Against Limited Foreknowledge

Philosophia 42 (2):523-538 (2014)
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Theological fatalists contend that if God knows everything, then no human action is free, and that since God does know everything, no human action is free. One reply to such arguments that has become popular recently— a way favored by William Hasker and Peter van Inwagen—agrees that if God knows everything, no human action is free. The distinctive response of these philosophers is simply to say that therefore God does not know everything. On this view, what the fatalist arguments in fact bring out is that it was logically impossible for God to have known the truths about what we would freely do in the future. And this is no defect in God’s knowledge, for infallible foreknowledge of such truths is a logical impossibility. It has commonly been assumed that this position constitutes an explanation of where the fatalist argument goes wrong. My first goal is to argue that any such assumption has in fact been a mistake; Hasker and van Inwagen have in effect said only that something does go wrong with the argument, but they have not explained what goes wrong with it. Once we see this result, we’ll see, I think, that they need such an account—and that no such account has in fact been provided. The second goal of this paper is therefore to develop— and to criticize— what seems to be the most promising such account they might offer. As I see it, this account will in fact highlight in an intuitively compelling new way what many regard to be the view’s chief liability, namely, that the truths about the future which God is said not to know will now appear even more clearly (and problematically)‘ungrounded’



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Patrick Todd
University of Edinburgh

Citations of this work

Foreknowledge and Free Will.Linda Zagzebski - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:online.
Counterfactuals of divine freedom.Yishai Cohen - 2016 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 79 (3):185-205.
Foreknowledge requires determinism.Patrick Todd - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 107 (1):125-146.

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References found in this work

The Universe as We Find It.John Heil - 2012 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
On Action.Carl Ginet - 1990 - Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Truth and ontology.Trenton Merricks - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
On Action.Carl Ginet - 1990 - Mind 100 (3):390-394.

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