Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Molinism & The "Five Points" - Reconcilable?


I said many years ago that one of the biggest threats to Reformed theology is the high-Arminianism of Molinism. Many have been taken captive by its subtle charm, but in the final analyses it is nothing more than dressed-up (rank) Arminianism. There is really nothing new under the sun.

Below I have tried to address, although briefly, Libertarian free will (LFW) and its implications with respect to what is commonly called the "Five Points". LFW is the pillar upon which Molinism stands or falls; so if LFW is not compatible with the Five Points, then neither is Molinism.

To affirm libertarian freedom and all its implications is to deny the intentions of the “Five Points”. Yet, strangely enough, it is my experience that a growing number of Christians think that Molinism is compatible with Reformed thought in general and the "Five Points" in particular.

I found it easier to discuss LFW as it comes to bear upon the Five Points in an unusual order of ITPUL, which sounds more middle eastern than Dutch, I know. But do keep in mind that tulips, although associated with Holland, originated in the Persian Empire!

I
For libertarians, men can choose between alternatives with equal ease - according to their own agent-causation, from a posture of neutrality. Accordingly, to affirm LFW is to deny that irresistible grace is necessary for a dead man to repent and believe.

Moreover, libertarians affirm that the only choices men can be held morally responsible for are choices that are libertarian in nature. The reason being, it is held by libertarians that choices that are caused by something other than the agent (such as in the case of irresistible grace) are deemed as robotic puppetry and consequently not morally relevant with respect to human responsibility. However, when man chooses according to irresistible grace, the choice made is indeed morally relevant with respect to human responsibility, which is contrary to the libertarian tenet that only agent-caused choices are relevant in this way. Coming to Christ by irresistible grace is in fact the most morally relevant choice a man will ever make and one for which he will be held accountable to have made. Consequently, one may not affirm irresistible grace on the suppositions peculiar to LFW.

T
If man can come to Christ apart from irresistible grace then he cannot be totally depraved by definition.

P
Sophisticated libertarians may affirm “eternal security” but NOT the grace required for the perseverance of the saints, which is nothing other than God’s preservation of the saints. This is a bit nuanced (but not too bad) so bear with me. The bottom line is this: Perseverance of the saints entails God’s keeping of the saints throughout the Christian life by the sovereign and will-invading power of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of perseverance, therefore, presupposes that our persevering faith is not according to a will that is so free as to be able to reject Christ, but rather our perseverance is according to a faith that is sovereignly sustained by the Holy Spirit.

The way in which some libertarians may hold onto "eternal security", which is not the same thing has upholding perseverance of the saints, is thusly:

For the libertarian, the reason God’s elect will not deny the faith is not because God will complete the work he has begun in men by causing them to truly believe until the end. Rather, the reason one will not lose his salvation is merely because God has chosen to actualize a world in which those that come to Christ according to their LFW will also choose by that same LFW not to depart from Christ. Although tricky-Molinists can “consistently” affirm eternal security in this way, they cannot do justice to the distinctly Calvinistic teaching that it is God who by his sovereign grace causes men to persevere. What must be grasped is that perseverance is not only concerned with the final result of bringing many saints to glory, but rather it is concerned with God’s part in how that end is achieved. Perseverance plainly teaches that man is kept by God. Whereas the tenets of LFW suggest that it is man - not God - who ultimately causes himself (through agent-causation) to (a) differ from another, (b) come to Christ and (c) remain in Christ. In sum, for the libertarian who affirms eternal security (not all do), it is accomplished this way: God chose to actualize a world in which those who come to Christ will cooperate according to their LFW and choose to remain in Christ, but it is possible that they won’t (due to their LFW) even though they will (by their LFW). They do not persevere by the Calvinistic notion of sovereign grace, but rather they persevere by cooperating with the quality of grace that God offers all men.

U
Unconditional election entails that God chooses men without any consideration for foreseen faith. For the libertarian, the proposition, “Ron would believe in such a circumstance if presented the gospel” is not grounded in God’s determination but in man’s free agency. For the libertarian, whether one is elect-able unto salvation is dependent upon whether the man would believe (according to the non-gift of LFW) if presented the gospel, which is conditional election. The doctrine of unconditional election presupposes that God could have elected unto salvation any fallen man had we wanted. Given LFW, it was only feasible that God could have chosen in Christ those who would cooperate with resistible grace.

L
The eternal design was that Christ's substitutionary and vicarious death was on behalf of only those who were (a) unconditionally elected in Christ, (b) totally depraved and (c & d) needed irresistible and persevering grace both to come to Christ and remain in him. Accordingly, a philosophy that damages any of the other four points also undermines particular redemption.


Ron

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38 comments:

Paul said...

