Some Puzzles about Molinist Conditionals

Keywords: Molinism, subjunctive conditionals, counterfactuals of freedom, divine freedom, freedom of the will, Middle Knowledge, incompatibilism, circularity, Harry Frankfurt, Ockham, temporal logic


William Hasker has been one of the most trenchant and insightful critics of the revival of Molinism. He has focused on the “freedom problem”, a set of challenges designed to show that Molinism does not secure a place for genuinely free human action (Hasker 1986, 1995, 1999, 2000a, 2000b, 2011). These challenges focus on a key element in the Molinist story: the counterfactual (or subjunctive) conditionals of creaturely freedom. According to Molinism, these conditionals have contingent truth-values that are knowable to God prior to His decision of what world to actualize. This divine “middle knowledge” is supposed to enable God to execute a detailed plan for world history without any loss of creaturely freedom. Hasker has argued that this middle knowledge nonetheless deprives us of the power to do otherwise than we do, a crucial element in human freedom and responsibility.

I hope to accomplish three things in this paper. First, I want to step back a bit and explore the nature of the conditionals of creaturely free decision-making (the CCFs), bringing out some of the difficulties in delimiting their scope and nature. Second, I will explore the implications of different answers to an important question that has not been addressed in the literature: whether we have counterfactual power over the conditionals of divine freedom. And, third, I would like to recommend to Molinists a revision that offers a solution to the freedom problem.


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