Monday, December 7, 2015

Marriage in heaven

Question 1: Are there marriages in heaven?

Answer: No. Jesus explicitly says that there is no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven (Luke 20:27-38). So no new marriages are entered into in heaven. That might seem to leave open the question whether existing marriages might not continue. But the context of the discussion is of a woman who was married to a sequence of brothers and the paradoxical consequences of that if these marriages continue in the afterlife. Jesus' answer only solves the paradox if we accept the implicature that there is no marriage in heaven. Moreover, it would be an odd view if existing marriages persisted in heaven but new ones couldn't be entered into. If marriage in heaven would be a good thing for us, this kind of a setup just wouldn't be fair to a loving couple who was murdered minutes before their wedding was to take place.

Question 2: Why are there no marriage in heaven?

Answer: It's good that way. Well, that's true, but not informative: it applies to everything about heavenly life. But we can think a bit about why it's good for it to be so.

One thought is that only marriage for eternity would be fitting for heavenly life. Divorce just doesn't seem the sort of thing that is fitting for heavenly life. But I think it would be problematic for humans to bind themselves to one another for an eternal heavenly life. Heavenly life is unimaginable to us now, radically transcending our current knowledge. Because of this, it would not be appropriate for us to commit ourselves now to be bound to another person for an infinite length of time in that utterly different life. Now one might think that once in heaven the problem disappears. But I suspect it does not. I suspect that the heavenly life is a life of eternal and non-asymptotic growth (hence my recent swollen head argument against Christian physicalism). I don't know if the beatific vision itself increases eternally, but I suspect that at least the finite goods of heavenly life do. So some of the reasons why it would not be fitting for us to bind ourselves now to one another for eternity would apply in heaven: in year ten of heavenly life, perhaps, one cannot imagine what year one billion will be like; in year one billion, one cannot imagine what year 10100 will be like; and so on. Eternity is long.

A second thought is that there is something about the exclusivity of marriage that is not fitted for heavenly life. The advocates of free love had something right: there is something limiting about exclusivity. This limitation is entirely fitting given the nature of marriage and its innate links to reproduction and sexual union as one body. But nonetheless it seems plausible to me that an innately exclusive form of love is not fitted to heaven.

A third and most speculative thought: There is a link--worth exploring in much greater depth than I am going to do here--between the exclusivity of marriage and the appropriateness of according privacy to sexual activity. But I suspect that there is a great transparency in heavenly life. What is hidden is revealed. It is a life of truth rather than of withholding of information. In regard to the emotional life, those in heaven will have highly developed faculties of empathy. After all, my model is one of continued growth. People can grow immensely in empathy in this life--how much more will they likely grow in heaven! These faculties of empathy would enable people to have great empathetic insight into the sexual lives of others, to a point where that insight could make them empathetic participants in that life, in a way incompatible with the exclusivity of marriage and the privacy of sexuality.

79 comments:

Heath White said...

Your first argument seems to work for this life too, though. Newlyweds cannot imagine what it is like to be married for twenty years.

Your second argument, and third argument insofar as I understand what you are trying to say, might be addressed this way. Forget marriage; is there sex in heaven? One racy option is to say, sure: what would be counted promiscuous on earth is permitted in heaven, because sex is freed from the connection with reproduction. The alternative, and I think traditional, view is that just because there is no reproduction, there is no sex; sex is a biological function aimed at reproduction. But without sex, no marriage, since marriage is an institution that exists, basically, for regulating sex.

Objection, or at least an interesting question: what’s wrong with reproduction in heaven? Answer: if it were a good idea to bring perfected beings into a perfected world, it would have been a good idea to create the world that way. We should have no evil in this world. And if the newly created heavenly children had the possibility of sinning freely, they could mess heaven up for the rest of us, and we’d be back in the cycle of needing redemption.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Newlyweds typically at least have the example of others to draw on (the case of Adam and Eve is different, admittedly--maybe divine revelation would help?). And twenty years isn't that different from one year--at least not nearly as different as a billion from a hundred. :-)

I like your suggestion about reproduction.

Angra Mainyu said...

Alex and entirelyuseless

Regarding entirelyuseless's objection to reproduction in heaven, how about the following reply?

A high percentage of human embryos made through sex, die before they become fetuses, and a small percentage after that, spontaneously. Some studies found (source, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embryo#Miscarriage ) that that makes up about 35% (counting both embryos and fetuses). Assuming they all go to Heaven (if not, where? would they go to Hell? Limbo is discarded, right?), then Heaven is or will be populated by billions of people who have never been to Earth. Maybe even most of the population of Heaven is or will be like that (I don't believe in Haven, but I mean assuming Heaven, etc.). That's without even counting discarded frozen embryos, which might be a large number in the future.
But if only good things happen in Heaven, then it's a good thing that all of those people go to Heaven directly, without any previous free choices on Earth.
Why would there not be reproduction in Heaven as well?
If necessary, we can restrict the case to embryos formed after sex within the context of marriage, and cases in which both parents did something good by marrying and having sex. That results in lower numbers, but still probably billions.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Angra:

"But if only good things happen in Heaven, then it's a good thing that all of those people go to Heaven directly, without any previous free choices on Earth."

I think the consequent doesn't follow from the antecedent here. It's good for them to be in heaven. It might have been better for to be in heaven as a result of prior free choices.

(By the way, I think limbo is still a theological option, though not a widely favored one.)

Angra Mainyu said...

I'm not sure your counterexample works, for even if it would have been a better thing for them to be in heaven as a result of prior free choices, it would still be a good thing for them to be in Heaven without them, and so that they went to Heaven directly seems to be a good thing, not a bad or neutral thing.

That said, after I re-read that I realized the way I worded it, it doesn't follow without some implicit premises that you might not agree with, which is why I was writing some additions.

The part I had written so far: one might object that even if only good things happen in Heaven, their going to Heaven without previous choices doesn't count as happening in heaven. But even so, it sounds a bit of a stretch to say that reproduction would not be good in Heaven because of the reason listed by entirelyuseless, when billions of people (maybe most) are entering heaven without making any earthly choices first.

But I think a better way perhaps to reply is to mirror entirelyuseless's argument as follows:

entirelyuseless: "if it were a good idea to bring perfected beings into a perfected world, it would have been a good idea to create the world that way."

Parallel: If it were not a good idea to create the world in a way in which billions of perfected beings are brought into a perfected world, then the world would not have been created in that way. But the world was created that way. So, that was a good idea. Why would then not be a good idea to also create the world in a way that allows for another way in which perfected beings are brought into a perfected world, namely by means of sex between people in heaven?

Granted, if you have Limbo as an open option, that requires a small correction, as follows.

Parallel: If it were not a good idea to create the world in a way in which billions of perfected beings are brought into a perfected world, then the world would not have been created in that way. But the world was probably created that way. So, that was probably a good idea. Why should we conclude it's not a good idea (or probably not a good idea) to also create the world in a way that allows for another way in which perfected beings are brought into a perfected world, namely by means of sex between people in heaven?

That assumes that heaven is more probable than limbo. If it's roughly equally probable, there is a similar variant.

Alexander R Pruss said...

"If it were not a good idea to create the world in a way in which billions of perfected beings are brought into a perfected world, then the world would not have been created in that way."

A standard Christian view will be that death--including of embryos--is a part of the fallenness of the world. The world as originally created, prior to the fall, did not include the deaths of any human embryos. (How this maps onto evolutionary history is, of course, a difficult question, but multiple stories can be told there.)

Angra Mainyu said...

Alex,

The stories may be multiple in terms of details, but some features are common of them.
For example, human embryos would have been lost like the embryos of other animals, including pre-human ones. The reply implies deaths of all other living organisms was a consequence of the fall. But that would have required the fall to happen over (at least) 3.5 billion years ago, or time-backwards causation.
But saying that maybe the fall happened over 3.5 billion years ago, etc., would not be enough, because then one could reply that maybe not, and then maybe the world was created that way, so maybe it's a good thing to bring perfected beings into a perfected world, and maybe heaven is like that.
In other words, this reply seems to require a strong commitment on the part of the Christian (who accepts an old Earth, etc.) to either a fall older than 3.5 billion years, or time-backwards causation.

Angra Mainyu said...

Alex:

Another issue: if creation, as intended, was not meant to involve death or immoral behavior but was supposed to involve reproduction, what is the relevant difference between that scenario and reproduction in heaven?
In both cases, we're talking about reproduction in a realm in which only good things happen.
In other words, if it was a good idea to create the world originally like that, why not create heaven like that as well?
I guess a potential answer would be that there is no free will in Heaven, but is that something settled in Catholicism?
If it's a live option that there is free will in Heaven, then why would it not be a similarly live option that it would be a good idea to create heaven in a way that allows reproduction too?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Angra:

Presumably, God set things up so that if humans didn't sin, then the death that other animals were subject to would not touch humans. I have no idea how that was set up.

But I am more concerned about this: "if it was a good idea to create the world originally like that, why not create heaven like that as well?"

I will need to think more about this. But I think Heath's line of thought escapes it. For the world as originally intended differs from heaven. For instance, in heaven there is no longer any possibility of going morally wrong. The world as originally intended included that possibility. We do not know what would have happened later had no one sinned. Maybe there would have been a transition to something like a more heavenly mode of life?

Angra Mainyu said...

Heath:

I'm sorry, I was reading the other thread, and attributed your post to another poster, who goes by the user name "entirelyuseless".

Angra Mainyu said...

Alex:

"Presumably, God set things up so that if humans didn't sin, then the death that other animals were subject to would not touch humans. I have no idea how that was set up."
That doesn't seem to work on evolution. Humans would evolve from other, non-human animals that do die, and the first humans would be almost biologically identical to their parents. Save for some sort of perpetual miracle, humans would die.
Additionally, that would seems to lead to the following conclusion:
Either the non-fallen world included death all over the place, just not human death, or non-fallen humans were created in an already fallen world.

"I will need to think more about this. But I think Heath's line of thought escapes it. For the world as originally intended differs from heaven. For instance, in heaven there is no longer any possibility of going morally wrong. The world as originally intended included that possibility. We do not know what would have happened later had no one sinned. Maybe there would have been a transition to something like a more heavenly mode of life?"
My actual conclusion would be that God would never create a world where free agents possibly behave immorally. Free agents would never do that if God had created them.
But assuming otherwise (as I'm doing here), it seems to me that your answer raises a number of issues.
For example, let's consider the following variant of determinism:

D1: Determinism is true in world W iff a full true description of W up to time t, plus the laws of nature or whatever laws hold in W works by if any (including supernatural, etc.), entail a full description of W at any time t' later than t.

God's foreknowledge of the future entails (due to his mental states in the past) D1-determinism.
So, let's say that in W1, no one ever sins. Then, if God has foreknowledge, if W2 has the same past as W1 up to some t1, then no one ever sins at W2. In other words, in a world without sin but with foreknowledge, there seems to be no possibility of sin, either. How is that relevantly different from Heaven?

In other words, in which sense is sin not a possibility in heaven, but a possibility in a world in which no one ever sins?
Granted, you might say God is timeless, and also that in any world as originally intended, there is another one with the same past up to a point where sins happen, but that also requires rejecting options that are live ones on Christianity, it seems to me.


Alex and Heath:

There is another issue:

Heath: "if it were a good idea to bring perfected beings into a perfected world, it would have been a good idea to create the world that way".
Perhaps it would have been a good idea. However, save for modal collapse, there is more than one way in which it would have been a good idea to create the world.
Moreover, if it's a good thing to bring sinless beings into a world as ours was originally intended - a world in which no one sins -, why would it not be a good idea to bring sinless beings into a heavenly world, in which all things are good and immorality is impossible?
Arguably, that may very well be one of the other ways in which it would have been a good idea to create the world.

Alexander R Pruss said...

"That doesn't seem to work on evolution. Humans would evolve from other, non-human animals that do die, and the first humans would be almost biologically identical to their parents."

The first humans would have to differ from their brute parents at least in respect of their souls. On the Thomistic view of the soul, the soul is what controls all bodily functions, so it is not surprising that their bodily functions might be quite different from their forebears'. And maybe then God let us drop back, to be more like our non-human ape ancestors, after we sinned. I don't know.

"Save for some sort of perpetual miracle, humans would die."

Actually, there is some biblical justification for positing a perpetual miracle. The "tree of life" might have been some such miracle.

In any case, it seems pretty easy to come up with a bunch of theories that are compatible with the empirical data.

As for foreknowledge, what you are describing fits best with Molinism or theological compatibilism. Given simple foreknowledge, God's knowledge of what free actions will occur is explanatorily, but not temporally, posterior to these free actions. Hence God cannot rely on such knowledge in choosing what to create.

Angra Mainyu said...

Alex:

"The first humans would have to differ from their brute parents at least in respect of their souls. On the Thomistic view of the soul, the soul is what controls all bodily functions, so it is not surprising that their bodily functions might be quite different from their forebears'. And maybe then God let us drop back, to be more like our non-human ape ancestors, after we sinned. I don't know. "

What I was saying is that that does not work in the context of evolution (at least as one can tell on the basis of our scientific knowledge). It may work on the context of Thomism. But for example, on an evolutionary context (well, I'd say the word "human" wouldn't be precise enough for there to be first humans, but trying to combine that with the idea of a soul), the first humans would be almost identical genetically to their parents.
They would look like them, and they would think pretty much like them. And of course their bodily functions would also be almost the same. Of course, the first humans would also learn from their parents and other members of the tribe of non-humans things like how to gather and/or hunt, how to make tools, and how to communicate - either by speech or some proto-speech, depending on when it happened.
More to the point, their cells would grow, divide and die like ours, as they're made of the same sort of atoms, combined in the same sort of way, and the laws of the universe (or of nature, or whatever one calls them) are the same.
Immoral behavior would not alter their genetic makeup, or the composition of their cells, etc., so it seems that if their bodies were so different, they would have remained so unless God deliberately modify them to make them the way the bodies of all of the non-people around them were (i.e., modifying their DNA, maybe even the particles in their bodies depending on how different they were, etc.)

"Actually, there is some biblical justification for positing a perpetual miracle. The "tree of life" might have been some such miracle."

Okay. I have a question: since all other lifeforms suffered horribly and died before their fall, why wouldn't the same applies to humans?
After all, the Bible seems to make no difference between the death of humans and other animals before the fall - it seems to say none died.
Why not have all of the other animals be subject to the miracle as well?

