Compatibilism is the view that free will is not inconsistent with causal determinism. This post will not attempt to answer if compatibilism is correct. Rather, it will examine whether compatibilism is consistent with middle knowledge. Recently, I have noticed a growing trend among professors and theologians to embrace both of these truths. Are they compatible? For a discussion of what middle knowledge is, click on any word in this sentence.
One should recall that an essential feature of compatibilism is causal determinism. Yet middle knowledge, by definition, is the logical moment between natural and free knowledge. Everything in the content of God’s free knowledge is present there because of God’s will. Everything present in the content of God’s natural knowledge is there because it is necessary. Middle knowledge describes those truths that, like truths in free knowledge, are contingent; middle knowledge describes those truths that, like natural knowledge, are not up to the choosing of God. This is because those counterfactuals are construed to be logically prior to God’s creative decision to act. These counterfactuals, known to God, would allow God to choose any number of the quadrillions upon quadrillions of possible worlds.
But precisely because of this, compatibilism and middle knowledge do not work together. Since the truths of middle knowledge come logically before God's determining of the actual world, human free choices belonging to a middle knowledge just aren’t determined causally. Now perhaps the compatibilist would wish to argue that these truths are true on God’s free knowledge; but then it would not be middle knowledge after all.
Compatibilism seems to result in the truths of middle knowledge belonging either to necessary or free knowledge. If God causes them, then they belong to free, and if they are true necessarily (and not due to divine will), then they belong to natural knowledge. In short, there is no such thing as compatibilist middle knowledge.
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