Monday, February 4, 2013

A thought about Molinism

Ordinary subjunctive conditionals "were A to hold, B would hold" tell us about how B depends on A. But if that's what Molinist conditionals did, then they would undercut freedom on incompatibilist grounds. So Molinist conditionals aren't the same as ordinary subjunctive conditionals. But if they aren't the same, then it is difficult to see how they are introduced in a meaningful way. Moreover, the Molinist conditionals are treated as if they were ordinary for the purposes of divine decision theory. So this is a problem.


Michael Gonzalez said...

I fully agree. I have never liked the Molinist idea, since it seems to me that, if there is such a thing as "what I would definitely do given X" then I don't actually have free will. My decisions are more of a program or function of "if X then Y".

Marc Belcastro said...

Dr. Pruss:

Could you elaborate on the dependence relation between A and B you identified? What exactly is problematic (for the Molinist) about B's depending on A?

Alexander R Pruss said...

I was thinking that the counterfactual is a fact rather like the Lewis "dependency hypotheses" from my other post.

Brian Cutter said...

Interesting post. A couple thoughts: (i) It's widely held that not *all* subjunctive conditionals tell us how the consequent depends on the antecedent-- e.g. "backtracking" conditionals: "I didn't take the MCAT last month. But if I had, I would have studied for it in advance." Also, subjunctive conditionals of the form "If it were the case that A, it would have been the case that A" seem to be true, yet do not entail the relevant kind of dependence (assuming that irreflexivity holds of the kind of dependence in question). (ii) Incompatibilism is consistent with holding that my actions' depend on the immediately prior state of the world, so long as the dependence in question is weaker than full-on "deterministic" dependence.

Alexander R Pruss said...

I am not sure what to make of backtracking conditionals. Maybe that's just a simple way of saying: "If I was going to take ..."?

You're certainly right that some entailment-based conditionals don't involve dependence. But they're just as damaging to freedom, presumably.

All that said, you've helped to convince me that I don't want to stand by what I said in this post, at least not in its present form.