Monday, May 25, 2020

Subjective sameness of choice situations and Molinism

Suppose that Alice on a street corner sells Bob a “Rolex” for $15. Bob goes home and his wife Carla says: “You got scammed!” Bob takes the “Rolex” to a jeweller and finds that it is indeed a Rolex. He goes back to Carla and says: “No, I got a good deal!” But Carla says: “But if it was a fake, you would have bought it, too.”

Here is Carla’s reasoning behind her counterfactual. A typical fake would have looked the same as the real thing to Bob, and so the counterfactual situation where Bob is offered the fake would have been subjectively the same to Bob. And Carla subscribes to this principle:

  1. If you were instead in a different situation that was subjectively identical to the one you were in, you would have chosen the same way.

I find (1) pretty plausible, and it seems to nicely come out as true on a Lewis-style account of counterfactuals in terms of similarity of worlds (with approximate match counting as similarity).

But I doubt a Molinist should accept (1). For the Molinist does not think that counterfactuals of free will are grounded in similarity of worlds (except of the trivial sort, where truth values of counterfactuals count as part of the similarity).


Walter Van den Acker said...


The problem is that for a Molinist, counterfactuals do not seem to be grounded in anything.

William said...

Is (1) also not true of the outcomes of quantum superpositions, if they would collapse to two different states given the same circumstances each time?

Alexander R Pruss said...

William: What would be the analogue of "subjective sameness" in that case?

William said...

Maybe: if locally the same, then the same to the particle?