"In any case, it seems pretty easy to come up with a bunch of theories that are compatible with the empirical data."

If you're going for logical compatibility, of course I agree with that. Theory is underdetermined by observations. In fact, there are infinitely many hypotheses compatible with observations, and one can easily come up with many of them. Even a variant of YEC would be compatible: one just needs to posit a sufficiently powerful entity - Yahweh would do - making things that look the way they do, for some reason (mysterious or one that one may posit).

"As for foreknowledge, what you are describing fits best with Molinism or theological compatibilism. Given simple foreknowledge, God's knowledge of what free actions will occur is explanatorily, but not temporally, posterior to these free actions. Hence God cannot rely on such knowledge in choosing what to create."

I wasn't trying to suggest could rely on it, but rather, that in a scenario in which God has that foreknowledge, the future is not open in the sense of different possible worlds branching from the same (more precisely, D1-determinism is true), which raises the question I was asking, namely: in which sense is sin impossible in heaven, but possible in a world in which no one sins?

That aside, I think the other objection works.

Heath White said...

Angra Mainyu,

My thought was fairly simple. Christians have to ask/explain why did God allow evil in the world. There are a lot of specific answers but the most general answer is, "It's better this way," i.e. it would be worse if the possibility of evil were ruled out. (We'd have no free will, we wouldn't morally develop, etc.) Whatever set of reasons a Christian should embrace on this question would also apply to why God wouldn't create brand-new humans in heaven without the possibility of evil.

That said, I'm not sure what to say about your embryo objection; it's a good point. Maybe one could say this: [the possibility of] the existence of evil is important not for individuals but for the collective development of the human race; that is accomplished in heaven; and it is okay if there are some individuals in heaven who never perpetrated evil.

I'm not totally satisfied with that answer, though.

Angra Mainyu said...

Heath,

Thanks for the clarification. That Christian reply (i.e., "It's better this way," i.e. it would be worse if the possibility of evil were ruled out. (We'd have no free will, we wouldn't morally develop, etc.)") has a number of problems, like:

1. Why is there so much evil in this world? Is that still better? Why all of the suffering of non-human entities?
If not, then the actual evil that we see remains unexplained?
2. Is it metaphysically possible that God created a heaven-like world, without a previous Earth-like environment?
3. Do we not have free will in heaven?
It seems to me that the answer you mention commits the Christian to the view that there is no free will in heaven, which is in turn problematic. Why would free people be deprived of their freedom?
For example, let's say that the world had worked as intended, so there was freedom, but no evil. Why suppress that freedom by turning the world into heaven? On the other hand, if there would have been no turning the world into heaven, that has some difficult consequences as well.

Regarding your reply to the embryo objection, according to Christianity, the world as originally intended was not meant to have any evil. That's the result of the fall. Hence, the existence of evil is not necessary for the development of the human race. Now, you might reply that at least the possibility of evil is necessary for the collective development of the human race. But then, there are two issues:

5. It's not clear in which sense evil is impossible in heaven but possible in the world as intended (see my point about D1-determinism in my exchange with Alex).
6. Even assuming that having an Eden-like creation rather than a heavenly one was better, it doesn't follow that once you already have the perfected heaven, it's not a good idea to bring about new people into it.
In fact, one could say that:

a. The development of humanity has already been achieved in heaven,
b. It's a good thing for people to be in heaven, and be eternally happy, even if they were never on Earth.

So, one might based on that ask: why would it not be good to reproduce in heaven, even if it was better to create the world in a non-heavenly way?

Angra Mainyu said...

Alex:

With regard to one of your arguments against marriages in Heaven (combined with another one of your arguments), I think that also leads to the conclusion that heaven was intended all along, for the following reasons:
Adam and Eve were apparently married, so there was marriage in the original plan.
Now, you say that "it would be problematic for humans to bind themselves to one another for an eternal heavenly life", because "Heavenly life is unimaginable to us now, radically transcending our current knowledge."
Let's say you're right. Yet, it wouldn't be problematic to have marriages in sinless non-heavenly life, so it seems sinless non-heavenly life would not result in something unimaginable, radically transcending our current knowledge.
That would imply that sinless non-heavenly people would not grow in knowledge indefinitely, so either the original plan included a transformation into heaven, or it didn't, in which case there would be a much more bounded amount of knowledge, and even endless repetitions of a finite number of different experiences - else, it seems eventually one would get a radically different experience.
But having reruns of the same mental states (in an internalistic sense) is not acceptable (from your argument against Christian physicalism), so it seems that heaven was intended all along.

Alternative: you might think endless repetitions of the same mental states and bounded knowledge is acceptable in the non-heavenly world as intended. But it seems ad-hoc to me.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Angra:

"With regard to one of your arguments against marriages in Heaven (combined with another one of your arguments), I think that also leads to the conclusion that heaven was intended all along"

That's very interesting. Thanks!

Heath White said...

Angra,

I do not really want to adjudicate the problem of evil in this comment thread. My point was that a Christian is already committed to a particular structure of answer to it, and that places constraints on how one thinks of reproduction in heaven.

However, very briefly--and I may be overstating some of your objections--I do not think any serious view should hold that God was unprepared for the Fall and had to rustle up a Plan B. Rather, the general Christian perspective ought to be that a creation that endures a sequence of evil followed by perfection is better than a sequence that is uninterruptedly perfect the entire time. Whether that value judgment applies to individuals, or to the human race collectively, is an interesting question.

Angra Mainyu said...

Heath,

I'd like to clarify that I wasn't trying to adjudicate the problem of evil in this thread (my position is that the argument succeeds, but I'm assuming otherwise here for the sake of the argument), or asking you to adjudicate it. My point 1. was that adopting the position you described would have a number of internal problems - it wasn't just the argument from evil, but rather, that in light of their answer, that becomes a pressing matter even if one grants for the sake of the argument that the general argument from evil fails.

But that aside, with regard to your point about what the Christian view ought to be, I'm not sure how to assess that without knowing what assumptions I have to make for the sake of the argument (with no such assumptions, I would not be inclined to say there ought to be one), and I'm not sure what assumptions you're making.

However, and regardless of what the Christian view should be, it seems to me that the one you described (namely, that "a creation that endures a sequence of evil followed by perfection is better than a sequence that is uninterruptedly perfect the entire time") is not very common among Christian philosophers, at least as far as I can tell.
This is not to say that Christian philosophers usually hold that God was unprepared for the fall. Alex can explain that much better, but as far as I know, the usual Christian view is that while God was prepared for the fall, it would have been overall better if no one had ever sinned and there had been no fall.

Richard Davis said...

Re: problem of evil:

Compare two beings:

Created being A, who starts with the ability to go wrong as well as the ability to go right, and it's up to A which of those two ways A goes.

Created being B, who starts with only the ability to go right, and therefore B MUST go right.

Suppose A ultimately goes right. Now, for all eternity, A enjoys one advantage over B: For all eternity, A's going right is up-to-A. B's going right, by contrast, is never up to B, but rather up to whatever created B.

Richard Davis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Davis said...

This seems important. If nothing outside of God determines God, then whatever God does is up-to-God (even if what God does is necessary and could not have been otherwise). But created beings aren't like this. Created beings are largely determined by something outside of them: God. Unless they have freedom, everything they do will be up-to-God rather than up to them. So if A is a created being, the only way A can get any sort of up-to-A-ness which is comparable to God's up-to-Godness is as follows: if God creates A in such a manner as to leave it undetermined whether A will gain or forego a certain property. I think this means that something like freedom is essential in order for a created being to resemble God with respect to up-to-selfness.

It seems quite plausible to me that how important it is for characteristic X to be up-to-A is proportional to the intrinsic importance of characteristic X. (If your hair color is up to you, well, that's something; but if your marriage and career are up to you, that's much more valuable.) So, ideally, whichever properties are our most important properties are the properties for which it is most important that we be created such that it is up-to-us whether or not we gain them. This is especially so if, a la Genesis 1, we humans are specifically intended to be 'images of God,' a condition which requires us to resemble God (including his up-to-selfness). I happen to think our moral and spiritual properties and the nature of our relationships with other persons are among the most important properties we have. So I think we should anticipate that if we were created by God to be God's images, our moral and spiritual properties would be largely up-to-us. This implies we would be so created as to be able to lose those properties (e.g., basic moral goodness) through own free action or free inaction (since, again, if we can never lose them, then it can never be up-to-us that we have them).

This seems to be a reason why we should NOT anticipate that all free beings made by God would fail to sin. They must have the ability to sin if when they don't sin, their not-sinning is to be at all up-to-them. But if enough beings are created with the ability to sin, then it's very likely that some would do it. (An ability to sin which gives no appreciable odds of actually sinning does not seem to be much of an ability and does not generate much up-to-selfness. For example, I suppose I strictly speaking have the ability to quantum tunnel through walls, but I don't think much of this super-low-odds ability and I don't feel that my not-quantum-tunneling-through-walls is very up-to-me.)

However: if a created being who does not have to make good choices does, in fact, develop a moral habit by making a number of good free choices, and then that moral habit forever thereafter ensures that the being in question ONLY makes good choices, then from that point on the being no longer needs the ability to sin in order for its not-sinning to continue to be up-to-that-being. All the being's not-sinning in the future will continue to be up-to-that-being, because its not-sinning continually results from its moral habit which, in turn, results from past actions which were up-to-that-being. If X results from Y and Y is up-to-A, then this is (in many cases) a way for X to be up-to-A as well.

So it seems that what we should expect is exactly the biblical story: the creation of beings who initially can sin but who work this ability out of themselves if they freely choose rightly for long enough. First Eden, then Heaven.

We should also expect that almost unthinkably vast magnitudes of good outcomes and bad outcomes will be up to these beings, since the more important the consequence which is up to them (say, whether or not God is murdered), the more dignity those beings will have in virtue of the fact that the consequence in question is up to them.

Angra Mainyu said...

Richard:

I wasn't trying to defend the problem of evil here, but that aside, I have some comments about your other points:

You say that if A "ultimately" goes right, then for all eternity, A's going right is up-to-A. But I don't see why that would not be so for B.
For example, let's say (in the rest of this post) that Alice is on Earth, and makes right choices, and goes to heaven, whereas Bob dies as a newborn and goes directly to heaven. By your description, it seems whether to insult God, or Alice, etc., is not up to Bob - he just does not have the ability to do that. But why not?
After all, in heaven, if Alice has the ability to insult God or Bob (for example), there seems to be no good reason why Bob would not have the ability to insult Alice or God as well. He just will never do it, but the same goes for Alice: she will never do it.
In other words: if heaven does not remove the free will to behave immorally from people who go to heaven after being on Earth, why would heaven be such that people who go there not have free will in the first place?

You say: "Unless they have freedom, everything they do will be up-to-God rather than up to them."
I'm not sure why it couldn't be up to someone else with freedom, but that's a minor issue:

"So if A is a created being, the only way A can get any sort of up-to-A-ness which is comparable to God's up-to-Godness is as follows: if God creates A in such a manner as to leave it undetermined whether A will gain or forego a certain property."

I don't think that follows. You seem to be implying that if A is free to choose X or ¬X at time t in W, there is a world W1 with the same past as W at which A chooses X, and a world W2 with the same past as W at which she chooses ¬X (PAP)
But that would entail that Alice has no freedom in heaven.
On the other hand, let's say you're not implying PAP.
Then, why can't Bob have freedom in heaven, even if he was never on Earth first?

"This seems to be a reason why we should NOT anticipate that all free beings made by God would fail to sin. They must have the ability to sin if when they don't sin, their not-sinning is to be at all up-to-them. But if enough beings are created with the ability to sin, then it's very likely that some would do it. (An ability to sin which gives no appreciable odds of actually sinning does not seem to be much of an ability and does not generate much up-to-selfness. For example, I suppose I strictly speaking have the ability to quantum tunnel through walls, but I don't think much of this super-low-odds ability and I don't feel that my not-quantum-tunneling-through-walls is very up-to-me.)"
Why would an ability to sin which gives no appreciable odds of actually sinning does not seem to be much of an ability and does not generate much up-to-selfness?
You said earlier that what God does is up to God even if what God does is necessary. So, it's up to God whether to create people in an eternal torture chamber, even though necessarily, he won't, and even though there are no appreciable odds of God's sinning.

We may consider a human person in heaven instead of God. Once Alice is in heaven, there are no appreciable odds that she will insult God, or Bob, etc. Yet, she has freedom - you said earlier it's up to her whether to go right, for eternity.

Angra Mainyu said...

Richard:

"However: if a created being who does not have to make good choices does, in fact, develop a moral habit by making a number of good free choices, and then that moral habit forever thereafter ensures that the being in question ONLY makes good choices, then from that point on the being no longer needs the ability to sin in order for its not-sinning to continue to be up-to-that-being."
Let's say that at W3 (a world very much like the actual world, assuming Christianity for the sake of the argument) José is 35, and makes mostly good choices. However, José is not morally perfect, and he fails sometimes - as all humans do.
So, he develops a habit of making good free choices, so he mostly makes good choices - which you get on Earth, in practice -, but as long as José remains on Earth, regardless of habits, one can expect him to go wrong sometimes.
But then at t0, when José is 35, Adolf freely murders José, and José goes to heaven. Then, José never sins again. Now, despite his habit, he would have continued to do evil sometimes on Earth. So, if by "ensures" you mean that it "causally determines", then his habit does not ensure he only makes good choices.
If by "ensures" you mean that in all possible worlds with the same past up to the point at which he developed his habit, José will make only good choices, then that implies that in all possible worlds with the same past up to the time at which he develops the habit, he'll only make good choices. But that is false too - because he continued to make some bad choices until he was murdered, and even after developing the habit -, unless he developed the habit at some time between his last bad choice and the moment he was murdered, which doesn't need to be the case.

In short, on Christianity, people in heaven do not sin, but their not sinning is not always or generally ensured by a previous habit that they developed.

If you mean something else by "ensures", I would ask what you mean.
But there is a further difficulty:

"All the being's not-sinning in the future will continue to be up-to-that-being, because its not-sinning continually results from its moral habit which, in turn, results from past actions which were up-to-that-being. If X results from Y and Y is up-to-A, then this is (in many cases) a way for X to be up-to-A as well."
Actually, if he no longer has the ability to - say - insult God, it's no longer up to him whether to insult God. For example, it's up to Adolf whether to, say, write a letter. But if he freely chooses to cut off both his hands (using a machine or whatever) and succeeds, then it's no longer up to him whether to write. He lost that ability. The fact that it resulted from a previous choice does not entail he's still making choices.