Hi Ron,

In a recent book (2010 date), Sovereignty and Salvation, Molinist Kenneth Keathly argues that only 3 of the 5 points can be accepted by a Molinist (and, a fortiori, an Arminian). He also developes his own counter-tulip acronym that he calls ROSES:

R - radical depravity
O - overcoming grace
S - sovereign election
E - eternal life
S - singular redemption

He engages (to different extents) with Calvin, Turretin, Edwards, Bavinck, Berkhof, Helm, Carson, Frame, Sproul, etc. I'd familiarize yourself with the book as I thinkmany Arminian epologists will be using its arguments. I recently bought the book but have only skimmed it. He lands some punches since many of the Calvinist popularizers are not sophisticated action theorists and most hold to the questionable classical compatibilism of Hume and Edwards.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hi Paul,

Well sure, there are many "three pointers" out there but that's by creed I would think and not due to any consistency on their part. They have no claim on three points IMHO.

Best wishes,

Ron

Anonymous said...

Ron: You say in your post: “For libertarians, men can choose between alternatives with equal ease - according to their own agent-causation, from a posture of neutrality. Accordingly, to affirm LFW is to deny that irresistible grace is necessary for a dead man to repent and believe.”

Another Blogger interacted with you on this new article and said:

“This is not entirely accurate. Firstly, a libertarian need not hold that for every choice an agent makes, he is able to do otherwise. I think this is kind of wacky, actually. A libertarian could hold that only some of our choices are such that we could do otherwise, or perhaps even very few of them, though the ones that are are significant.”

What do you say?

He said something else too: “Secondly, it may just be a fact that no feasible creaturely world-type contains counterfactuals of freedom where any one person freely decides to repent of his sins under some circumstances, so any repentance to be brought about must be initiated by God against the will of the creature. So the Molinist need not hold that some people out there will and can repent of their sins and believe apart from God's initiating the process.”

What do you say about this?

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ron: One more thing you wrote: If man can come to Christ apart from irresistible grace then he cannot be totally depraved by definition.

The other guy wrote this:

"This is confusing also. What does it mean to say that if it were possible that a man come to believe in Christ apart from irresistible grace, then he would not be totally depraved? That there is no set of circumstances where he decides, apart from the work of God in his heart, to believe in Christ as his savior? Why can't the Molinist hold that this is true also? There is no feasible world where any one agent decides freely to repent and believe of his sins in some circumstances"

Please comment!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

A,

Let me address both posts in one shot. Let me say up front - what a mess! :)

Firstly, a libertarian need not hold that for every choice an agent makes, he is able to do otherwise. I think this is kind of wacky, actually. A libertarian could hold that only some of our choices are such that we could do otherwise, or perhaps even very few of them, though the ones that are are significant.”

Your friend is simply defining the terms any way he likes and then pointing to his made-up terms to vindicate his position.

At the heart of the libertarianism is the notion that an agent can choose other than he does, always. The agent need not be able to choose all contrary choices but he can, at the very least, refrain from choosing what he does choose, which presupposes the ability to do otherwise. That’s a matter of definition and not open to debate.

“Secondly, it may just be a fact that no feasible creaturely world-type contains counterfactuals of freedom where any one person freely decides to repent of his sins under some circumstances, so any repentance to be brought about must be initiated by God against the will of the creature.”

According to LFW, even if a man would not repent in any feasible world (i.e. those worlds God could have actualized had he wanted), it is still true according to libertarian thought that the man could repent; he just wouldn’t (freely) repent in any of those worlds. That God must bring the repentance about (because the agent wouldn’t cooperate) does not negate the libertarian tenet that the agent could repent. Moreover,
if God brings about repentance efficaciously, then the choice is not according to LFW (by definition), which would reduce the choice to a puppet’s “choice”, which is no choice of all for the libertarian, at least not one that is morally relevant. It would be forced and contrary to the will, so they say.

So the Molinist need not hold that some people out there will and can repent of their sins and believe apart from God's initiating the process.”

Given LFW, one could always repent, even if he never would.

"What does it mean to say that if it were possible that a man come to believe in Christ apart from irresistible grace, then he would not be totally depraved?"

By definition, if a man is totally depraved, then he cannot apart from efficacious grace respond to the gospel. Those terms are a matter of definition – both for the Arminian and the Calvinist.

That there is no set of circumstances where he decides, apart from the work of God in his heart, to believe in Christ as his savior? Why can't the Molinist hold that this is true also?

The Molinist may only hold to such a position if he denies the meaning of Total Depravity, which is a definition agreed upon by Arminians and Calvinists. By definition, Total Depravity means that apart from irresistible grace man cannot come to Christ. Molinists believe that man can come to Christ apart from irresistible grace, but that Arminian doctrine presupposes that man is not totally depraved, which thinking Arminians appreciate.

Obviously the blogger is not at all familiar with the Five Points of Calvinism, which were simply a response to five points that were put forth by the Dutch Remonstrants. As well, the blogger does not appreciate the Molinist distinction of “would” and “could” (and “will” and “can”), let alone what LFW entails.

Cheers,

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

A,

I wrote in the Blog post: “For libertarians, men can choose between alternatives with equal ease - according to their own agent-causation, from a posture of neutrality. Accordingly, to affirm LFW is to deny that irresistible grace is necessary for a dead man to repent and believe.”

