Thursday, June 16, 2016

God and Modal Realism (An Exercise)

Here’s something fun to think about, but before I begin: I do want to say that I don’t really believe what I am about to write, and I think I know where the flaw is, but it makes for interesting reflection on our God.

1.     God is the most perfect being that could possibly exist.
2.     If God were to exist in and create n number of possible worlds, it would be greater for God to exist in and create n + ∞ possible worlds.
3.     If it is possible for God to exist in and create n + ∞ possible worlds, then God does exist in and create n + ∞ possible worlds.
4.     God exists in and created this possible world.
5.     So, modal realism is true (that is, an infinite number of possible worlds exist).

Have fun!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Luck and the Issue of Control

Admittedly, I need to read more on the literature surrounding the issue of luck as it pertains to libertarian accounts of freedom. Nonetheless, I want to share a brief story and relate it to the issue of luck. “Luck” is a technical term in philosophy, meaning something like “an event that takes place over which the agent has no control.” As an example, consider the person born into a wealthy family. That person had no control over that; he just as easily could have been born into a poor family, or middle-class. In this case, it is an instance of luck (as it would be whatever class he was in).

Here’s a story that I find interesting: I had received a jury summons for Wake County. I was advised to call in the night before my appointed date, and a recording would inform me whether or not I was needed. As it turns out, I was not, and my obligation was considered fulfilled. But suppose instead I decided to stick it to the man and not bother calling, intending to skip the entire process. As far as I would know, I was in violation of the court order, even though, in fact, I was in compliance. In bringing this up with my co-workers, who are not philosophers in the regular sense, we discovered an alternate scenario I am calling the “Adam Rule.” The Adam Rule (AR) is borne out of a sadistic society, and is as follows:

AR. If a potential juror calls the line at the appropriate time, then she is excused from jury duty. If she does not call, she will be arrested and executed.

Further, let’s stipulate that AR is known only to the relevant authorities, and no potential juror knows of or has reason to suspect something like AR is true. Now we can analyze the relevant facts to see if the traditional luck explanation (luck is something over which the agent involved has no control) holds.

1.     The juror’s calling in. This seems to be a fact over which the potential juror has control and is not luck. The traditional model holds.
2.     AR. This seems to be a fact over which the potential juror has no control, and yet is luck. Once again, the traditional model holds.
3.     The two outcomes: excused or executed. This is a fact that the potential juror seems to have at least partial control over, since whether the juror is excused depends on whether or not she calls in, the latter fact having been granted “control status” for the agent. Yet it is also a matter of luck, since the determiner of the outcomes for the respective behaviors is not up to the potential juror.

So it may be that issues of luck arise even for agents who exercise partial control with respect to certain events. I’m open to hearing more, both for your opinions and any relevant works with which you are familiar!