Angra Mainyu said...

Richard:

Another example:
Adolf is a bad man, and has a habit of doing bad things. In particular, he murdered José (previous example), and he's going to be executed for it. But before he dies, he sincerely repents and converts to Christianity, and goes to Heaven. Then, he never sins again, but he never developed a habit of doing the right thing.
If you're a Catholic, we need a Purgatory modification, but still: he confesses, goes to Purgatory, and then we have some questions.
1. Is it possible that people sin in Purgatory?
1. Do they have the ability to sin?
Those are two very different questions, and I would wait for your answer before I go any further (after all, you might or might not believe in Purgatory, and I don't want to do this too long), but in any case, in Purgatory, it's impossible that Adolf mortally sins, even though he didn't develop a habit of not sinning mortally before death.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Quick thought: It's not necessary for freedom, or at least for responsibility, that one's inability to do otherwise be due to a *habit* one developed. Suppose I pay a neurologist to instill in me a habit that makes it impossible for me to fail to kill those who insult me. Then I am just as responsible as in a case where I developed the habit by a sequence of vicious and free acts, as long as I acted freely when I paid the neurologist. Similarly, if I paid a therapist to make killing psychologically impossible for me, I am responsible for refraining from killing.

I suppose derivative freedom requires that the inability to do otherwise have come from some action that I am responsible for and that is connected in the right way to the inability. I don't have an account of that "in the right way" connection, but it is plausible that a connection between repentence of a sin and an inability, in purgatory or heaven, to commit that sin could well be the right kind of connection.

Angra Mainyu said...

Alex:

I agree that it's not necessary for freedom or for responsibility that one's ability to do otherwise is due to a habit. I addressed habit because I was addressing Richard's arguments.

That aside, I don't think there is derivative freedom.
For example, let's say that Jack and Abe both pay the neurologist. Jack goes on to kill 10 people before he's forcibly stopped and arrested. Abe is forcibly stopped before there are any victims. Who is more guilty, counting all of their actions? I think they're equally so, unless of course Jack still had the further choice to turn himself in before killing 1, 2, 3, etc., but he chose not to. Here, the scenario is underspecified in a relevant way: Does the neurologist supress all freedom on the matter?

For example, suppose Jaime and Pedro pay the neurologist so that they lose all freedom, and become only capable of this: they grab a knife, and start killing as many people as they can. If they do that, they're equally guilty regardless of how many they end up killing, in my view. Let's say that Jaime gets an implant that works as planned, but Pedro's implant malfunctions and he is not affected.
Then, they both go on to kill 10 random people before they get killed. Who is more guilty? I would say Pedro: they both made the choice to become killer drones and they're equally guilty (assuming all other things equal), but Pedro is also guilty for each of the random people he later chose to murder.
Even if you disagree with that and think they're equally guilty (what's your take on that?), Pedro is still free to choose, whereas Jaime is no longer free to choose, so at least there is a difference in terms of freedom. In other words, even if Jaime has derivative guilt, he does not have derivative freedom. Jaime's freedom is gone, whereas Pedro's isn't.

As for derivative responsibility, I think they're responsible but because of their original choice. For example: Jaime pays the neurologist as before. Marco instead pays to make a machine that will go around knifing people to death at a rate similar to a human, while he will be restrained. Then Jaime then kills 10 people, the machine kills 10 people (before it's destroyed, etc.). I think they're both equally guilty, responsible to pay compensation, etc. I'd say any derivative responsibility does not come from some derivative freedom, as it doesn't in the case of Marco, where the machine does the killing. It's just their responsibility resulting for their previous free choice.

"I don't have an account of that "in the right way" connection, but it is plausible that a connection between repentence of a sin and an inability, in purgatory or heaven, to commit that sin could well be the right kind of connection."

But if it's like those scenarios, I would say that freedom is lost. It's no longer up to them what to do.

Richard Davis said...

Angra:

The mcguffin in my theory is not freedom, but up-to-selfness. I don't think that having the ability to not-do-X is in general a requirement for having the freedom to do X. Instead there are cases where a being has the freedom to do X even though she does not have the ability to not-do-X. So even if the people who arrive in heaven totally lack the ability to sin, this fact does not preclude their possession of the freedom to not-sin. Both Bob and Alice as you've described them can freely do the right thing in heaven, even though neither of them (once they get to heaven) any longer has the ability to not-do-the-right-thing.

If this picture is right, then what Alice has in heaven, but Bob lacks, is not freedom to do what is right (both Alice and Bob have that), but rather the property of being such that her doing right is up to her. Alice has that, but Bob lacks it.

I agree with your example about Adolf: There is a perfectly natural use, perhaps the most natural use, of the phrase '... is up to Adolf' on which after Adolf divests himself of his hands, it is never again up to Adolf whether he writes a letter --- not even if he intentionally lost his hands in order to forever after forego writing letters. I may have been using the predicate '... is up to ...' imprecisely so far, even above in this very post. Let me be more careful:

What Alice has but Bob lacks is the property of it having been up to her that she does not sin in heaven. Put a different way, she but not Bob has the property of being such that at some point in time it is up to her whether or not she ever sins in heaven. This is the property Alice needs in order to resemble God in the appropriate way.

I'm also on the same page (I think) about habits. I framed the theory in terms of habits for the sake of conciseness, but I don't think the thing that causally guarantees that a person in heaven no longer sins needs to be a habit in particular. For instance, I think John may enter into the right sort of relationship with Christ on the basis of actions John perform prior to his death which are, at the time John performs them, up to John. Thereafter, at or after the point of John's death, the existence of this relationship between John and Christ, together with some other condition which changes for John at or after dying (e.g., the fact of John's coming face-to-face with Christ), is what causally guarantees that John will never sin again. Something like 'faith in' (in the rich, biblical sense) or 'love for' (perhaps expressed as love for fellow human beings, especially if John is someone who has never heard of Christ) might be the relationship to Christ which does the causal work. I suspect this sort of relationship will usually result in a radical change in John once the other condition (the one that changes after death) comes into play.

Perhaps this is a good point for me to comment that I don't actually think the odds of sinning once one gets to heaven are strictly zero. Rather, I think the odds of mortal sin after entering heaven are astronomically low and, moreover, decrease asymptotically to zero throughout eternity. This doesn't much affect the structure of my argument, as far as I can tell (just interpret my uses of "causally guarantees X" to mean "causes an astronomically low and asymptotically decreasing objective probability of not-X"). But this point about low-but-nonzero probabilities does, in my opinion, affect the overall plausibility of the theory of Christian heaven. I disbelieve in most absolute discontinuities in nature. A shift from a probability greater than zero of sinning to a probability of zero of sinning would (I suspect) be the sort of absolute discontinuity in which I tend to disbelieve.

"Why would an ability to sin which gives no appreciable odds of actually sinning not seem to be much of an ability and not generate much up-to-selfness?"

Richard Davis said...

I think Alice's having original causal responsibility for her doing X is a necessary condition for it's being up to Alice that she does X. I also think that if something causally independent of Alice causally brings about a sufficiently high objective probability of Y's not obtaining, it follows that Alice lacks original causal responsibility for Y's not happening. Therefore if something causally independent of Alice causally brings about a sufficiently high objective probability of Alice's not sinning, then it is not up to Alice that Alice does not sin. Since Alice is created, whatever sets the odds of her not-sinning (I mean, the odds as they stand at the time of her creation) is causally independent of Alice. So if at the time of her creation, the odds of Alice not-sinning are sufficiently high, then it is not up to Alice that Alice does not sin. (I am using 'odds' and 'objective probability' interchangeably here.)

I think the properties of causal responsibility and up-to-ness come in degrees. Hence, as long as the odds of Alice's not-sinning are not set, at the time of her creation, at exactly 1, then Alice may still be originally casually responsible to some degree for her not sinning, and her not sinning might still be to some degree up to Alice. But if the odds are set at very nearly 1, then these degrees will be very low.

In such a case, I would affirm that Alice's not-sinning was up to Alice to some degree and yet that it was not up to Alice. I don't take this to be a contradiction. I think the phrases '... is causally responsible for ...' and '... is up to her that ...', without the appendation 'to some degree', only apply to cases where the corresponding degree of causal responsibility or up-to-herness is sufficiently high. By the same token, I grant that Pluto's gravitational pull on me during the footrace was to some degree responsible for my acceleration toward the finish line --- which conveniently lay in the same direction as Pluto. However, I deny that Pluto's pull caused my acceleration. Likewise, I grant that my efforts at running were not wholly causally responsible for my acceleration in the race --- you gotta factor Pluto in there too! --- but I still affirm that my efforts at running were causally responsible for my acceleration. This is a mundane example of 'causally responsible to some degree, but not causally responsible' and the reverse.

If this theory of language is wrong (and I grant that it might be), then whatever is the right thing to say about Pluto is what the theory should be taken to say about Alice. Or, instead, we could just come out and say that it is important that we humans have a large degree of up-to-selfness with respect to not-sinning and that this is why are odds of not-sinning must not, at the time of our creations, be very nearly 1.

"You said earlier that what God does is up to God even if what God does is necessary. So, it's up to God whether to create people in an eternal torture chamber, even though necessarily, he won't, and even though there are no appreciable odds of God's sinning."

For the very reason you suggest, I'm not sure if it is up to God whether to create people in an eternal torture chamber: it's metaphysically impossible that He do so, and I don't know whether it can be up to X whether X does something it is metaphysically impossible for X to do. So I'm not sure whether it is up to God whether God sins. But I do say that it is up to God that God does not sin. God's not-sinning is up to God even though there are not, and never have been, any appreciable odds of God's sinning.

Richard Davis said...

By contrast, Alice needs at some point to have enjoyed sufficiently high odds of sinning in order for her not-sinning ever to be up to her. This is a difference between Alice and God. Alice needs to have, at some time, nonzero odds of sinning in order for Alice ever to not-sin up-to-herly; but God doesn't need to have, at any time, nonzero odds of sinning in order for God to not-sin up-to-Godly. On my view this difference between God and Alice results from the fact that nothing causally independent of God causally sets the odds of God's not-sinning, whereas something causally independent of Alice does causally set the odds of Alice's not-sinning. The independent odds-setter blocks the up-to-selfness for Alice, but there is no independent odds-setter to block the up-to-selfness for God.

"Once Alice is in heaven, there are no appreciable odds that she will insult God, or Bob, etc. Yet, she has freedom - you said earlier it's up to her whether to go right, for eternity."

This is another place where my imprecise use of the phrase 'up to Alice' is causing trouble. Strictly speaking, once Alice gets to heaven, it is no longer up to her that she does not ever sin in heaven. However, she is still --- even in heaven --- such that it was at some time up to her that she does not ever sin in heaven. That's what's needed for the (more precisely stated) version of the theory.

I apologize if I've overlooked any aspects of your response, Angra. If I did, would you point them out to me? It's a rare pleasure for me to participate in this sort of discussion.

Angra Mainyu said...

Richard:

Thanks for the clarification.
Also for the sake of clarity, I'd like to say:
- While I'm a compatibilist about freedom and determinism (causal or any other usual variety), and also about power (or ability, in your terminology) and determinism, I'll assume for the sake of the argument any version of incompatibilism you pick. Based on what you said now, it seems to me you're an incompatibilist with respect to power/ability and causal determinism - e.g., you seem to imply that if I'm causally determined to write this post, then I don't have the power/ability not to write it -, but please let me know if I got the type of incompatibilism wrong.

- I don't know there is any non-epistemic probability - I only use probability in an epistemic sense, unless the terms are precisely defined within a theory, or I'm assessing someone else's argument -, but if I'm getting this right, you're talking about some sort of probabilistic causation. I'd be inclined to talk about "causal probability" in that context, but you call it "objective probability", so I'll go with that.

- If I don't qualify my probabilistic statements, I'm talking about epistemic probability, under the assumptions I'm making (i.e., theism, Christianity, incompatibilism, etc.). Else, I will say "objective probability".

"But this point about low-but-nonzero probabilities does, in my opinion, affect the overall plausibility of the theory of Christian heaven. I disbelieve in most absolute discontinuities in nature. A shift from a probability greater than zero of sinning to a probability of zero of sinning would (I suspect) be the sort of absolute discontinuity in which I tend to disbelieve."
I'm assuming incompatibilism, Christianity, etc., for the sake of the argument, so this isn't an issue for me. But I have some questions about the non-zero objective probability that Bob sins in heaven.
1. Does it follow from a nonzero objective probability that there is a possible world with the same past as Bob's, at which Bob sins in heaven?
2. Suppose the universe has infinitely many galaxies. Then, there are (almost certainly; i.e., extremely probably) infinitely many lost embryos. In fact, there are almost certainly infinitely many embryos that are genetic clones of each other and are lost at the same time after conception. They go to heaven, so that's infinitely many Bobs. It would seem very improbable that given two of those (say, Bob1 and Bob3495395!!!!), the objective probability that the latter would sin would be over a googleplex greater than the objective probability that the first would. Wouldn't that entail that the objective probability that at least one of them sins is very high, if not 1? (I guess it depends on your dependencies, but I don't see why they would depend on each other).
Would you conclude, on that basis, that it's very probable that either the universe is finite, or there is sin in heaven?
3. Your point suggest you reject also changes from zero probability to non-zero probability. If so, do you think experiences in heaven will repeat themselves infinitely many times, or memories will be lost?
I'm asking this question because otherwise, it seems to me eventually in heaven people will have experiences (or numbers of true beliefs, etc.) that have objective probability zero on Earth, if there is such objective probability.

"I think Alice's having original causal responsibility for her doing X is a necessary condition for it's being up to Alice that she does X. I also think that if something causally independent of Alice causally brings about a sufficiently high objective probability of Y's not obtaining, it follows that Alice lacks original causal responsibility for Y's not happening."
Thanks for explaining your view (as a compatibilist, I don't share that view, but I'm granting that for the sake of the argument).

Angra Mainyu said...

