Thursday, March 23, 2006

God, foreknowledge, freewill, multiple futures and

Dear Mr. Supposed Philosopher:

I read your short email to me where you said having "freedom" is not merely doing what we want to do, but being able to have done other than we did. This seems crazy for the following reasons:

1. If your definition about freedom is true, then exact foreknowledge does not exist.
2. If exact foreknowledge does not exist, then any talk of freedom is meaningless.
3. Thus, if your definition reflects the way things are, then one can't make sense of 'freedom'.

-- anonymous

Philosophy addicted loser:

0. I acknowledge the argument as valid, but not sound. Premiss #2 is false; thus, the conclusion has no bite on me.

1. God does, I'll grant, have foreknowledge, and this even if we have free will (as I defined it). Here's how:

2. First, we can make a distinction between knowing THE exact future (one) and knowing the SET of possible futures (many). Now God is aware of what it is possible to do, all the decisions that I can physically implement at the time of choice. Thus, God is NEVER surprised by what I can do, and indeed God can lay maximally predictive odds on what I MIGHT do. After all, God is a maximally good mathematician and statistician. But there are at least SOME times where the assessed ODDS of me doing action X are high, but where I actually do some other action, Y. This is what it means to say that I have a free will in the libertarian sense.

3. God likes it this way, for if I had no freewill, then I would merely be an extension of God's will, much like a shovel is an extension of my arm.

~ M.S.P.

4 Comments:

At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Blue Hair Man said...

Ah Brint.. I miss the sharp pain associated with your rebuttals.

Just out of curiousity, why did you not consider the possibility of multiple decisions being instantiated simultaeneously, in alternate universes?

While this may be still speculative to a cosmologist it is square within the realm of a philosopher.

 
At 8:58 PM, Blogger brinticus said...

The reason I don't like the idea of multiple decisions being instantiated simultaneously in alternative universes is this: There is just one me. There might be other beings a whole like like me, perhaps being only a single electron different than me, but they are not me. Thus, the one me that there is, is the one who decides. Thus, the ONE decision that matters, is the ONE which is associated with the ONE decider -- again, that being me.

 
At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Blue Hair Man said...

Wait, how can that be? Is the you now not the same you that wrote that comment, surely you've lost some electrons, grown new skin and hair, etc.

If "you" make the decision and it results in a change in your state is it still you?

I can see your objection but I disagree. Even with multiple instanciated decisions you still have a lineage that traverses all the decisions "you've" made, even if you share some of that lineage with alternate you's.

Does the idea that you may have shared a decision tree with someone quite similar to (but not) you make the resulting you not you? I don't think so. "You" are the sum of your decisions and though there are people alot like you it doesn't change the fact that there is only 1 that made your decisions.

 
At 11:03 PM, Blogger brinticus said...

You're haggling over what is called The Closest Continuer Theory. Here is a discussion of the kinds of worries one gets about identity if they deny the Closest Continuer Theory (or if they affirm it):

http://www2.drury.edu/cpanza/continuer-theory.html

~b

 

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