Saturday, April 23, 2016

Molinism, Middle Knowledge, and Free Will

On the Molinism Facebook group, I recently answered a question about Molinism. The question will appear in italics, and my answer follows. Enjoy!

On Molinism, Libertarian free will is possible because God's Middle Knowledge is located logically prior to His divine decrees. If God's counterfactual knowledge is located logically posterior to His divine decrees, then this removes the possibility of libertarian freedom, since, God's knowledge of counterfactuals are subsumed into His free knowledge given that God has already decreed the world he desired to actualize. Thus, what would be counterfactually known by God is known because He has already decreed that it should be the case.

If God's counterfactual knowledge is logically located posterior to His creative decree, libertarian freedom is out of the question since man must choose what he does since God has ordained that he does without taking into consideration libertarian free will decisions logically prior to His creative decrees.

As I am processing the above points, I guess my question is: How does having God's counterfactual knowledge logically prior to His creative decree preserve libertarian freedom...I think I know the answer, but perhaps you can clarify any missteps I have made.

I think I might be able to help (depending on any more specific questions you may have or that might arise). You write, "On Molinism, Libertarian free will is possible because God's Middle Knowledge is located logically prior to His divine decrees."

However, this is not precisely the case. If any aspect of God's knowledge were to be the cause of man's choice (or entail that God caused it), then libertarian freedom is destroyed. Instead, libertarian freedom is possible, and God knows the counterfactual choices that free creatures would make in any possible set of circumstances; on Molinism, God knows these truths pre-volitionally, but they are not necessary, either.

The content of God's middle knowledge, then, depends on the content of creaturely free choices, and not the other way around. This is crucially what distinguishes Molinism from other full-omniscience* libertarian views, like classical Thomism.

*I'm using "full-omniscience" as a really rough placeholder for a detailed description of views that take it to be the case that God knows counterfactuals of creaturely freedom.

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