Wednesday, April 7, 2010

From restricted to full omniscience

I just posted a reprint of my paper "From restricted to full omniscience" where I show that if God knows every truth he can know, then he knows every truth. In particular, restricted accounts of omniscience on which God only knows knowables are a failure.

5 comments:

enigMan said...

Regarding the basic scenario at the top of page 2, do "I" and "Barack Obama" refer rigidly to those 2 people in the actual world, or to people in any possible world? If the former, then r cannot be known. If the latter, then God only knows that there is some possible world in which you mow the lawn tomorrow.

Alexander R Pruss said...

I assume that I and Obama exist in the actual world as well as in a number of possible worlds.

enigMan said...

I thought it must be something like that; and I think Peter's view is wrong, and that your argument might nicely show it. If I were van Inwagen I would say that the possible world in which Obama is not president is not now possible, and so it does not make r knowable now, and that when it did, it would not have yielded knowledge of p; but sadly, I'm not.

enigMan said...

I'm wondering if you could also argue more directly that if God knows everything knowable, and if it is not knowable that I freely choose to do X, still it is knowable that X happens (e.g. God might override my freedom in this case), and so if God does not know whether or not X happens, because I can freely choose to do X or not, then He is not omniscience...

enigMan said...

...i.e. He is not omniscient (in van Inwagen's sense).

Incidentally, I'm wondering (since you've clearly thought deeply about such matters) how you would answer the question, in virtue of what is God infallible?

If He is timeless, and happens to be omniscient, then He could not be otherwise. But why would He have to be omniscient in the first place? How would His beliefs track truths across possible worlds? It is one thing for us to believe that He is, and another thing for that belief to be justified.

And if He is rather everlasting, so that His beliefs change, would He be infallible because, similarly, He only has fully justified beliefs? In either caes the problem is that it is logically impossible to know any particularities about things that are completely cut off from one, even whether or not there are any such things.

Even if there are no such things (God being the creator of everything else, presumably), we seem to have a good reason to think that it is logically impossible for Him to know (infallibly) that He is.

And if so then omniscience should not be full omniscience. My objection does not work against this reason for restricting omniscience, but yours does. So if your argument is not flawed in some way (e.g. as in my second comment above) then there must be some other way in which God is infallible.

The problem is that there does not seem to be any possible way...