The necessity in view is obviously due to the total depravity of man. The deadness of man presupposes his inability, and consequently leads to the necessity of irresistible grace to save all men. The other blogger proceeds at best in an equivocal manner by implying a a “necessity” for irresistible grace given one who would not come to Christ according LFW. Let me explain the fallacy…

Consistent with Molinism can be a total scenario wherein there are possible worlds in which Corey freely chooses Christ; yet no feasible world in which he does. So if God were to want to save Corey, it would be necessary for God to draw Corey irresistibly (since Corey would not cooperate in any world God can actualize). That’s a logical necessity given Corey’s unwillingness in all feasible worlds. Notwithstanding, given that total scenario, for the Molinist irresistible grace is not necessary for Corey to incline himself to come to Christ(!) because Corey is metaphysically free. Given Corey’s unwillingness in all feasible worlds, it is "necessary" for God to save Corey by irresistible grace should God want to save Corey, but it would be fallacious to transfer that logical necessity to Corey’s metaphysical ability. The equivocation should be apparent. For the thinking Molinist, irresistible grace is never necessary for Corey to come to Christ! It is only (logically) necessary for God to use irresistible grace given a total scenario in which Corey won’t freely come to Christ any other way.

At the very least, if a Molinist were to posit that God on occasion uses efficacious grace to save men (who allegedly could come to Christ without it but simply won’t) - that in no way implies that the doctrine of irresistible grace is compatible with Molinism. After all, the doctrine of irresistible grace is that all men are so dead they require it in order to be saved.

Blessings,

Ron

Anonymous said...

Your last post clears this up for me. If you will not mind would you correct my thinking? For Molinism the "I" of can be used by God when the man doesn't go along with God's desire to save him. That is not the same thing as all men needing irresistible grace. Correct? If I am reading you the right way even that man does not really need IG if he is free.

Anonymous said...

Also... one last question... What would you do with this argument? Thanks!!!

"It seems to me I could be held responsible for a choice I make where I could not have done otherwise, if my being in those circumstances was a result of another choice I made where I could do otherwise. So, say I take a drug and it makes me such that I cannot help but to kill my neighbors. I should think I couldn't have done otherwise under the influence of the drug, but I am still responsible for the murder because the act of my taking the drug was something I could have done otherwise than."

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I think you have it right. Irresistible grace is necessary for men to come to Christ because man could not come to Christ without it. In those Molinistic examples wherein it is necessary that God employ irresistible grace for certain men to come to Christ, God does so not because the agents could not come without it but rather because they would not come. In other words, in such Molinistic examples irresistible grace is not a metaphysical necessity for the agent but rather a logical necessity for God given that the agent would not come. This would be readily conceded by Plantinga. It’s elementary. For the Molinist, in this scenario Corey needs irresistible grace, not because he could not come without it but rather because he would not come according to his radical freedom.

"It seems to me I could be held responsible for a choice I make where I could not have done otherwise, if my being in those circumstances was a result of another choice I made where I could do otherwise. So, say I take a drug and it makes me such that I cannot help but to kill my neighbors. I should think I couldn't have done otherwise under the influence of the drug, but I am still responsible for the murder because the act of my taking the drug was something I could have done otherwise than."

Well, that one suggests to me who you have been reading. In any case, given LFW, no choice is metaphysically necessary. Consequently, if the action under the influence of a drug cannot be otherwise, then the libertarian must concede that the action is not a real choice at all by libertarian standards! It’s simply an action that does not engage the will, which is always alleged to be free if a choice is to be made! Get this: For the libertarian, there is no influence that is so strong that it makes the choice metaphysically necessary. Once we step over to metaphysical necessity, we are no longer speaking of libertarian free choices and without libertarian freedom there is no choice being made but rather robotic actions, so they say!

Having said that, I have argued on this site that a man who makes a decision that results in his incarceration limits by that choice his future ability to choose as he would like. Accordingly, a man who is thrown in jail and, therefore, by logical consequence cannot provide for his family (even if he wanted to) is responsible for the repercussions of his choice that resulted in his incarceration. Notwithstanding, the person would not have lost his natural ability to work. Rather, he would have lost his ability to choose as he wants, which is a loss of liberty. However, that is not at all what this person is suggesting. At best he is positing that one can lose his metaphysical ability to choose contrary to how he would and remain morally responsible for what he cannot do, but that would undermine the very foundation of libertarian freedom, the very thing he would like to uphold! I hope you see the utter confusion.

I really ought not spend more time on this matter, at least not in this way. Rather than asking me to comment on what someone else said, maybe you might give me your thoughts and I'll interact with them. I'm even happy to entertain your thoughts as they pertain to another's. Please know that I do appreciate that you did articulate back to me your understanding on a particular matter. That was helpful as it helped me to understand where you are, or what you might be internalizing. But to simply give me another's quotes and ask me to respond does not seem to be the best use of our collective time. Fair enough? :)

Ron

Anonymous said...

I think I really do get it. Can I quote you or link the other guy to your answers?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I may not tell you what to do. Keep in mind though that my name carries no authority so if you get it, which I trust you do, then why not argue the point(s) yourself?

