The Power to Do the Impossible

Topoi 36 (4):623-630 (2017)
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Abstract

Several recent arguments purport to show that omnipotence is incompatible with the possession of various necessary properties. These arguments appeal to one of two plausible but false principles about the nature of power: that if it is metaphysically impossible for a being to actualize a state of affairs, then that being does not have the power to actualize that state of affairs, or that if it is impossible given some contingent facts about the world that a being actualize a state of affairs, then that being does not have the power to actualize that state of affairs. I pose several problems for both principles, thereby undermining the plausibility of these arguments. I then consider the implications of rejecting these principles for related principles in the free will debate. These implications suggest important differences between having the power to bring about a state of affairs, having a choice about whether it obtains, and being able to bring it about.

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Author's Profile

Brandon Carey
California State University, Sacramento

References found in this work

An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
The Paradoxes of Time Travel.David Lewis - 1976 - In Tim Crane & Katalin Farkas (eds.), Metaphysics: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.
Disposition Impossible.C. S. Jenkins & Daniel Nolan - 2012 - Noûs 46 (4):732-753.
Maximal Power.Thomas P. Flint & Alfred J. Freddoso - 1983 - In Alfred J. Freddoso (ed.), The Existence and Nature of God. University of Notre Dame Press. pp. 81--114.

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