"This is another place where my imprecise use of the phrase 'up to Alice' is causing trouble. Strictly speaking, once Alice gets to heaven, it is no longer up to her that she does not ever sin in heaven. However, she is still --- even in heaven --- such that it was at some time up to her that she does not ever sin in heaven. That's what's needed for the (more precisely stated) version of the theory."
Thanks for clarifying. If I got it right, it seems to me that:

1. Alice resembled God in that it was up to her that she sinned or didn't sin. But in heaven, she lost that. It's no longer up to her - even though she is still such that it was up some time up to her that she does not ever sin in heaven. On the other hand, it's always up to God that he does not sin. But let's say in some world W, Adam and Eve never sinned. Then, it's still up to them that they never sin. So, their resemblance to God in that regard was not lost - unlike Alice's.
So, it seems that the world as originally intended would have resulted in people with greater resemblance to God than heaven, at least with regard to up-to-selfness (which you consider very important). Would then God never have turned Eden into heaven if no one had sinned?
2. Your theory you hold has the implication that all of the embryos and fetuses that go to heaven (assuming they do go) have an imperfect resemblance of God, and so do But that probably makes up most of heaven's population (between 30% and 50% of naturally fertilized human embryos are accidentally lost) if it's finite (or at least, no less than 30% is everyone goes to heaven), and infinitely many people if it's not. One has to add people who die as newborns, toddlers, etc. So, that would be a lot of heavenly imperfect resemblance. Am I getting that part right? Or do you not agree that they all go to heaven?

"I apologize if I've overlooked any aspects of your response, Angra. If I did, would you point them out to me? It's a rare pleasure for me to participate in this sort of discussion."
You didn't overlook anything important, thank you for your thorough reply, and it's a pleasure for me as well. :)

Richard Davis said...

Hello Angra:

"Based on what you said now, it seems to me you're an incompatibilist with respect to power/ability and causal determinism - e.g., you seem to imply that if I'm causally determined to write this post, then I don't have the power/ability not to write it -, but please let me know if I got the type of incompatibilism wrong."

I think that on one natural sense of the word 'ability,' no one has the ability to do something they are causally predetermined not to do. I grant, though, that there are other natural senses of 'ability' on which that doesn't hold. E.g., suppose I'm causally predetermined now to not speak French (a language I don't currently know). Still, I right now have the ability to speak French, in the sense that I am intrinsically the sort of being who can (under the right conditions) speak French.

I think there's ability-sub1 and then there's ability-sub2 and maybe some others as well. It seems to me that the right stance is incompatibilism about ability-sub1 (thus, if I'm causally predetermined not to speak French, then I lack the ability to speak French) combined with compatibilism about ability-sub2 (thus, I might have the ability to speak French even if I’m causally predetermined never to do so). Each instance of the word 'ability' I've used so far in outlining my theory about up-to-selfness should be read as referring to ability-sub1, never ability-sub2.

This is of some theoretical significance. If there *are* two different sorts of ability, each of which is the referent of the word 'ability' on some natural use, then you and I (as a compatibilist and an incompatibilist, respectively, about ability) may not be disagreeing. To help sort this out: Would you say it can be up to you that you do X, even in a world where you are causally predetermined (by something causally independent of you) to do X? Or would you take such causal predetermination to rule out up-to-youness for that action?

About objective probability: I'm not sure how it would affect the up-to-selfness theory if it did turn out that there is no such thing. But for what it's worth, I take the objective probability of P given Q to be the limit of the ratio of the number of partitions of possible worlds in which P&Q and the number of partitions of possible worlds in which Q, as both the maximum allowed number of primitive syntactic parts in the vocabulary, and also the maximum allowed syntactic complexity of each proposition composed exhaustively from that vocabulary, which are allowed to be used to draw these partitions increases to infinity. At each finite stage as the ‘number allowed’ continues to approach infinity, you get just as many partitions of possible worlds as the propositions you're allowed to work with --- given the finite constraints on vocabulary and complexity --- are able distinguish among. This number of partitions of worlds is always finite at every finite stage, since you're always restricted to a finite vocabulary of primitives to draw from and a finite total number of primitives you can draw to compose each of the distinguishing propositions. Despite this stubborn finitude, we can deal with the infinitely fine-grained structure of the space of all possible worlds, by taking the limit as these finite constraints approach infinity. Of course, the language in which all this is done must be non-arbitrary and 'metaphysically perspicuous' in order to handle blue-grue problems.

It's also my view that objective probabilities are the probabilities of quantum collapses as given by a correct theory of physics. That is to say, I think the probabilities given for quantum collapses by a correct theory of physics will in fact turn out to be the very limits I just defined (whether or not the quantum mechanic who figures out the correct physics realizes that this is what they are --- although, if she solved physics, she's a very smart gal, so I figure she will realize!).

Richard Davis said...

1a. Wait -- is Bob the guy who never has the ability to sin? If so, then no, there's no past-matching world in which Bob sins in heaven, but that's because there's a zero objective probability that he ever sins. But if Bob has nonzero objective odds of sinning in heaven (even once he gets there), then yes, there is a past-matching world in which Bob successfully sins in heaven. It's just a very unlikely world since the odds of his sinning are so low.

2a. The question about infinitely many Bobs (Alices?) is difficult, mostly because I don't know enough about physics. Maybe no one does. I'm no physicist and don't pretend to be. What follows is speculation.

Here's what I think, though. I suspect that everything outside of my lightcone is, with respect to me, in a superposition of all the states it possibly could be in given all the intrinsic properties of everything there is within my lightcone.

This makes it tricky to talk about, say, what's happening on Mars right now. Mars-right-now isn't in my lightcone. There are cases, though, where system Y's quantum state at time t with respect to observer X yields a very high probability that if Y were to be observed by X at t, Y’s state would immediately collapse into phi with respect to X. I think this holds even in some cases where at t Y is in a superposition of phi and not-phi. My view is that in these cases, at t Y is in phi with respect to X. Very high probability of counterfactual collapse into phi materially implies phi.

If this is true, then there are things that are true with respect to me right now about what’s happening on Mars right now. Quite a lot of truths, actually, right down to facts about current Martian weather. Mars's weather hasn't had time to 'diffuse out' into a highly indeterminate superposition since the last time its superposition collapsed with respect to me into some fairly definite state. Mars is only a few light minutes away, after all. Just a few minutes ago, it and I interacted.

What follows it that its overall weather-state currently is in a superposition with respect to me, but this superposition is not very broad. It is only slightly indeterminate. As a result, it yields objective probabilities of almost 1 for many fairly precise propositions about the current Martian weather. These probability-almost-1 propositions are, right now, simply true with respect to me, even though right now they are not absolutely-definitely true. (For absolutely definite truth, we’d need probability 1.)

The same goes not just for Mars, but for anything that's at any distance at all from me now --- including, say, the brain of a friend to whom I am talking while sitting two inches away. The spatially closer the object is to me, the more determinate the facts about that object will be, since their states will have had less time to diffuse into broad superpositions since the last time they collapsed with respect to me when we interacted.

On this view, the trickiness with the infinite Bobs and galaxies results from the fact that the longer it has been since something was last in my current lightcone, the more diffuse its superposition with respect to me currently is. Things outside my observable universe have NEVER been in my lightcone. So their superpositions with respect to me are as perfectly diverse as the age of the universe allows them to be, given the intrinsic properties of all the things that are in my lightcone.

Richard Davis said...

What it comes to is that to answer your question about whether there are infinitely many lost embryos, I need to answer the prior question of whether all the current intrinsic facts about my lightcone yield a sufficiently high probability that there are infinitely many lost embryos. If I could be sure that there was no time-backwards causation, I'd answer --- pretty confidently --- that yes, there are infinitely many lost embryos. After all, the universe is infinitely big. From this I think the conclusion would follow (as you point out) that there is a probability of 1 that at least one of those embryos sins in heaven (assuming that they all go there).

However, quantum entanglement seems to me to suggest that there is timebackwards causation going on, constantly, at the very edge of my ever-expanding light cone. As often as a new physical system first enters into my light cone, it becomes at that very moment entangled with me; and therefore there's some sort of weird causal correlation between my state and its state. My worry is that this causal correlation may make trouble when we start thinking about Bob's or Jesus's lightcones. The laws of nature might guarantee that beings sufficiently similar to Bob have their behavior affected in certain quantum-entangly ways by Bob's behavior. Or the fact that Jesus became a human being, died, rose and ascended might have some sort of drastic salutary impact on all events everywhere the first time they become quantum entangled with Jesus's actions by entering into his lightcone --- an impact, say, which makes it less and less likely, as time goes forward, that any of those newly entangled events will involve sin.

These timey-wimey concerns render it epistemically possible for me that there don't turn out to be infinitely many Bobs, not even if there are infinitely many galaxies, and it’s also epistemically possible that all the other Bobs behave quite differently from our Bob even if there are infinitely many others Bobs. This might, for all I know, lead to low probability that any Bob in an infinite universe ever sins.

But I think your conclusion about probability 1 sin-by-some-Bob follows, modulo these concerns.

3a. In answering your question about experiences repeating themselves infinitely or memories being lost in heaven, it would help me to consider a particular example. (I'm not sure I currently see the connection between those proposals and people having experiences in heaven which would have probability 0 on earth.) Could you offer an example?

About your second post:

1b. I think Eden necessarily turns into heaven, at least for Adam and Eve, if they continually don't-sin up-to-themly. So I think one aspect of their resemblance to God is necessarily lost over time. I don't think this should be concerning, because necessarily whenever anything changes at all, it loses some semblance to God which it previously had. For instance, whenever I feel compassion for a friend, I resemble God with respect to feeling compassion for him. But I stop feeling compassion for my friend as soon as I get engrossed in some other mentally focused activity, or when I go to sleep that night. At this point, unavoidably, I lose a semblance to God (the semblance of feeling compassion) which I used to have.

Richard Davis said...

So I think it's natural and necessary that many of the semblances to God we have at one time are lost at later times. But this is not a bad thing. Adam and Eve, for instance, will get other better semblances to God later on to take the place of the ones they eventually lose. An example: I think that for a person in heaven, it will be largely up to her how rapidly she increases in God-likeness. She is only free to love --- once in heaven, (thank God!) she cannnot not-love (oh! the freedom this entails!) --- but for any given time in heaven, there is a range of (all very high) degrees of love such that it is at that time up to her with which degree of love within that range she loves. The greater the degree to which she up-to-herly loves within this range, the more rapidly, as a result, she will thereafter tend to continue to increase in God-likeness. Her degrees of love and degrees of increase in God-likeness, both of which are at this point up to her, will be so high as to have been unavailable to her before when she was still in Eden. Therefore, even though upon entering heaven, she loses all up-to-herness with respect to whether or not she would ever enter heaven, she gains some other, better up-to-hernesses which she could never have previously enjoyed. I'd say this more than makes up for the ones she lost. On the whole there’s a net gain in value.

The beauty of a bud is not --- and should not be --- the beauty of rose. It loses its budness to become a flower.

2a. I don't know what happens to organisms which die as embryos or fetuses. Let's suppose that for each and every one of them, God takes it to heaven and ensures (with probability almost 1) that it never sins. If that's so, then yes, such embryos and fetuses lack --- and will forever lack --- a certain mode of God-likeness which many other beings have. Namely, the property of it ever having been up to them whether they enter heaven.

This is more troubling than the fact that Adam and Eve eventually lose their up-to-selfness with respect to entering heaven, because while Adam and Eve were intended eventually to lose their up-to-selfness in this respect (buds are intended to stop being buds), it is presumably not intended that these fetuses should die before being born. A miscarriage is an evil (perhaps not a moral evil, but an evil in the sense of ‘something very bad’). So it seems that, plausibly, a stillborn fetus's eternal non-possession of it-having-been-up-to-selfness is a consequent evil which results from the prior evil of its stillbirth.

My guess is that these fetuses (assuming they are in heaven) will receive some other good in place of the having-been-up-to-selfness which they unfortunately forever forego. This guess seems to follow the pattern suggested by Christ in describing the immense blessings that will come eschatologically to those who presently suffer. (“Blessed are the poor . . . ”) If I suffer now, I lose a good which I will never get back: the good of not-having-suffered-now. But by Jesus’s guarantee, some other good eventually comes to me in return.

Richard Davis said...

I don't say that the good the fetuses receive will be a better good than the one they must lose to get it. Here my thoughts are very tentative. I think probably the compensating eternal goods a sufferer receives as a causal result of having suffered are usually incommensurable (across the scope of eternity) with the eternal goods he forever foregoes through having suffered. I think this is because (a) in comparing different goods across eternity, we're comparing infinities --- so math says ouch! --- and (b) I think that which set of goods will be greater at a given time will vary chaotically throughout all eternity, so that we can't say the better goods are the ones which are greater than the others at every temporal point. The limit of the ratio of the sufferer’s goods to the non-sufferer’s goods at time t as t approaches infinity is undefined. As a consequence of this, I take it to be rationally obligatory to prefer to protect someone from suffering over permitting them to suffer not on the grounds that the overall expected utility (across eternity) of not-suffering is greater than that of suffering (instead, that ratio is undefined), but rather on something like the grounds that the relevant ratio for the humanly foreseeable future favors the expected utility of not-suffering over suffering.

Oh, something else: I think semblance to God is a very great, and causally productive, good. I also think, though, that whatever properties make for semblance to God (say, up-to-selfness) are also good for their own sakes, not just for the sake of the semblance. For instance, I am happy to possess the property of it having been up to me that certain goods took place in my sisters' lives. This is one of the things I like about myself, and that liking seems to give evidence that my possession of this property has intrinsic value. Likewise in cases where I am grateful to someone now for something they did in the past which was up to them when they did it: it is currently a matter of importance (and value) that in the past they up-to-themly did something kind for me.

Angra Mainyu said...

Hello Richard

Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

Regarding two types of ability, that's interesting. I don't know whether there are two, but it seems to me that even if there are two, we would be disagreeing on the matter, because assuming there are two concepts, my take on the matter would be that sub-1 ability is not the relevant one, with regard to matters of moral responsibility, guilt, freedom, etc.

However, I don't think that's much of a difficulty, since I'm willing to grant your type of incompatibilism for the sake of the argument - I just want to hear about (and maybe test a little bit, but not so much ;)) your theory about heaven.

"To help sort this out: Would you say it can be up to you that you do X, even in a world where you are causally predetermined (by something causally independent of you) to do X? Or would you take such causal predetermination to rule out up-to-youness for that action?"
Yes, I would say it's up to me.
In my view, the fact that something else in the past causes me (deterministically or not) to intend to bring about Z does not affect that, as long as I can (and do) bring about Z if I intend to, and I wouldn't bring it about if I intended not to.