Paul said...

"At the heart of the libertarianism is the notion that an agent can choose other than he does, always."

Ron, allow me to say, having read a half dozen scholary books by libertarians, not to mention all the journal articles, what you say here is completely false. As you may be aware, I'm not a friend of libertarianism, but that doesn't mean I won't represent them properly.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Only a half-dozen? Well then it shouldn't take you too long to go back to those six books and bring forth a view of LFW that entails anything less than always being able to choose other than how one would. :)

LFW is not typically defined in most scholarly works; it's simply presupposed because author and reader alike understand each other.

No doubt, “Theopedia” is not all that scholarly but it certainly serves our purposes here. It defines libertarian free will as follows:

"Libertarian free will means that our choices are free from the determination or constraints of human nature and free from any predetermination by God. All "free will theists" hold that libertarian freedom is essential for moral responsibility, for if our choice is determined or caused by anything, including our own desires, they reason, it cannot properly be called a free choice. Libertarian freedom is, therefore, the freedom to act contrary to one's nature, predisposition and greatest desires. Responsibility, in this view, always means that one could have done otherwise."

Found here: http://www.theopedia.com/Libertarian_free_will

That definition is always presupposed in discussions regarding the will.

I can only think that you are trying to make one of two points:

1. Maybe you are taking a view similar to Hobbes, that coercion can override free will, but that is to commit an obvious error. That being, the will is still engaged and the desire to live can override the desire not to give the thief your wallet! Frankfurt appreciates this obvious point, which he discusses under the heading of a “hierarchical mesh”, which is no more than levels of desire. This is all rather elementary.

OR,

2.Maybe you are trying to say within the framework of libertarianism, libertarians allow for God to bring creaturely choices about by causal necessity. But if that is what you are saying, then you are not dealing with my quote adequately, or in its original context. I was clearly defining what is at the heart of libertarianism, which is libertarian freedom: “At the heart of the libertarianism is the notion that an agent can choose other than he does, always. The agent need not be able to choose all contrary choices but he can, at the very least, refrain from choosing what he does choose, which presupposes the ability to do otherwise. That’s a matter of definition and not open to debate.”

If your point is that libertarians allow for “choices” to be determined and therefore necessary, then you missed this point, which I made in bold no less: “Once we step over to metaphysical necessity, we are no longer speaking of libertarian free choices and without libertarian freedom there is no choice being made but rather robotic actions, so they say!

In other words, a libertarian may posit that some “choices” are determined and necessary, but in doing so they must also concede, if they are to remain consistent with themselves, that such choices are merely actions and not morally relevant “choices” since at the heart of moral accountability is the ability to act otherwise.

Best wishes,

Ron

Paul said...

Ron,

"Only a half-dozen? Well then it shouldn't take you too long to go back to those six books and bring forth a view of LFW that entails anything less than always being able to choose other than how one would. :)"

First off, read the source incompatibilists (the narrow one's, to use Timpe's taxonomy). Every single one of them are libertarains and every single one of them deny AP! Thus, you have those like Hunt, Stump, Zagzebski, &c., who are all libertarians and all reject the AP constraint on LFW. So, right off the bat you are shown to have an insufficient grasp of the literature, as I've just cited three prominent libertarians who all do what you say no one does. Indeed, this version is also called Frankfurt libertarianism precisely because, ala Frankfurt Counterexamples, they deny PAP!!

Second, you have wide source incompatiblists, like Kane and Timpe. Both of them (with many others) accept the sourcehood constraint as the above, but claim that AP is only needed at an initial "will setting" stage. Indeed, they allow all other actions that stem from this set will to be determined by that will. So, see Kane's Free Will: A Contemporary Introduction (Oxford: 2005), and Timpe's Free Will: Sourcehood and its Alternatives (Continuum 2008).

I've cited some of the leading libertarian action theorists who all do what you say they don't do.

"LFW is not typically defined in most scholarly works; it's simply presupposed because author and reader alike understand each other.

Oddly enough, Kane begines ch 4 (ibid) this way: 4.1 "Libertarianism defined," and the entire book is a worked out, rigorous, analytic definition of LFW.

"No doubt, “Theopedia” is not all that scholarly but it certainly serves our purposes here. It defines libertarian free will as follows:

I trust you no see the error of your ways. I would have also thought you wouldn't have stooped to the "argument from a wiki," but we do what we got to do, I guess.

"I can only think that you are trying to make one of two points:

[snip]

I now trust you can see that you are wide of the mark.

"In other words, a libertarian may posit that some “choices” are determined and necessary, but in doing so they must also concede, if they are to remain consistent with themselves, that such choices are merely actions and not morally relevant “choices” since at the heart of moral accountability is the ability to act otherwise."

Of course this simply ignores the arguments from Timpe, Kane et al., that the characters were formed in libertarian fashion, meaning they were formed indeterminately and where the agent is the ultimate source of the will-forming, and so they can be responsible for further choices. A simple analogy might be that we hold a drunk man responsible for killing people on the highway because he freely put himself in that position in the first place.

