my numbering of conditions).

4. If one believes in truth-makers, one might try the following trick. Say that a proposition p is ‘shifty’ provided that there are two worlds w 1 and w 2 at each of which p is true, but p has a truth-maker at w 1 which does not exist in w 2. For instance, the proposition that I will mow the lawn tomorrow or Obama is President is shifty, since in some worlds it has the event of my mowing the lawn tomorrow as a truth-maker, while in other worlds it is still true, even though that event does not exist. Then one simply excludes all shifty propositions. I do worry, though, that excluding all shifty propositions will exclude just about every interesting proposition. For instance, take the proposition that George greeted Sarah. In one world this is made true by George's saying ‘Hello’ to Sarah while in another this is made true by his saying ‘Hi’ to her.

5. E.g. Pruss, Alexander R.The Principle of Sufficient Reason: A Reassessment (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

6. I am grateful to Jonathan Kvanvig and commenters on prosblogion.ektopos.com for discussions of these topics.

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