In re: objective probability:

I'm afraid I would need a lot more time to address your intriguing theory properly. Off the top of my head, my two main concerns would be the existence of such a limit, and (assuming it does), the issue of whether it captures some natural language talk about probability. For example, assuming that the partitions, etc., are all well-defined, propositions like "Water is composed of H2O" would have probability one, even if in our usual talk, if we didn't know that, we would be doing experiments (well, someone would), and assessing whether it's probable, not probable, etc.
But that's a preliminary concern. I don't think there is any obvious problem. In any case, I will assume you're correct and there is such probability.

Personally, if there is such probability, I would be inclined to call it something like "ontological" probability, rather than "objective" probability.
That's a minor quibble, but I think the use of the term "objective" gives the impression that epistemic probability (or others, if there are others) is not objective.
While I think epistemic probability is subjective in the sense that the proper epistemic probabilistic assignment depends on the information available to a subject (and the priors, in my view), for that matter, the morally proper behavior also is subjective in the sense that it depends on factors such as the information available to the subject assessing how to behave. But I wouldn't think that makes either morality or epistemic probability not objective in a natural and very important sense of the term "objective", namely that there is an objective fact of the matter (in the natural sense of that expression) as to what the correct epistemic probabilistic assignment is (or what the morally proper behavior(s) is (are)).
Factoring in some variation and some vagueness, given that all humans are cognitively similar, I think that epistemic probability gives us a reasonably good way of discussing the sort of probability that we (I think) usually talk about.
So, I prefer the expressions "ontological probability" and "epistemic probability".
But it's your theory, so I'll go with "objective probability" (when I don't qualify my probabilistic assessments, they're epistemic).

Angra Mainyu said...

"It's also my view that objective probabilities are the probabilities of quantum collapses as given by a correct theory of physics. That is to say, I think the probabilities given for quantum collapses by a correct theory of physics will in fact turn out to be the very limits I just defined (whether or not the quantum mechanic who figures out the correct physics realizes that this is what they are --- although, if she solved physics, she's a very smart gal, so I figure she will realize!)"
I'm not sure she'd realize (but you could tell her!), but on that note, if a deterministic interpretation of (a modified) QM were correct, would that entail that the objective probability of anything given the past and physics is either 1 or 0? Or am I getting this wrong?

"1a. Wait -- is Bob the guy who never has the ability to sin? If so, then no, there's no past-matching world in which Bob sins in heaven, but that's because there's a zero objective probability that he ever sins. But if Bob has nonzero objective odds of sinning in heaven (even once he gets there), then yes, there is a past-matching world in which Bob successfully sins in heaven. It's just a very unlikely world since the odds of his sinning are so low."
Bob died as a newborn. But there was a nonzero probability that he would behave immorally, since there was a non-zero probability that he would grow up and then sin.

But that aside, that's a surprising answer!
So far, I hadn't encountered any Christians who held that immoral behavior in heaven was metaphysically possible.
Also, given your answer, I would have to conclude that in some extremely unlikely possible world, he not only sins, but sins mortally in heaven, for the same reason.

"2a. The question about infinitely many Bobs (Alices?) is difficult, mostly because I don't know enough about physics. Maybe no one does. I'm no physicist and don't pretend to be. What follows is speculation."
That's fascinating speculation. I apologize for not giving it a more thorough reply, but would it capture the "modulo these concerns" properly to say that your assessment - albeit tentative - is that one of the following disjuncts is (probably) true:

Q1: It's not the case that there are infinitely many galaxies.
Q2: There is time-backwards causation.
Q3: There is an objective probability of 1 that at least one person sins (or sins mortally) in heaven.

Regarding heaven and Eden, thanks for explaining your view. I was asking about losing resemblance to God in that particular respect (i.e., whether that you don't sin is up to you), because I got the impression that you considered that a particularly important respect, but I see you don't find that one troubling (by the way, do you think Adam and Eve would have remained married in heaven?)

Going back to the original topic of the thread and the question of reproduction in heaven, it seems to me that if embryos, etc., might get other compensating goods in heaven, then maybe you can't rule out further reproduction in heaven.

Thanks again for addressing my questions so thoroughly. There is just one more I'd like to ask: do you think the same experiences are repeated infinitely many times in heaven?
Otherwise, it seems to me people would have experiences that have probability zero here on Earth. Or do you think that there are arbitrarily complex experiences with positive probability?

Richard Davis said...

Hi Angra:

I like your considerations about the phrase 'objective probability.' I think I'll follow your lead in calling it 'ontological probability' from now on.

"... if a deterministic interpretation of (a modified) QM were correct, would that entail that the objective probability of anything given the past and physics is either 1 or 0?"

Depends. We can express the ontological probability of P given Q as op(P/Q). Suppose I take you to mean "Does the thesis that true physics is deterministic entail that for any proposition P describing a time in the future of event E, op(P/(E & physics)) is either 1 or 0?" Then the answer is yes, since if physics is deterministic and P is in the future of E, then (E&physics) either logically entails P or logically entails ~P. If Q logically entails P, op(P/Q) = 1, and mutatis mutandi when Q logically entails ~P.

Suppose instead I take you to mean "Does the thesis that true physics is deterministic entail that [...] op(P/E) is either 1 or 0?" This is a different question, since now merely E, not (E&physics) is in the probability base. The answer depends, so far as I can tell, on (a) which we're asking about in the question's antecedent, a physics that is true in some world w or else the actually true physics, (b) whether a deterministic physics is merely one which for every allowable past materially implies a certain future --- call this a predictively deterministic physics --- or whether a deterministic physics is additionally one such that (if it is true) some sort of necessary connection links the past to its prescribed future --- call this a necessitatingly deterministic physics--- (c) what sort of necessary connection between past and future that might be, (d) whether we're only considering metaphysically possible worlds or some other sorts of worlds as well (say, some metaphysically impossible worlds that allow for necessitatingly deterministic physics), and (e) whether the accessibility relation among these worlds where is transitive.

These possibilities are so multifarious that they make my head spin. I think I'll answer briefly by saying that if it turns out that there is any metaphysically possible world whose physics is deterministic, then I am wrong in believing that ontological probability (as I have defined it in terms of limits) has much of anything to do with the sort of probability which English-speakers normally call 'probability'.

"I would have to conclude that in some extremely unlikely possible world, he not only sins, but sins mortally in heaven, for the same reason."

This seems right. What's doing the work here is my view that nonzero probabilities almost never turn into zero probabilities.

Even on my view where there's always a nonzero probability that another mortal sin will occur, I think there still may be a probability of 1 that eventually there will be no more mortal sins, i.e., that some mortal sin will be the last one. (This might require the sort of quantum-entangly backwards causation at the edge of our lightcones that I described in the last series of posts.) So we might argue thus: that it doesn't really count as heaven until the last mortal sin has happened. But there'd never be any way to know with mathematical certainty (epistemic probability = 1) that the last mortal sin had happened and so then one couldn't know with mathematical certainty that one was in fact in heaven.

I'm not sure if the word 'heaven' sustains or requires that sort of restriction on its usage. It's an odd case, because we're describing a situation (mortal sin in the city of God after the return of Christ) which has such extremely low odds.

Richard Davis said...

"... one of the following disjuncts is (probably) true:

Q1: It's not the case that there are infinitely many galaxies.
Q2: There is time-backwards causation.
Q3: There is an objective probability of 1 that at least one person sins (or sins mortally) in heaven."

Let me add two disjuncts:

Q4: For semantic reasons, heaven doesn't count as heaven until after the last mortal sin.
Q5: There are causal connections among some spatial events which altogether disregard distance and so are, in effect, infinitely fast.

Q5 could do some of the same work as Q2, though not as well, since it (unlike Q2) raises questions about why some finitely many regions of an infinite multiverse would be 'privileged' (cursed?) over all the others with respect to being the ones in which there was the highest (very tiny) ontological probability of sin occurring there even during heaven.

I do think Adam and Eve would have remained married in heaven, assuming they had never died. I also think their marriage would have become an increasingly gorgeous and complex thing over the course of eternity. However, given what the Lord said about marriage in heaven, I think the appearance of sin and death must have genuinely changed things, so that now there won't be marriages in even though initially there were intended to be. By the same token, because of sin and death, there will now always be love-resulting-from-forgiveness in heaven --- something that was not originally intended, as far as I can tell. Are you familiar with the passage in the Silmarillion where Eru shows Ulmo that Melchor's wrongdoing (which ushered in harsh extremes of temperature) has resulted in something beautiful and new --- snow?

Actually, I think it-being-up-to-Alice whether Alice enters heaven is particularly important. But then I think that God is able to bring about particularly great compensating goods even when the thing that was lost was of particular importance. (For every crucifixion, a resurrection.) Also I suspect that it is, in general, less important for Alice's progeny that it be up to them whether they enter heaven than for it to be up to Alice whether she enters. If Alice's progeny don't get for it to be up to them whether they enter, they receive the at-least-partially-compensating good of its having been up to one of their forebears (namely, Alice) that they entered heaven. The most honored ancestor is the one who built the family fortune with her own hands, but there's also honor in being one of the descendants who inherits the fruits of her labor. An interesting implication: It may, for all I know, have been that if Adam and Eve (or whichever or our forebears they represent) had not fallen, then their descendants would have lacked the ability to fall --- or at least, had increasingly less ability to fall with each successive generation which did not actually fall --- and this would have been OK. This is a picture on which there might, forever, have been more and more reproduction in heaven, even though eventually there was no more sin in heaven. On the other hand, perhaps it would be a great evil for human beings not to ever have at least some large measure of up-to-themness with respect to not sinning. In that case, either eventually there would have been a lastborn generation of humans, or else eventually someone would have sinned. Would it then have counted as sin-in-heaven? I'm not perfectly sure. Maybe it would, by that point, have counted as heaven for Adam and Eve but not yet for all of their descendants. Though this would be difficult, as I imagine unfallen Adam and Eve would (like Christ) engage in fellow-suffering with any of their descendants who suffered, and it's tricky whether it could count as heaven for them if they underwent serious suffering there.

Richard Davis said...

Since there isn't actually marriage in heaven, though, (whether or not there would have been if our race had not fallen) I don't think further reproduction in heaven will (generally) take place in the same way it does currently on earth. Marriage seems to be an intended part of our current process of reproduction. Maybe, though, human beings can bring about the existence of new persons (non-humans?) in other ways in heaven. Maybe we'll be exceptional AI scientists. :)

About experiences repeating, I think any experience with finite complexity has a nonzero probability. I also think that the longer we're in heaven, the more and more complex the experiences we tend to have will be --- even if the complexity is just a matter (in some cases) of increased intensity (stronger pure joy). We will be more and more like God, and so capable of more and more complex experiences. Does this address your concern about repeated experiences?

I'd enjoy challenging you about compatibilism. Are you familiar with Galen Strawson's argument against it based on the intuition that if X happens because Y happens, and Y is not up to you, then X is not up to you either? Or what about the following case:

In a certain indeterministic universe, there are two twins, Jack and Justin, who have the same strong disposition to commit murder. Jack reached this point by continually choosing more and more hateful actions (even though he was not causally predetermined to choose any of those actions) until, as a result, he became murderous. Justin did the opposite: he continually refused the hateful actions. However, he was abducted by a mad neuroscientist (the one who conveniently hangs out in the vicinity of philosophers in order to be available for use in such stories) who surgically modified Justin's brain in just the right way to make Justin murderous, but without otherwise changing his personality. Both Jack and Justin then intend to commit murder, and they both successfully carry it out.

It seems to me that Jack bears more guilt for the intention to murder than Justin. It's (largely) not Justin's fault that he intended murder --- he couldn't help it --- he was abducted by a neuroscientist and programmed that way.

If I'm right that there's a difference between the amounts of guilt borne by Jack and Justin, then I can explain this difference between them on the following thesis (Causation Blocks Responsibility):

(CBR) To the extent that some event X is caused by something over which Justin has no control, Justin is not morally responsible for X.

Justin lacks at least most of the moral responsibility for intending to murder for the following reason: he intended it because he was abducted and rewired by a neurosurgeon, a series of events over which Justin had no control. By CBR, then, he is largely not morally responsible for intending the murder.

CBR leads to incompatibilism, but if CBR is not the explanation for Justin's relative innocence (innocent relative at least to Jack), what is?

These concerns about compatibilism/incompatibilism do play into the current thread's focus, since my whole theory about why there will or won't be reproduction in heaven seems to depend on incompatibilism. But I hope, if you don't find these new concerns interesting, you won't feel pressed by constraints of politeness into responding to them. They are not, after all, the focus of the current thread.

Angra Mainyu said...

Hi Richard:

With regard to physics and determinism, I meant whether op(P/(E & physics)) is always 0 or 1. I was asking because of what you said about ontological ;) probability and quantum collapse, and I think that's what you meant in this context (but if you meant something else, then my question was about the sense in which you made your comment about collapse). Thanks for explaining your view.

"I think I'll answer briefly by saying that if it turns out that there is any metaphysically possible world whose physics is deterministic, then I am wrong in believing that ontological probability (as I have defined it in terms of limits) has much of anything to do with the sort of probability which English-speakers normally call 'probability'."
That's what I was wondering, I see you got it right, despite my lack of precision.
By the way, do you believe that whether what English speakers normally call "probability" is the same as ontological probability is a matter that can be settled a priori, or a posteriori? (or you don't make that distinction?).

"Even on my view where there's always a nonzero probability that another mortal sin will occur, I think there still may be a probability of 1 that eventually there will be no more mortal sins, i.e., that some mortal sin will be the last one. (This might require the sort of quantum-entangly backwards causation at the edge of our lightcones that I described in the last series of posts.) So we might argue thus: that it doesn't really count as heaven until the last mortal sin has happened. But there'd never be any way to know with mathematical certainty (epistemic probability = 1) that the last mortal sin had happened and so then one couldn't know with mathematical certainty that one was in fact in heaven."
I think I get this. So, is the following interpretation of (part of) your view correct?

1. There is an afterlife realm that is not heaven or purgatory or hell, and in which that people don't sin isn't up to people (though it was up to some of them, namely those who made relevant choices on Earth), and they're almost but not entirely causally determined not to sin.
2. That realm eventually turns into heaven, when no other sins will ever happen. However, this does not look like a change in the way the realm "works", but just that no one ever sins again.
3. Even so, if at some time t0 in the future people are in heaven in W, there is a very improbable possible world W' with the same past as W up to t0, such that at least one sin occurs after t0 at W'.