Ron, I'm on your side here. I just wanted to hep you represent your opponent correctly so as to save you the embarrassment of looking overconfident while clearly intimating that you have not even scratched the surface of the literature your opponents have written.

Hope this helped!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Paul,

Your post has nothing to do with this discussion I’m afraid. But I do appreciate that you are truly trying to help things along. Maybe you simply wanted to get some things off your chest? First off, let me say that I’m not a mind-reader. I’m glad you finally got around to saying what was on your mind. You’ll be happy to know that I have more than a working knowledge of indeterministic will-forming (i.e. will-forming from the libertarian state). It’s rather basic (and evasive). Regarding the evasiveness, I trust you will agree that will-forming theorists don’t explain the sufficient condition(s) that must be met in order for a choice to no longer be purely contingent. Why do certain constraints upon the will that are brought to bear from prior (alleged) libertarian choices have more power over future choices, to the point of making those future choices metaphysically necessary (i.e. having no feasible alternative possibility), than other types of constraints? And if there can be no distinction made, then why wouldn’t all necessary choices be equally, morally relevant? I’ll touch upon non-willful and willful actions that are the result of past willful actions (e.g. drunk drivers falling asleep apart from choosing and smashing into innocent people, and choices like drunks fighting under the influence.). For now, any willful action (i.e. choice) is morally relevant when the mind chooses necessarily, just as the agent desires.

The will-forming theory when employed by compatibilists (and all libertarians) is arbitrary and works on borrowed capital. The borrowed capital is due to the fact that libertarians have no claim on morally relevant choices that are not purely contingent. If man cannot be held accountable for a choice he makes out of a desire that God effects through providence or by direct intervention, then how can it be maintained that the same agent can be held accountable for a choice he desires that is necessitated by his own alleged effectuating (i.e., resulting necessarily from previous libertarian choices)? The inclination of the will (no matter how it is necessitated) would result in a willful action that is intended. The sufficient condition for morally relevant choices would be present in both scenarios, which is the intention of the mind that necessitates the choice. Consequently, not to allow for morally relevant choices of the former kind is to forgo any claim on the latter kind. If the libertarian wants to be consistent, he must relinquish the moral relevance of both type choices. If the former is puppetry, then so is the latter. Accordingly, will-forming, in the hands of a libertarian, reduces to a result of non-willful actions (though they will not own such consistency). Now then, I must do justice to one other matter and address whether such non-willful actions are morally relevant.

cont.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

When an action becomes necessary, it can no longer be consistently maintained by the libertarian that a choice is being made. I know they will assert moral relevance of the choice, but they are not being inconsistent. They can, however, maintain with some consistency that a morally relevant, non-volitoinal action has occurred. (I am granting of course the impossibility that the will-forming, alleged libertarian choice was indeed morally relevant to begin with; but as you well know and have argued yourself - a LFW choice cannot be morally relevant due to the pure contingent nature of the action.) With that said, obviously an action that proceeds from a morally relevant choice is a culpable action. However, given that the libertarian has no internally consistent claim on necessary choices, I am only left to address necessary non-volitional actions that result from prior choices. {In passing I might note that those who reject the PAP as a necessary condition for moral accountability do so not by using examples such as drunk drivers, for the simple reason that the actions of drunk drivers are not typically volitional or metaphysical but rather strictly natural. In other words, a car accident due to physical sleep deprivation brought about by the choice of irresponsible drinking is a culpable non-volitional act by any person’s standard (with the exception of some Strawson types). Accordingly, I think you should have used as an example a volitional act that became necessary due to a past will-forming choice. However, given my previous internal critique of “their” position, the only act left to critique is a physical, non-volitional act, which drunk driving certainly is so I’ll run with it.}

Of course there are ensuing consequences for past choices, like falling asleep at the wheel because of drinking too much. To call the action of driving into another vehicle a choice is simply to confuse categories of action. It’s an action, no doubt, that is due to a previous choice. Accordingly, will-forming has nothing to do with the matter because the action of killing due to drunkenness is not according to the will! With that horse beaten, let me gladly affirm that the (non-volitional) action is of course morally relevant; allowing, of course, for the absurd notion that the will-forming libertarian choice was indeed morally relevant while being chaotic.

Now back to my original point, which you have yet to touch. LFW entails that an “agent can choose other than he does, always.” You took issue with that statement but rather than defend your objection you have simply moved on to new observations having to do with indeterministic will-forming. Again, maybe you just wanted to get things off your chest. I could not imagine that you would have made such a blunder as to question the definition of LFW, so I took a stab at what you must have been trying to say. I first addressed the notion of levels of desire (Hobbs), but apparently that wasn’t your objection. Then I addressed the notion of determined choices (by God); yet you took issue with that, invoking Kane et al. Now that the cat is out of the bag, I’ve dealt with your objection, which was not voiced until now in any discernable fashion.

Ron

Paul said...

Hi Ron,

Of course my claim has everything to do with the claim of yours that I responded to (check the above history if you need a refresher).

