Prepunishment and Explanatory Dependence: A New Argument for Incompatibilism about Foreknowledge and Freedom

Philosophical Review 122 (4):619-639 (2013)
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Abstract

The most promising way of responding to arguments for the incompatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom (in one way or another) invokes a claim about the order of explanation: God knew (or believed) that you would perform a given action because you would, in fact, perform it, and not the other way around. Once we see this result, many suppose, we'll see that divine foreknowledge ultimately poses no threat to human freedom. This essay argues that matters are not so simple, for such reasoning threatens also to reconcile divine prepunishment with human freedom. The question here is this: if you have already been ( justly) punished by God for doing something, how then could you avoid doing that thing? As we'll see, there is a strong argument that seems to show that you couldn't. However, this essay argues that if divine prepunishment rules out human freedom, then so does divine foreknowledge. The arguments are exactly parallel in certain crucial respects. At any rate, investigating the issues surrounding prepunishment can help to throw into relief the various different strategies of response to the foreknowledge argument and can bring out what their costs and commitments really are. In particular, investigating prepunishment can help to bring out the inadequacy of the “Ockhamist” reply to the argument, as well as the sense in which God's past beliefs need to depend on what we do, if we are plausibly to have a choice about those beliefs

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Patrick Todd
University of Edinburgh

References found in this work

On Action.Carl Ginet - 1990 - Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
On Action.Carl Ginet - 1990 - Mind 100 (3):390-394.
God, Time, and Knowledge.William Hasker - 1989 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Divine omniscience and voluntary action.Nelson Pike - 1965 - Philosophical Review 74 (1):27-46.
Soft facts and ontological dependence.Patrick Todd - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (3):829-844.

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