Temporal actualism and singular foreknowledge

Philosophical Perspectives 5:475-507 (1991)
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Suppose we believe that God created the world. Then surely we want it to be the case that he intended, in some sense at least, to create THIS world. Moreover, most theists want to hold that God didn't just guess or hope that the world would take one course or another; rather, he KNEW precisely what was going to take place in the world he planned to create. In particular, of each person P, God knew that P was to exist. Call this the "standard" conception. Most theists find the standard conception appealing. Unfortunately, the view seems to conflict with the equally appealing idea — call it "temporal actualism" — that there are no "future" individuals beyond those that already exist in the present moment. For, on this view, for any historical person P, prior to creation, there was no such person as P and hence nothing about P for God to know. Hence, in particular, God couldn't have known that P was to exist. This is of course not a new problem. But past solutions to it are highly problematic. In this paper, after canvassing previous approaches, I will propose a solution that seems to preserve both temporal actualism and a suitably robust form of the standard conception while avoiding the pitfalls of the past.



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Christopher Menzel
Texas A&M University

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