I am now glad that you (seem to?) admit that your claim, to wit:

"a view of LFW that entails anything less than always being able to choose other than how one would. :)


is obviously false. That you (claim to) be familiar with the relevant litertature (though you make no effort to quote from and interact with said literature) is odd given your patently false characterization of the libertarian position.

Furtermore, and quite embarrassingly, you (hopefully not on purpose) act as if my only response was to bring up "will forming;" however, as the careful reader will note (hopefully you), I cited no less than three libertarians whe are not will-setting libertarians and still deny the PAP constraint.

Now, you may think that for one to hold to LFW then one must hold that any agent, S, always must be able to do otherwise. If so, show the entailment (I trust you are familiar with what you need to do to show entailment).

Lastly, you have a nasty habit of assuming that your arguments against a view count for a representation of that view. I know libertarians have no coherent story and flounder at their job. I do not think libertarianism provides the relevant control needed for an action to be free, and thus morally responsible. So, all your time spent trying to convince me that libertarianism is a faulty theory is time wasted. I simply came here to show, and I did, that libertarianism does not entail that an agent always has the ability to do otherwise.

Paul said...

"At the heart of the libertarianism is the notion that an agent can choose other than he does, always."

Furthermore, libertarians themselves would admit that UR and sourcehood is at "the heart" of libertarianism. Again, you've simply misrepresented your opponent, Ron. How would you feel if non-Calvinists didn't read Calvinists and then ran arround arrogantly telling people what "the heart" of Calvinism was, when, in fact, it was not the heart and the majority of Calvinist writing on the subject said as much. You'd heap scorn on them. Well, do unto others, Ron.

This will be my last response on the matter since you have given no indication that you have read or grasped the relevant literature on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Wow that is perseverance Ron! I’ll have to read that a few more times but I really think I followed you. Your writing made me understand what Paul was actually saying in his last posting to you too.

There is a couple of things you skipped probably because they were so sophomorish? but they were jumped off the page to me.

You never said that philosophers never define free will. You made the point that defining free will is not “typical” (or something like that) because both sides agreed on those terms. When Paul showed the exception to the rule he was not showing your statement wrong! They were compatible (no pun intended!). Next he said you were “arguing” by Wiki but you didn't not do that either!!! All you did was use a definition of free will and that definition was not disagreedwith by Paul so he agrees with Wiki too!

One question.... you wrote: "When an action becomes necessary, it can no longer be consistently maintained by the libertarian that a choice is being made. I know they will assert moral relevance of the choice, but they are not being inconsistent."

Isn't it true that they will only call the choice morally relevant when it comes because of their previous choice? They wouldn't call an irresistible choice caused by God a moral one would they?

Thanks!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Of course my claim has everything to do with the claim of yours that I responded to (check the above history if you need a refresher).

Paul, I’ll deal with both your posts with this last post to you.

There’s nothing substantial there to deal with this first snippet, so I’ll pass on that one.

I am now glad that you (seem to?) admit that your claim, to wit:

"a view of LFW that entails anything less than always being able to choose other than how one would." :)

is obviously false.


Obviously false? It’s neither obviously false nor did I admit to it being false. Not only are you mistaken that I recanted that LFW entails always being able to choose contrary to how one would, you are now asserting (though I don’t believe you appreciate that you are) that LFW itself, as a metaphysical notion, allows for necessity. Paul, in the spirit of Christian charity I won’t take you at your word. Rather, I’ll read you in a more chartable light. You must be conflating LFW as a metaphysical notion with what some libertarians will allow for with respect to the mechanics of choosing as it pertains to culpability. Some libertarians allow for necessity accompanied by culpability but that does not allow us to redefine what LFW means. The point is obvious but for some reason being lost on you. You are confusing LFW (or libertarianism) as a distinct philosophical notion with what many libertarians include in their overall philosophy.

cont..

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

That you (claim to) be familiar with the relevant litertature (though you make no effort to quote from and interact with said literature) is odd given your patently false characterization of the libertarian position.

I’d quote from any literature that was germane and could help advance this discussion. The problem is that you don’t appreciate that the “libertarian position” and libertarian free will are two entirely different matters that must be distinguished. Again, you have conflated LFW as a metaphysical principle with the allowance from some libertarians to include some kinds of necessity within the set of all morally relevant choices.

Furtermore, and quite embarrassingly, you (hopefully not on purpose) act as if my only response was to bring up "will forming;" however, as the careful reader will note (hopefully you), I cited no less than three libertarians whe are not will-setting libertarians and still deny the PAP constraint.

*sigh* Paul, there’s no reason to get into what each philosopher believes when you have not yet appreciated the very basics of this discussion.

Now, you may think that for one to hold to LFW then one must hold that any agent, S, always must be able to do otherwise. If so, show the entailment (I trust you are familiar with what you need to do to show entailment).