"I'm not sure if the word 'heaven' sustains or requires that sort of restriction on its usage. It's an odd case, because we're describing a situation (mortal sin in the city of God after the return of Christ) which has such extremely low odds."
Right, but I was asking because I was intrigued by your answer. This one is also surprising (to me, anyway), because even if it's not called "heaven", it entails that sin is possible in the city of God after the return of Christ, and I hadn't encountered that view before.

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with The Silmarillion, but thanks for explaining your take on Adam and Eve's potential marriage and reproduction in heaven.

Angra Mainyu said...

"Since there isn't actually marriage in heaven, though, (whether or not there would have been if our race had not fallen) I don't think further reproduction in heaven will (generally) take place in the same way it does currently on earth."
The cases of reproduction outside marriage are too many in my view for the marriage case to count as the usual way, even if it's the most usual way.
For example, the percentage of children born out of wedlock reached 47.5 percent in the UK, and it's expected to be over 50% next year (source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10172627/Most-children-will-be-born-out-of-wedlock-by-2016.html ), and among African-Americans, the percentage is 72 ( http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/jul/29/don-lemon/cnns-don-lemon-says-more-72-percent-african-americ/ ).

Granted, most Christian views hold that reproduction out of wedlock is immoral, but for that matter, they also hold that sex out of wedlock is immoral.
Do you think that no reproduction in heaven also goes hand in hand with no sex in heaven?

"About experiences repeating, I think any experience with finite complexity has a nonzero probability. I also think that the longer we're in heaven, the more and more complex the experiences we tend to have will be --- even if the complexity is just a matter (in some cases) of increased intensity (stronger pure joy). We will be more and more like God, and so capable of more and more complex experiences. Does this address your concern about repeated experiences?"
Yes, it does, though now I'm not sure why you think any experience with finite complexity has a nonzero probability. Does that include, say, the experience that a human contemplates or looks at a googleplex!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! distinct objects? (i.e., recognizing them as distinct?).

"I'd enjoy challenging you about compatibilism."

Fair enough.

"Are you familiar with Galen Strawson's argument against it based on the intuition that if X happens because Y happens, and Y is not up to you, then X is not up to you either?"
I've seen arguments like that, but I don't think I recall this one in particular. Do you know where it's published?
In any case, I don't have that intuition. I think that assessment suggests bypassing, so that in that case, I don't bring about Y. But I think I can bring about Y. My intuition is that if I'm causally determined to, say, write this post, it's still up to me, since I wouldn't write it if I decided not to write it - my being causally determined to write it does not affect that -, and there is nothing affecting the normal functioning of my brain/mind.

That's not to say I believe in causal determinism - I take no stance on that -, but I don't think, after considering the matter, it would make a difference. In my assessment, incompatibilist intuitions are (at least usually) based on the idea of bypassing (i.e., that a causally determined object wouldn't itself cause the things it appears to cause), but I think belief in bypassing is mistaken.

Angra Mainyu said...

In re: Jack and Justin, it seems to me that Justin's brain has been altered. He's not acting of his own free will, but it's like he's under the effect of a mind-control mechanism of some kind - in this case, one that alters the way his brain works, making it malfunction and not due to his own free choices.

As for Jack, I don't know, because maybe the indeterminism of the universe is messing with the capacity for moral responsibility. To be precise, I don't think indeterminism is incompatible with moral responsibility, but some types of indeterminism are; it depends on how it happens. However, assuming his mind is working as ours usually do (and so, assuming indeterminism in our world), then his capacity for MR is not diminished.

However, I don't think CBR is true. What seems to be happening in the case of Justin is that someone messed with his head and made his brain malfunction, so he wasn't making a free choice - and making one's brain malfunction surely blocks responsibility to some extent, regardless of whether the cause is a neurosurgeon or a brain tumor, etc.

That said, I think one should be careful about the assumptions of normality and freedom in such scenarios.
In particular, under the assumption people are free, morally responsible, etc., in a causally deterministic world, events that introduce causal indeterminism interfere with the normal way in which those people (and specifically their brains) work. Reciprocally, assuming that people are free, morally responsible, etc., in a causally indeterministic world, events that introduce causal determinism interfere with the normal way in which those people (and specifically their brains) work.
In both cases, that might give a person assessing the scenario pause when it comes to assigning responsibility or guilt, perhaps suspecting that their brains are malfunctioning enough to affect MR or guilt. Yet, that would not be an assessment based on the causally deterministic or indeterministic feature of the world, but based on the malfunctioning part.

In the scenario you present, though, it seems clear to me (if I'm reading this right) that his brain malfunctions in the right way to prevent responsibility or guilt, or at least reduce it (depending on how much he was affected).

"These concerns about compatibilism/incompatibilism do play into the current thread's focus, since my whole theory about why there will or won't be reproduction in heaven seems to depend on incompatibilism."
True, but I have no problem assuming incompatibilism here for the sake of the argument (after all, most Christians philosophers seem to be incompatibilists, and in any case, I'm also assuming Christianity).
On the other hand, I'll gladly explain my take on the matter and address your incompatibilist arguments. :)

Angra Mainyu said...

Richard:

One more point, regarding the "because" argument (i.e., "if X happens because Y happens, and Y is not up to you, then X is not up to you either")
Consider the question: why did non-avian dinosaurs become extinct?
A proper answer is:

A1: Because about 65 million years ago, an asteroid of such-and-such shape and size hit the Earth at such-and-such speed, triggering such-and-such events. [for some proper such-and-such]

Now, if the universe is causally deterministic, then one day before impact, the asteroid was already causally determined to hit. But that does not make A1 false or improper. Even assuming causal determinism, the answer is correct.
The following answer would also be correct:

A2: Because about 65 million years ago, an asteroid of such-and-such shape and size was on a collision course with the Earth at such-and-such speed, triggering such-and-such events. [for some proper such-and-such]

Answer A2, while proper, sounds awkward and is less interesting to us (given our psychology) than A1, but it's also correct. My point is that, in my assessment, the fact that X happened because of Y1 does not preclude that it happened because of Y2, where Y2=/Y1. It's just that our language allows us to use the word "because" to focus on different causes, determining or not.

If the universe is indeterministic, then it remains the case that an hour before impact, the ontological probability of impact was almost 1, and the ontological probability of extinction was almost the same 1 hour as it was one hour after impact. But despite the fact that the ontological probability increased minimally, and it was already very high, answer A1 remains proper, and so does A2 - proper, but awkward.

So, back to the case of human behavior. Why am I writing this post?
A proper answer would be:
A3: It's because I choose to do so, because I wanted to address your challenges to my compatibilist position, etc.

But I would say that - similar to the previous cases - A3 is a proper answer even if the universe is deterministic and so is something like A4:

A4: Because 1 billion years ago the universe was in such-and-such state, and the universe works in such-and-such manner. [for some appropriate such-and-such]

Of course, if the universe is indeterministic, there probably is no A4-like proper answer (it would depend on the sort of indeterminism, but very probably there isn't one). Also, even if the universe is deterministic, we don't have nearly enough info to fill in the blanks in A4. Plus, it's weird, and not what we humans usually want to know - i.e., not the cause that it's psychologically salient to us -, so I would reply something like A3.
But the focus of my analysis here is that there may be (and usually are) many "because" that would be proper to answer (at least, given sufficient info); one does not preclude the other.

Back to the up-to-selfness thing, I would say that writing my post is up to me, and it happened because I chose to write it, regardless of whether it also happened because of some event in the distant past, or a distant choice made by God, etc. (assuming of course that no one messed with my brain, compelling me to write it, or something like that, but that's a safe bet).

Mark Rogers said...

Hey Angra!
This tread has been informative and thank you for your time. As far as reproduction in Heaven goes I would think that as earth can possibly produce an infinite number of souls it would seem unlikely that reproduction in Heaven would be called for much less necessary especially if one is inclined to believe that there are an infinite number of galaxies. A baby conceived in heaven would be rarer than a unicorn. But who knows? Surely a life broached in heaven would be priceless. As far as some one experiencing an infinite number of the same experiences in heaven, that sounds like hell.

Angra Mainyu said...

Hey Mark,

You're welcome, it's fun. :)
As for reproduction in heaven, I was only testing some theories, but I don't think I could properly tell - the scenario is just too alien to me.
I agree reproduction wouldn't be needed as a means to increase numbers (but then, why would they need to increase them?), but on the other hand, they might like to have children...but it's too alien to properly say, so I'll leave it there.
With regard to repeated experiences, I don't think it would be like hell, even if it wouldn't be the best. After all, people would eventually forget what they experienced, at least if they keep their human brains with limited capacity for storing information.
In my view, if we could have a life pretty much like the life we have here on Earth but without disease, hunger, etc., and which lasted forever, eventually we would forget things, repeat experiences, etc., but still, life would be generally good.

Still, perhaps one could add a self-destruction feature if someone actually is suffering in that sort of life.

Mark Rogers said...

Angra to obtain salvation is simple, one merely hits the easy button. This option however does not seem to be available to all. For instance the bible speaks of salvation for those who 'believe' but I have not read of a way to salvation for those who 'know'. So how would, for example, the angels be saved?

Angra Mainyu said...

Mark,

Different versions of Christianity posit different salvation conditions. According to Catholicism, there is no known way for the salvation of people who die in mortal sin. And sex is often mortally sinful, it seems to me.
So, it seems it's very difficult for many people.
As for angels, they were already given the choice, and some went to hell, others didn't, according to most Christian views.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Quick note: Non-marital sex always satisfies the "seriousness of matter" necessary condition for mortal sin. But there are two other necessary conditions for mortal sin: (a) freedom and (b) awareness of wrong (and degree of wrong). Addictions, including to sex, can impede freedom. And many people may not be aware--and only God knows for sure if their lack of awareness is something they are culpable for--that non-marital sex (especially pre-marital sex) is always seriously wrong.

Angra Mainyu said...

Alex:

Thanks for the correction.
By those standards, it seems to me sex is usually not mortally sinful because people normally don't think it's wrong. On the other hand, I get the impression that "awareness of wrong" would leave aside all sort of moral atrocities that the perpertrators carry out believing it's the right thing to do. I don't find that morally problematic (after all, I reckon hell would always be wrong on the part of the creator). I just find that surprising.

Alexander R Pruss said...

In the case of atrocities, it is probably harder to be innocent in one's ignorance of the wrongness. It seems fairly likely that one's conscience spoke out against it and was silenced, or that one's earlier immoral activity deadened one's conscience. The same could be true in the sexual case, but the influence of a sexually lax culture could give an innocent explanation.

At the same time, in the case of atrocities, there is a greater chance of some form of insanity impacting both the awareness and the freedom conditions.

Anyway, thoughts like this make some Catholic theologians think that there may not be many in hell (though in another sense, even one or two is "many" when we are talking of eternal damnation). And it is also why we cannot make ultimate judgments.

Angra Mainyu said...

Regarding a "sexually lax" culture, what about cultures where prevalent behavior includes, say, stoning people to death for [alleged] adultery, or for converting to the wrong religion (apostasy), or for heresy, blasphemy, etc., burning people alive for witchcraft, etc.?
As I see it, it's very probable that most people involved either silenced their consciences, or else their earlier immoral activities damaged their conscience (or something else did, hypothetically; after considering the matter, I don't think that previous guilt is necessary for culpability, though in practice that's how it normally happens), whereas while consensual sex is usually not immoral, and when it is (e.g., cheating), people usually know it.
But from the perspective that consensual sex is immoral except for some very specific sexual behavior between married people, if the influence of a sexually lax culture could give an innocent explanation, wouldn't a similarly innocent explanation be available in the other cases - or in most of them?

In re: not many in hell, I'm glad to hear that (though I think even one is too many). But why can't you properly make ultimate judgments?
After all, we generally make judgments - including moral judgments - based on a limited amount of info.
In particular, there are plenty of cases in which crimes require a certain intent, state of mind, etc., and in order to convict a person, beyond a reasonable doubt evidence is required.
Why can there not be beyond a reasonable doubt evidence of the intentions, beliefs, etc., that would make a person meet the conditions for going to heaven or to hell (i.e., the conditions according to Catholicism?

Mark Rogers said...

Refrain:
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Horatio G. Spafford

Richard Davis said...

Hi Angra:

I think that in theory it could be settled a priori or a posteriori whether my 'ontological probability' is what English-speakers usually call 'probability.' Ideally, we'd use a mix of a priori and a posteriori evidence to decide the question.

Yes, the view you outlined is how things would be, on my view, if it turned out that the semantics of the word 'heaven' prevent a scenario from counting as heaven until the last sin has occurred. However, it's not my view that this is indeed how the word 'heaven' works. I'm ambivalent on that matter. And I do positively think there are some uses of the morpheme 'heaven' which don't rule out sin occurring in heaven; e.g., 'war in heaven' in Revelation.

Thank you for the statistics about childbirth. These sorts of facts are, in general, ones I'd like to have a better handle on. However, the statistics (which aren't too far off from what I would have guessed) don't strike me as having much direct impact on my view, which was that marriage is an intended (as in, intended by God) part of childbirth at least for the usual case.

I'm not certain about whether no-childbirth-in-heaven implies no-sex-in-heaven. For one thing, I'm not sure how much the nature of sex itself might change in heaven. Or even how much it can change while still counting as 'sex.'

Thank you for your discussion about incompatibilism. This is a topic I've only recentishly begun to wade into.

I hadn't meant to argue, in the case of Jack and Justin, that Justin's intention to murder was not caused by Justin. It seems to me that it was. Rather, I take the claim "if X happens because Y happens, and Y is not up to you, then X is not up to you either" to basically (in the epistemologically technical sense of 'basically') seem true apriori, given one natural reading of 'up to you.'

I'm strongly beginning to wonder if there are simply two natural readings of all these related terms --- 'up to you,' 'freely done,' 'ability,' 'can,' 'could,' and perhaps even 'guilt.' One family of meanings tied together by the notion of indeterminacy, and another by the notion of causation. I think I can get myself to read them either way without it feeling forced.

To respond to this, I'm curious how my theodicy would strike you if the whole thing were recast in terms of 'original up-to-youness,' where something is 'originally up to you' just in case it is up to you and it is not caused by anything outside of you. The thought, then, is that in a causally predeterministic universe, nothing would be originally up to any created beings. More specifically, if we were causally determined never to fall, then it would not be originally up to us that we did not fall --- if, in fact, we did not. God has not just up-to-Godness, but original up-to-Godness with respect to God's character and many other (all other?) God-facts, so as images of God it is likely important that we have lots of original up-to-usness about our characters and many other us-facts, too. The goal here is to render the argument compatible with compatibilism. (Meta-compatible?)

