Saturday, November 3, 2007

Logical fatalism, compatibilism and theism

In my previous post, I discussed logical fatalism and the options available. One of these options I labeled as "compatibilism" which I defined as the denial of the principle:
(1) If it is now necessary that I will do A, then I will not be freely doing A.
I was wrong to label the denial of this "compatibilism". It is possible to deny (1) and still hold that free will and determinism are incompatible, as long as one holds:
(1*) If a present state of affairs outside of me deterministically causes me to do A, then I will not be freely doing A.
Someone who denies (1) but accepts (1*) will still be an incompatibilist as long as we assume that in a deterministic system earlier states of affairs not only determine later ones but deterministically cause the later ones, so that if determinism holds, the state of the universe prior to my conception would deterministically cause all my actions, and hence vitiating my freedom. (C deterministically causes E provided C causes E and the occurrence of C cannot but cause E.)

Thus, there is a nice variant of the option I called "compatibilism" available: deny (1) but hold on to (1*). It is also worth noting that theists have independent reason to do this. It is necessarily true that God does not choose evils. We then need to deny (1) (or its variant for non-actions, but the same goes for it) in order to hold on to the idea that God is responsible for not choosing evils. And we can hold on to (1*), because nothing external to God causes his actions.

So while I find (*) implausible, denying (1) but holding on to (1*) may be the best solution since by holding on to (1*) one gets to maintain most of our incompatibilistic intuitions about free will.

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