Thursday, July 28, 2011

A disjunction about wronging

Suppose Merlin believes there is a parallel universe containing infinitely many people and that by scratching both ears simultaneously he can cause horribly painful deaths to each of them. And suppose that Merlin scratches both ears simultaneously in order to cause that horrible suffering and death. He has done something infinitely wrong—infinitely-multiple attempted murder—whether or not there are any people in a parallel universe. But whom have he wronged if there is no one in a parallel universe?

I think the only plausible answers are:

  1. God
  2. Merlin
  3. nobody and nothing.
If these are the only answers, and if we generalize from this case, it seems that we have to hold that:
  1. (a) God exists and is wronged by every wrong action, or (b) all wrong actions wrong their agent, or (c) it is possible for an action to be infinitely wrong without anybody or anything being wronged (or two or more of the above options hold).
Each disjunct in (4) is controversial. I embrace both (a) and (b).


David Parker said...

I can't resist asking you, do you think an actual infinite is possible?

Alexander R Pruss said...

My current thinking is that an actual infinite is possible, indeed may even be actual (if there will be animals in heaven, and they will be mortal, there will be an infinite number of future animals; but future things are actual, I say), but nothing can have an actual infinite in its causal history. This limits the ways that actual infinites can be arranged in the causal nexus.