Richard Davis said...

A clarificatory edit: Something is originally up to you just in case it is up to you and it is not caused by anything outside of you which you yourself don't cause.

Angra Mainyu said...

Hi Richard:

Thanks for explaining your views.
With respect to the meaning of the English expression "up to you", in my view, if I can bring about X if I choose to, and I can bring about ¬X if I choose to, and my brain, etc., is working normally, then it's up to me whether X happens, regardless of whether there were earlier causes of X.
So, we don't have the same view on that. But you raise an interesting question:

"I'm strongly beginning to wonder if there are simply two natural readings of all these related terms --- 'up to you,' 'freely done,' 'ability,' 'can,' 'could,' and perhaps even 'guilt.' One family of meanings tied together by the notion of indeterminacy, and another by the notion of causation. I think I can get myself to read them either way without it feeling forced."

I'm not convinced, but if you're right, that raises the following issue: which of the two readings is the one that matters in the context of moral judgments?
In my assessment, it would be the notion not tied with indeterminacy, so we would still have that matter to settle - or to disagree about; compatibilists and incompatibilists aren't likely to end their disagreements any time soon, in my view.

"To respond to this, I'm curious how my theodicy would strike you if the whole thing were recast in terms of 'original up-to-youness,' where something is 'originally up to you' just in case it is up to you and it is not caused by anything outside of you. "
"A clarificatory edit: Something is originally up to you just in case it is up to you and it is not caused by anything outside of you which you yourself don't cause."

As you know, I'm assuming Christianity, etc., for the sake of the argument, so I'll for now take your question as a question of how your theodicy would strike me if I do assume Christianity, but on the other hand, I keep my compatibilist view, but please let me know if that's not what you meant to ask.

"The goal here is to render the argument compatible with compatibilism. (Meta-compatible?)"

I'm afraid it wouldn't work for me, because my assessment would be that the concept of original-up-to-ness is not morally relevant, and it's not a good thing to have - just neutral -, so it wouldn't matter whether we resemble God in that regard.
Still, one might ask how Christian compatibilists would respond to that. I don't know, but if their compatibilist assessments are similar to mine, I would expect that they wouldn't find it persuasive. Then again, this is very speculative. In fact, I'm not sure I ever met a Christian compatibilist, with the exception of ultraliberal Christians who don't even claim there is an afterlife or that Jesus was anything beyond a good moral teacher (then, there is the issue of what "Christian" means).

Richard Davis said...

Hi Angra:

I agree that my theory depends on original up-to-selfness being a good thing, not just a neutral thing. But why isn't original up-to-selfness a good thing to have? I don't mean 'morally good,' just good simpliciter, in the same way that it's good (but not morally good) to have intelligence and creativity?

If nothing else, S's original up-to-selfness with respect to event X gives S a degree of uniqueness, since it seems that X can at most be originally up to one person. Thus, if X is originally up to S, S is unique in that S is the only person X is originally up to. I've often encountered the intuition that each human being's uniqueness or individuality --- her being differentiated in non-trivial ways from all other beings in reality --- is an important feature of that human being. If so, then X's being originally up to a certain human S may often be important as a way of bringing about S's uniqueness and individuality. For this reason, it would be good, and not just neutral, for S to have original up-to-selfness with respect to X.

Besides that, resemblance to God is a good thing in itself, and since God has lots of original up-to-selfness, it seems to follow that (given God's existence) it is a good thing for creatures to have original up-to-selfness, even if this is so only because having original up-to-selfness causes those creatures to resemble God.

I also think that even on a compatibilist view of freedom --- one on which my being causally predetermined to do X does not preclude my doing X freely --- my original up-to-mess with respect to X (and not merely my up-to-meness simpliciter with respect to doing X) will be a necessary condition for maximizing my freedom, that is, rendering me free with respect to as many actions as possible. I was gathering from your (clear and helpful) discussion of Jack and Justin that when a malfunction in subject S is caused by some source external from S, and that malfunction results in S doing X, whereas absent the malfunction, S would not have done X, this in many cases results in S not being free in his doing of X. Suppose that's all so. Now consider a universe which is for the most part causally deterministic; i.e., in most cases, whatever a subject in this universe does, he or she was causally predetermined to do it.

Richard Davis said...

My concern is that in such a universe, if a subject S in fact does X, then it would not have been possible for the past to have been what it was and for S to freely not have done X, because the only way that could have happened is if the laws of causation connecting the past to S's doing X were to have somehow changed in that local instance so as make that past not causally determine that S does X. But it seems to me that if the laws of causation were to change locally so as not to predetermine that S does X, this would likely entail that in not doing X, S had somehow malfunctioned. For since she is a subject in a universe which is ordinarily causally predeterministic, S is therefore the sort of being who ordinarily behaves according to the causal laws which have to be locally suspended in order for S to not do X.

So it seems plausible to me that in a causally predeterministic universe where S does X, the only way in which it could be brought about that the past is what it is and yet S does not do X is for S to malfunction through a local exception to the prevailing causal laws. But since malfunctioning often (perhaps not always) impedes freedom, it seems that in a universe where (the past being what it is) S cannot not-do-X without malfunction, S likely therefore cannot freely not-do-X.

The result seems to be that in a causally predeterministic universe, subjects are often free to do the things they in fact do, but the things they in fact don't do are frequently for that reason things which they were never free to do in the first place. They could never have done them without malfunction, given that the past was what it was. So in such a universe, most of the things a subject does not in fact do are things she was never free to do. A subject like that still has a degree of real freedom --- she really is free, in the full and robust sense, to do all the things which, in fact, she does --- but there are considerably fewer actions she is free to do than there would be if she were free both to do all the actions which in fact she does and also free to do very many other actions --- ones she doesn't in fact do --- as well. In an indeterministic universe, by contrast, a subject who in fact does X may easily have a way to not-do-X without malfunctioning. So in an indeterministic universe where a subject in fact does X, the subject may be free to do X and also free to not-do-X; whereas in a deterministic universe where the subject does X, it looks like (in many such cases) she was only free to do X, not free to not do X.

I mean all this to follow from a compatibilist conception of freedom, on which a subject's freedom to do X is not impeded by her being causally predetermined to do X. It seems to me that even on a compatibilist conception of freedom, we have more freedom (that is, there are more things each of which we are free to do) in an indeterministic universe than in a deterministic one.

Now, freedom is a good thing to have, not just a neutral thing (right?). Oughtn't we to expect, then, that a benevolent God would wish to maximize our freedom? If so, then since we have more freedom in an indeterministic universe than a deterministic one even if compatibilism is true, shouldn't we expect that God would create us in an indeterministic universe? That seems to be a universe in which it is not causally predetermined that we do not sin. Hence, if we do sin, then our sinning is originally up to us; and if we don't, then our not-sinning is originally up to us. So it looks like our having original up-to-usness with respect to our sinning or not-sinning (whichever we actually do) is a necessary consequence of God seeking to give us a certain good, not merely neutral, thing: namely, as much freedom as possible.

Angra Mainyu said...

Hi Richard:

You ask: "why isn't original up-to-selfness a good thing to have? I don't mean 'morally good,' just good simpliciter, in the same way that it's good (but not morally good) to have intelligence and creativity?"
That makes a parallel between original up to selfness and intelligence or creativity. But I don't see why those things would be similar. In other words, I would be inclined to ask: "why is original up-to-selfness a good thing to have?"
In yet other words, I'm not inclined to think why it isn't a good thing calls for an explanation, but rather, why it is so.
At any rate, since you ask me and you made that comparison, I'll give it a try.
I would say that original up-to-selfness - unlike creativity or intelligence - is not a mental trait, and it's not so much something that the agent has in that sense, but rather, something that happened to the agent, or didn't happen, but which wasn't good or bad (i.e., about how the agent came to be, or events in the distant past).

"If nothing else, S's original up-to-selfness with respect to event X gives S a degree of uniqueness, since it seems that X can at most be originally up to one person. Thus, if X is originally up to S, S is unique in that S is the only person X is originally up to."
It's unclear to me the uniqueness claim is correct. For example, if whether to bring about Y is up to A, and A decides not to bring it about, it seems to me it can later be originally up to B whether to bring about Y.
But maybe there is a way in which you can avoid this problem. The second one is that even if there were uniqueness.

"I've often encountered the intuition that each human being's uniqueness or individuality --- her being differentiated in non-trivial ways from all other beings in reality --- is an important feature of that human being."
I don't have that intuition, but I too often encountered that claim. I think it's false.

To go with your examples, consider, for instance, intelligence or creativity. I don't think that if we learned tomorrow that the universe is so big that almost certainly there are people like us, with our mental traits, even a person with the same intelligence and creativity as each of us, then those traits would be any less good.
In fact, even if we learned that the universe is so big that there very probably are people with internalistically-same past mental experiences, I don't think we should reckon our good memories would be any less good because of it.
So, generally speaking, I don't see uniqueness as a positive or negative, but neutral.
Granted, having a unique trait compared to a certain population might be instrumentally good. For example, if I'm the only person on the planet qualified to do some job, maybe I'll get paid very well, so uniqueness pays off. But that's merely instrumental, and even then, that's not even global uniqueness, but just uniqueness on Earth (or in a country, etc.), since I'm not getting paid any less just because, on distant planets, other people are equally qualified.

"Besides that, resemblance to God is a good thing in itself, and since God has lots of original up-to-selfness, it seems to follow that (given God's existence) it is a good thing for creatures to have original up-to-selfness, even if this is so only because having original up-to-selfness causes those creatures to resemble God."
I don't see why resembling God on matters that are not good but neutral would be a good thing in itself.
However, if you assume that all traits of God are good - none neutral -, then sure, it would be good to have original up-to-selfness, because original up-to-selfness is good.
Alternatively, if you assume that even if some traits of God are neutral, it's good to resemble him in those regards, also that works.
If either assumption is also shared by a Christian compatibilist, then maybe from that perspective your theodicy looks good.

Angra Mainyu said...

As for maximizing freedom, that's not the case from my compatibilist perspective (in my view, causal determinism does not reduce freedom), or other compatibilist perspectives I'm familiar with.

"I was gathering from your (clear and helpful) discussion of Jack and Justin that when a malfunction in subject S is caused by some source external from S, and that malfunction results in S doing X, whereas absent the malfunction, S would not have done X, this in many cases results in S not being free in his doing of X. "
Even if the malfunction is internal, the result is often the same (e.g., brain tumor, or some other mental illness, unless you count that as "external").
In any case, the problem on a compatibilist view (at least on mine) is the malfunction of the cognitive faculties, not their being caused by an external source, deterministic or otherwise.

"So it seems plausible to me that in a causally predeterministic universe where S does X, the only way in which it could be brought about that the past is what it is and yet S does not do X is for S to malfunction through a local exception to the prevailing causal laws. But since malfunctioning often (perhaps not always) impedes freedom, it seems that in a universe where (the past being what it is) S cannot not-do-X without malfunction, S likely therefore cannot freely not-do-X."
I agree that in such a universe, if a subject S in fact does X, then it would not have been possible for the past to have been what it was and for S to freely not have done X. But I believe S could freely choose whether to do X, she would have freely not done X if she had chosen not to, and so on.
In other words, I don't think fixing the past is what matters when it comes to free choice and power, but what would have happened if she had chosen this or that; also, I don't think in this context, she "could" freely choose whether to X means or entails there is a possible world with the same past at which she does X, and one at which she does not.

" A subject like that still has a degree of real freedom --- she really is free, in the full and robust sense, to do all the things which, in fact, she does --- but there are considerably fewer actions she is free to do than there would be if she were free both to do all the actions which in fact she does and also free to do very many other actions --- ones she doesn't in fact do --- as well."
That's not my compatibilist view, and I don't think that view is common among compatibilists.

Angra Mainyu said...

Richard:

Incidentally, this might or might not be a problem for your view (I don't know what your take on foreknowledge is), but it seems your take on this is incompatible with the view that God has (non-probabilistic) foreknowledge, and we have free will - a common view among Christians, though not universal of course.

Let's say that God knows in the distant past what you will do X in the future. Whether God's state of mind regarding that you'll do X may or may not be properly called a belief, but whatever that is (e.g., a belief if God's has beliefs, or some sort of intuitive apprehension of truths, or whatever it is), it's some concrete past state of the world - let's say God believes* that you'll do X, to capture that state of mind, where "belief*" may or may not be the same as belief.

Then, in any other world with the same past as ours, you will do X.
I don't think that's the same as a fatalistic argument: there is a subtle but I think crucial difference.
For example, let's say that determinism is false, and the universe works more or less as an indeterministic interpretation of QM holds (with some adjustment, but roughly).
It's true that Obama is not going to quantum tunnel through a wall before 2016, and I know it's true.
There is a possible world W2 with the same initial segment up to today as our world in which he will do so.
So, I know today that Obama is not going to quantum tunnel through a wall before 2016, but in W2, I (or my counterpart) falsely believes today (rather than knowing) that Obama isn't going to quantum tunnel, etc.

In my assessment, that shows that when we say that two worlds have the same initial segment (or more informally, that the past is the same up to some point, etc.), we don't mean to include truths about the future, or the epistemic status of our beliefs. Otherwise, we would be assuming determinism whenever we do that.

On the other hand, it seems clear to me that we do include any concrete states of the world, like the state of mind of an agent, so God's belief*. But given that it's impossible that God be mistaken, the argument above follows

In short, if God has foreknowledge and is essentially infallible, in every world with the same past as this world, you freely chose exactly the same things you chose in this world - and moreover, in such a world, every world with the same past as our world also has the same future.

Mark Rogers said...

Very nice Ingra! And it seems to work just as well if God does not exist.

Richard Davis said...

Hi Angra:

When people have conflicting intuitions about whether a certain thing is good, what do you take to be the appropriate method for settling the conflict? I have the intuition that original up-to-selfness with respect to heavenly bliss is good: to me, on the assumption that I do eventually enter heaven, the original up-to-meness of this fact (hence, the existence of the genuine risk that I might not have been there) intuitively increases the degree to which it is both dire and amazing that I actually end up enjoying such joy. This direness and amazingness seem to add to the glory of the event, and such glory seems good. I take this intuition to provide evidence that original up-to-selfness with respect to heavenly bliss is, in fact, a good thing. But of course, some people have the positive intuition (as I take it you do) that original up-to-selfness is of no intrinsic value --- that having it neither intrinsically improves nor disimproves a situation. I could imagine the analogous intuition, namely, that either original up-to-selfness (with consequent risk) does not increase the direness or amazingness of the good outcome, or else the direness and amazingness do not increase its glory, or else that its glory is not good.

