Reconciling Omniscience and Freedom: Ockhamist and Molinist Strategies

Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison (1991)

Abstract
The classical theistic concept of God includes the essential property of divine omniscience. To be omniscient is to know all true propositions. But it seems that propositions describing future events and actions are true. But then for every agent S, action A and time T, if S performs A at T, then God has always known that S would do A at T. But then it seems as though S is not free to do other than A at T since this would either involve changing the past, which is logically impossible, or bringing it about that an essentially omniscient being had a false belief, which is equally impossible. ;I consider two classical attempts at reconciling omniscience and human freedom, both of which have recently enjoyed a revival of interest. On the one hand, the general approach of William of Ockham argues that free agents have a limited range of power over the past in a way that does not entail their changing the past. On the other hand, there is the approach of Luis De Molina who held that God has, logically prior to the actualization of any possible world, a knowledge of all true counterfactuals of freedom. Thus, for every possible agent S and every possible set of circumstances C, there is some action A available to S and God knows whether S would do A if placed in C. This knowledge, combined with God's knowledge of his own intention to create S and place him in C provides God with the knowledge that S will do A. ;I argue that Ockhamism and Molinism are incompatible approaches, in spite of the fact that so many philosophers have been eager to embrace both. Further, libertarianism poses certain constraints that are met by Ockhamism but are not met by Molinism. Thus, the libertarian should be an Ockhamist
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