Now slow down Paul and try to grasp this. I never communicated that if one holds to LFW that, therefore, he may not hold to necessity, which is to say that he may hold to a view that does not require that S always must be able to do otherwise. I repeatedly stated that LFW by definition requires that be able to choose otherwise, but that does not imply that libertarians all agree that men only and in all cases have libertarian freedom! This nuance for some reason escapes you and it’s not even that fine of a distinction.

cont.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Lastly, you have a nasty habit of assuming that your arguments against a view count for a representation of that view. I know libertarians have no coherent story and flounder at their job. I do not think libertarianism provides the relevant control needed for an action to be free, and thus morally responsible. So, all your time spent trying to convince me that libertarianism is a faulty theory is time wasted. I simply came here to show, and I did, that libertarianism does not entail that an agent always has the ability to do otherwise.

I’ll ignore the irrelevant rhetoric and simply point out to you (once again) that you are confusing libertarianism (and LFW) with what certain libertarians allow for in their philosophy. It would be like saying that Trinitarianism includes the fall of man. No doubt, most Trinitarians believe in the fall of man but the fall of man is not a tenet of Trinitarianism. In the like manner, allowing for the necessity of morally relevant choices under certain circumstances is not a tenet of libertarianism! Are you now smacking yourself in the forehead? If so, just admit that you have misread what I have stated ever so clearly.

Again, you've simply misrepresented your opponent, Ron.

No Paul, what has occurred is that you have most hastily inferred what is nowhere implied.

This will be my last response on the matter since you have given no indication that you have read or grasped the relevant literature on the subject.

Paul, you really need to take more care with these matters. Your carelessness can be easily interpreted as you not having the acumen to distinguish the point from that which is not the point. This carelessness of yours reminds me of our discussion over Vincent Cheung in which you ended up disagreeing with me in the end but eventually acknowledged that you had did not seen the point at first: You stated late in the game: “I now see where you're coming from.” To which I responded: “I'm delighted that you now see where I'm coming from. If I was unclear before, I take responsibility. Since others saw my position from the start, maybe you might take responsibility for not reading my writings as carefully as you might have. And if you were careless in reading my writings, maybe you were careless reading Vincent’s writings.” That discussion can be found here: http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2007/12/vincent-cheung-meets-triabloguer.html

What is most unfortunate is that you do not appreciate that I stood on your playing field, addressed what you believed to be relevant rejoinders and you have continued to dig yourself deeper and deeper into a hole. Thanks for giving me the last word.

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

”One question.... you wrote: ‘When an action becomes necessary, it can no longer be consistently maintained by the libertarian that a choice is being made. I know they will assert moral relevance of the choice, but they are not being inconsistent.’

Isn't it true that they will only call the choice morally relevant when it comes because of their previous choice? They wouldn't call an irresistible choice caused by God a moral one would they?”


A,

Correct. Good pick-up. They will only refer to those necessary choices as morally relevant if the agent is the source of the causal connection that necessitates the subsequent choice.

Warmly yours,

Ron

John said...

Ron operates like a surgeon with a scalpel and Paul like a butcher with a meat cleaver.

Reformed and Reforming said...

I have enjoyed this exchange immensely. I am also a Calvinist.

Allow me please to make some comments.

You said “In any case, [I]given LFW[/I] [B]no choice is metaphysically necessary.[/B]”

That to me means that LFW is strictly a matter of contingency. No problem there. Your opponent should have grasped that without too much effort. I think he could have dran his six shooters a bit prematurely.

Then you wrote: “Consequently, if the action under the influence of a drug cannot be otherwise, then the libertarian must concede that the action is not a real choice at all by libertarian standards!”

I do not see you were saying that libertarians admit this but instead you were saying that they should concede the point out of consistency in their own system.

Only here could it get a bit vague but it should not when we interpret this quote in light of everything else you wrote. You wrote this: “Get this: [B]For the libertarian, there is no influence that is so strong that it makes the choice metaphysically necessary. Once we step over to metaphysical necessity, we are no longer speaking of libertarian free choices and without libertarian freedom there is no choice being made but rather robotic actions, [I]so they say!”[/I][/B]

Lifted out of context that could sound like individual libertarians do not allow for necessity when they do. Given all the rest of what you wrote it should have been crystal clear (at least somewhat clear) that that was not your intention…. the CHOICE is not necessary but the ACTION is necessary. Some might wish to call the action a choice… but as you rightly observed later in doing so they are working with “borrowed capital.” Even before you wrote about that borrowed capital in the second sentence you turned their criticism against certain kinds of necessity against them by pointing out that those types of actions would be “robotic actions.” Your point is very well granted. They can’t have their cake and eat it too!

Reformed and Reforming said...

You also wrote “a libertarian may posit that some “choices” are determined and necessary, but in doing so they must also concede, if they are to remain consistent with themselves, that such choices are merely [I]actions[/I] and not morally relevant “choices” since at the heart of moral accountability is the ability to act otherwise.”

I can understand how Paul got tripped up here. This is a very sharp distinction (even though you call these distinctions basic – whew!) I think what you are saying is clear but it is (quite?) a bit more difficult than you have acknowledged in my opinion. You could have worded it this way and made your point with redundant clarity: “a libertarian may posit that some “choices” are determined and necessary, but in doing so they must also concede, if they are to remain consistent with themselves, that such choices are merely [I]actions[/I] and not morally relevant “choices” since at the heart of moral accountable CHOICES is the ability to act otherwise.” The reason I put in CHOICES is that you permit for morally relevant non-choice actions like falling asleep at the wheel etc. I appreciate that I am being redundant because you already wrote in that sentence: “morally relevant “choices”. It was pretty clear to me you meant choices so my addition may not be all that helpful.