I'm interested in discussing the particular arguments as to whether original up to selfness is good, but I'd be interested in first taking a look at the groundwork for how an examination of that sort of topic (giving conflicting intuitions about goodness) is supposed to go. For instance: As someone who puts an embarrassingly high credence in the existence of a very vast and densely populated multiverse, I am constitutionally inclined to disregard, or perhaps even not possess in the first place, the intuition that there is something intrinsically good about a person's being unique. However, as I've repeatedly encountered said intuition (very strongly felt) in intelligent people of diverse mentalities whom I personally respect, it's begun to seem to me that there is likely something to it. That is, in a certain other case where there were conflicting intuitions about whether something was intrinsically good (viz., diverse intelligent people I respected intuit that uniqueness is an important intrinsic good, whereas I tend to intuit that it is not), I judged that it was rational to favor their intuition over my own --- especially once I realized that there was what I took to be a plausible way that qualitative uniqueness of persons could be maintained even in a maximally dense multiverse. Put another way, preponderance of diverse and credible peers who intuit P --- combined with a plausible hypothetical explanation as to how P might be true --- make it rational to give credence to P, even for those of us who naturally intuit ~P. Do you think this sort of peer-deference move is rational when judging questions of intrinsic goodness? Or do you think each agent should stick nearly only to his own intuitions, not those of others?

Thank you for your continued discussion about compatibilism. As I mentioned, this topic is largely new to me, and there's much room for me to grow here. A couple questions come to mind about your account:

(i) On your view, can a choice itself be something with respect to which you are free? I ask because I am concerned that on your definition of freedom, being free to do X seems to be a fact about doing X if one chooses to do X; so then being free to choose X is a fact about doing X if one chooses to choose X. This seems odd to me, since I would have thought that when we choose X, we don't ordinarily choose to choose X --- we simply choose X, without choosing to choose it.

(ii) What makes something count as a malfunction? Do you think there's some sort of natural teleology to the brain, for instance, which objectively determines what's a malfunction and what is not?

Richard Davis said...
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Richard Davis said...
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Richard Davis said...

About God's foreknowledge:

I mostly think that at any time t which precedes time t', where [At t', P] and [At t', ~P] are each compossible with the facts at t, it is not the case that there is some intrinsic state S such that at t, God has S and [At t, God has S] entails either of [At t', P] and [At t', ~P].

So I think one of three accounts is correct:

(A) 'Omniscient' means 'Knows every truth.' So "At every time t, God is omniscient" means "At every time t, God knows every truth." If the future is not determined P-at-t'-wise at t, then at t, neither [At t', P] nor [At t, P] is a truth. So God doesn't know either one of those two propositions --- hence, at t, God doesn't know whether at t', P --- but this is no skin off God’s omniscience. God always knows all the truths there are, and that is what it means for God to be omniscient. He just never knows all the truths there ever are. The thought of his doing so is, according to this picture, like asking him to make a rock which omnipotence cannot lift, or to create a round square. It is not even a coherent thought.

(B) Talk about God's foreknowledge is properly construed as talk about what, in eternity, God knows. Eternity is the sum of all reality: past, present, future and otherwise. For any time t, if there is a truth as to whether P at t, then in eternity, either God knows [At t’, P] or else God knows [At t', ~P]. So in eternity, God knows all the truths there ever are. However, [In eternity, God knows [At t’, P]] does not commit us to [In the past, God knows [At t’, P]], and it is only the latter of those two propositions which would raise the problem you outlined. There are things which are true of God in eternity which are not true of God in the past.

On this view, we describe God’s knowledge in eternity of what happens at t’ this as foreknowledge about t’ for at least one of two reasons:

(i) 'Knowing things before they happen' is a helpful and illumining model for the more difficult and exact concept of 'Knowing things in eternity'. In speaking of God’s knowing things before they happen, the tradition is giving us this helpful model rather than stating an exact metaphysical truth which (for most people at most times) so difficult to grok as not to be helpful to them;

(ii) It is always the case (i.e., it is the case at every time t) that in eternity, God knows everything there ever is to know. But although knowing [At t', P] would at t be an intrinsic state of anyone who possessed that state at t, knowing [At t', P] in eternity is not at t an intrinsic state of anyone who possesses it at t. In much the same way, my being going to eat a sandwich tomorrow is not a state which today is intrinsic to me. So when we say God always has foreknowledge about everything that will ever be true, we are saying that God is always such that in eternity he knows everything that will ever be true; and we are not thereby attributing to him any state which is intrinsic to God at a given time (much less a state which is intrinsic to God at t and determines what happens at a later time t’). On this view, speech about God’s foreknowledge is strictly and exactly true, but it doesn’t generate the problem.

(C) Most weirdly, there is deterministic timebackward causation. If at t, there is nothing which determines whether or not at t', P, then either in fact at t', P or else in fact at t', ~P. In such a case, if at t', P, then the truthmaker for [At t', P] is such as to deterministically cause it to be the case that at t, God knows that at’, P. Mutatis mutandi if at t', ~P. This is timebackwards causation because in the sort of case we have in mind, the truthmaker for at t', P is something that doesn't exist until t'.

This disjunct --- (C) --- is the epistemic possibility which garners the smallest fraction of my credence, since nature does not normally seem to work this way and the whole view strikes me as ad hoc.

Richard Davis said...

Finally, I admit I reserve some credence for the following view (one on which God does always have infallible foreknowledge of everything that will ever be the case, and this foreknowledge is at each time an intrinsic state of God):

(D) There's an oft-overlooked distinction between [In the future, ~P] and [~(In the future, P)]. The propositions [In the future, P] and [In the future, ~P] are consistent. To the extent this seems not so, it is largely because we mistake the proposition [~(In the future, P)] for the proposition [In the future, ~P]. In fact, there is necessarily a forward-branching multiverse, such that for any time t before any time t', if the world is open P-at-t'-wise at t, then the state of the world at t determines both that at t', P and also that at t', ~P. This does not entail that at t’, P & ~P. Rather, there will be two different parts of t', in one of which P and in one of which ~P --- two different branches of the future, standing temporally side-by-side --- and this is sufficient for the truth of both [At t', P] and [At t', ~P]. Consequently, God can possess at t an internal state which determines all the facts about the future. The trick is, God’s state literally determines all the facts about the future: every possible fact about the future. This is an infinitely branching multiverse theory on which every possible future necessarily obtains. So God infallibly foreknows all of them.

Richard Davis said...

I ought to include one more disjunct:

(E) I take the concept of superpositions very seriously, in metaphysics and not only physics. Now, ordinarily, I accept the view that if x in a superposition which yields a sufficiently high probability of collapse into state phi, then x is (simpliciter) in state phi. Call this the Thesis. Suppose I step away from Thesis. Then we could have the following view: There is always a precise future which God infallibly foreknows in virtue of his own intrinsic state. However, God is in a superposition of thusly infallibly foreknowing each of the many different possible futures. I need to examine this response more carefully, but I think it would resolve the difficulty with predeterminism. Also, I might have to drop Thesis anyway, to avoid the mere ordinarily truths about the future (God's foreknowledge aside) from predetermining the future, at least unless we binge for option D.

Angra Mainyu said...

Mark:

Thanks, but I'm not sure I understand what works just as well if God does not exist. Could you clarify, please?

Angra Mainyu said...

Richard:

Thanks for your thorough reply. I'm afraid it will take me a while to address your epistemic questions, and most of your points.

For now, I'll address two of your points/questions/objections.

"(i) On your view, can a choice itself be something with respect to which you are free? I ask because I am concerned that on your definition of freedom, being free to do X seems to be a fact about doing X if one chooses to do X; so then being free to choose X is a fact about doing X if one chooses to choose X. This seems odd to me, since I would have thought that when we choose X, we don't ordinarily choose to choose X --- we simply choose X, without choosing to choose it."
I don't have a definition intended to capture the meaning of the term to any arbitrary degree of accuracy. I was just giving what I think is a good approximation of the truth conditions, but I think I may have been unclear, though I'm not sure how - I'm not sure I understand your question/objection.

For example, I freely choose to write this post. Had I chosen not to write it I would not have wrote it. Had I chosen to take a walk instead, I would have done so. And so on. I'm not sure how this ties to having to choose to choose X. Perhaps, I'm not explaining my view properly? If so, please clarify.

"(ii) What makes something count as a malfunction? Do you think there's some sort of natural teleology to the brain, for instance, which objectively determines what's a malfunction and what is not? "
I'm not sure what "objective" means in this context, or "natural teleology".
But perhaps the following will help clarify my take on the matter: I do think that we - humans - have an instinctive apprehensions of states that our language about health and sickness, proper function and malfunction of organs, and so on, [fallibly] tracks. But this is similar to the way we have color sense that tracks some stuff too - or similar to a point. After all, there are different colors in different languages, whereas the basic terms about health, sickness, etc., are not changed in that manner. I think that's because we care about those states considerably, whereas there is not a similar emotional attachment to colors, so there is more room for variation in the way human language develops in relation to color perception.
Even so, color perception - with some variation - is very similar across humans. Roughly, I think a similar story applies to health, proper function, etc.
Speculatively, I'd say if smart, talking aliens evolved in different conditions, still I think they'd probably have (barring genetic engineering) something akin to our apprehension of health, sickness, etc., even though not quite the same. Even more speculatively, I would probably expect a greater overlap between the referent of their alien-health terms and our health terms than in the case of alien-color terms (if they have something akin to color vision too) and color terms.

Mark Rogers said...

Hey Angra!
You said
"in every world with the same past as this world, you freely chose exactly the same things you chose in this world - and moreover, in such a world, every world with the same past as our world also has the same future."

It just made me think that if there were such a possible world identical to ours with the same mind states etc. the you in that world would be identical to you in this world and would not behave otherwise than you. If this creature can not behave otherwise and you are identical to a creature that can't behave otherwise you can not have freedom either.

entirelyuseless said...

Angra, regarding God's foreknowledge, the traditional idea of God argues that God is not only unchangeable, but that he could not have been different from what he is in any way. So "God believes that I will eat breakfast tomorrow" and "God believes that I will not eat breakfast tomorrow" do not describe different states of affairs, but the same state of affairs, except in a logical relation to two different future events. So it is not true that for every world with this past, I do the same thing in the future, because this past is compatible with both of those statements.

For comparison, this is a lot like the fact that "I see a man" and "I see an ape", when I see a figure off in the distance, may well describe the same situation of my eyes, just in relation to two different things. You could reply that my seeing is imperfect in this case, so it seems that God's knowledge is also imperfect, but after all every statement about God is said to be an analogy, so what follows in my case may not follow in God's case.

Angra Mainyu said...

Mark:

If a being mentally identical to me in the past wasn't free, then I'd say I wasn't free, either, but that's not what I was trying to argue. I'm not sure what he (or I) wouldn't have freedom.

Angra Mainyu said...

entirelyuseless:

"So "God believes that I will eat breakfast tomorrow" and "God believes that I will not eat breakfast tomorrow" do not describe different states of affairs, but the same state of affairs, except in a logical relation to two different future events."
I disagree with the traditional view, then. Those two states of affairs seem to be clearly distinct.

"For comparison, this is a lot like the fact that "I see a man" and "I see an ape", when I see a figure off in the distance, may well describe the same situation of my eyes, just in relation to two different things. You could reply that my seeing is imperfect in this case, so it seems that God's knowledge is also imperfect, but after all every statement about God is said to be an analogy, so what follows in my case may not follow in God's case."
But then the case is not relevantly analogous.
Moreover, while "I see an ape" and "I see a man" may be used to describe the same image in your mind, a more precise description is simply that you see a figure that has two arms, two legs, one head, etc., and you can give more details if you were looking at the object. On the other hand, if God "sees" that I will write "A" (in a world where I will) and God sees that I will write "¬A", he's seeing different things (i.e., his mental state is different).

If the traditional view is that all of God's mental states are exactly the same in all possible worlds, I don't think that's compatible with omniscience.

Angra Mainyu said...

Richard:

In re: disagreement.

"Do you think this sort of peer-deference move is rational when judging questions of intrinsic goodness? Or do you think each agent should stick nearly only to his own intuitions, not those of others?"
I don't have a general theory, and there is the question is what counts as a peer. For example, there are people who are intelligent, knowledgeable about philosophy, thoughtful, etc., but with widely varied moral views. I think some views may be dismissed immediately (e.g., the view that it's morally good to execute heretics, apostates, adulterers, etc.), but others are more difficult. If possible, one can test the matter by asking them about their views, and see whether their prima facie intuitions endure.
For example, in the case of the intuition that uniqueness is intrinsically good, one may raise the example of identical twins against the view that having a unique DNA is intrinsically good. Most people I suppose will no longer insist on the uniqueness claim (some perhaps will, but perhaps you'll find a much higher rate among people supporting bans on abortion (since those "unique DNA" arguments are common among them)), with regard to DNA.
One may also introduce the issue of people who are similarly intelligent or creative (on this or other planets, or in the future or the past, etc.), and ask them whether they think the existence of those people makes a person's creativity, intelligence, etc., less good. And so on.
Do those intuitions persist? Are they changed?
I'm sorry I can't be of more help, but I have no general procedure.


In re: (C), the argument that foreknowledge led to the same future isn't affected by timebackward causation, for the following reason:

Let's say that in world W, the truthmaker for [At t', P] is such as to deterministically cause it to be the case that at t, God knows that at t’, P.
It remains the case that at t, God knows that at t', P. Than entails that God is in a certain state of mind at t, namely he believes* that at t', P (here, "belief*" stands for whatever that state of mind is, whether properly a belief, an intuitive apprehension, or whatever it is). God's belief* that at t', P, was caused by a future event, but nevertheless, it's there.
Now, if W' is a possible world with the same past as W up to (and including) t, then in W', at t God believes* that at t', P (in W', since that's God's belief* about what will happen). Given essential infallibility of God, it follows that in W', at t', P.

That said, I suspect you might not consider that a restriction to freedom because of time-backwards causation. Is that what you're getting at?

Alexander R Pruss said...

This discussion, while interesting, is drifting far off topic. Please desist.

Matthew 1 said...

Hey Dr. Pruss, The website "The Browser" linked to this blog post today. Check it out: https://thebrowser.com/#