God, Modalities, and Conceptualism

Philosophy and Theology 15 (2):257-271 (2003)
Abstract
God’s relationship to modalities poses a serious problem for the theist. If God determines modalities, then it seems that he can do anything. If, on the other hand, modalities determine God’s actions, then it seems that he is not genuinely free. Conceptualism offers a solution to this problem by maintaining that modalities are determined by what is conceivable for the intellects of the universe that God has chosen to create. Prior to the creation of intellects, there are no modalities restricting God’s choice. Consequently, God is genuinely free. What is more, prior to creation there are no modalities, thus it is not the case that anything is possible. However, there are several problems with conceptualism. In particular, because the necessary features of the modal concepts themselves are independent of the shape of any intellect, no form of conceptualism will succeed as a solution to the problem of modalities
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