I believe you were basing your entire case on 2 points. (1) If the libertarian is being consistent he will admit that necessary choices are not real CHOICES because given their terms they cannot be willed actions because they do not involve a man’s will because they are necessary. (2) For the CONSISTANT libertarian morally valid CHOICES (not actions – choices) must always include the power to act otherwise.

I do think you and Paul agree but that you were probably talking by each other. I also think a lot of Paul’s misunderstanding MIGHT be because he might have bought into an idea that a morally relevant consequence (for lack of a better word) must include a choice being made. I appreciate your point that falling asleep is not a choice even although a choice to drink causes the non-choice happening. You never denied that the “will forming” ACTIONS were not moral in nature. In part you agree with the libertarian and I don’t know that Paul sees that from you. What you denied was that they were moral CHOICES. That’s probably the biggest subtlety of I gleaned from this whole exchange.

I am reading through your dialogue with the math department at Drexel! I might have some more comments but I’ll put them here: http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2008/08/sometimes-we-do-agree.html

Do you like Martha’s Vineyard? I see the reference on the Drexel exchange and I Googled your avatar from the Puritan Board because I had no idea what the sign meant.

Molina said...

I am a Molinist because I believe it to be the only system of soteriology that can do justice to man’s innate responsibility and God’s exhaustive middle-knowledge of all future contingencies. Because of those foundational commitments I am happy to concede the point that those “choices” which cannot be otherwise because the *agent* himself has so ordered his life as to form his will are not choices *in the same way* as those choices that consequently formed the will. Whether we can call them choices of a different sort is what I want to discuss with you. I am, also, happy to get off the table and agree with you up front that those actions - whether they are metaphysical or not - are morally relevant in God’s eyes. Lastly, you as a Calvinist have no problem calling those type actions “choices” because you believe that all choices have to be necessary *because* they are intended. What you are missing is that the libertarian also agrees that all choices – even libertarian free choices, are intended. So why can’t I call those necessary choices “choices” just like you?

By the way - we have interacted before many, many years ago.

Guess Who? :>)

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Molina: Dusty Cow, JP, Arkansas Kyle ? :)

BTW, great post!

With respect to LFW choices: If the choice-action could have been otherwise, then the intention to act could have been otherwise. Yet a different intention would require from a libertarian perspective a choice, which would of course require a more primitive intention ad infinitum. The infinite regress dilemma is peculiar to libertarianism because of the tenet that providence cannot necessitate the intention of a morally relevant choice. So, if you affirm intended choices, then we must discuss the origins of the intentions, which for the libertarian must reside within the faculty of choice. But again, a chosen intention must trigger the choice of the intention…



With respect to necessary choices from a libertarian perspective, let me address two possible scenarios. If you say that the intention can be otherwise when the resultant action is a result of will forming, then of course you undermine the necessity of the will-formed choice. In other words, if the intention is contingent then the overall choice is contingent (even though the action part of the choice is necessitated by the intention). However, if you affirm that the intention is indeed necessary, then there is no choice of the intention. (Yes, there would have been will-forming decisions in the past that necessitated the future intention, yet notwithstanding the intention itself would not have been willed.) So although you’d have a reasonable claim that the intention, being a result of previous choices, has a moral quality about it for which one is reasonably responsible, the intention itself would not have been intended or chosen. Consequently, it is a misnomer, from a libertarian perspective, to refer to such an intention and the action that follows as a moral “choice”. As I pointed out to Paul, if a necessitated intention that triggers a choice-action cannot be considered a real choice when the necessity is due to divine providence, then why should we allow for will-formed intentions and resultant actions to be considered real choices? To simply say that the agent does the one and God does the other is to beg the question. I can certainly understand (in some sense) the faulty distinction between the moral relevance of a will formed by God’s providence and a will formed by man as the ultimate source, but it is simply arbitrary to refer to some necessary intentions as leading to real choices (those not formed by God) but not all necessary intentions leading to real choices. If you allow for both to be called choices, then you would have to say that some choices are not morally relevant (the ones God necessitates), but I doubt you want to go there. So, as I see it you left to arbitrariness or you must concede that will-formed actions are not choices at all, which is just another reductio of your position.

Ron

p.s. I have so little time these days. R&R what you wrote looks good at first glance but I really can't get to it now...

pps unlike the PB, we use and tags!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

That p.p.s was to say we use <> and <> with i and /i in between

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Someone actually just wrote me: "why don't you show that a Molinist free willer can't also hold to a Calvinistic soteriology?"

Astonishing to say the least. I wonder if it ever occured to this young man that pop-Molinist WC Craig would never call himself a Calvinist. Maybe it's because he understands that Molinism is a response to Calvinism! For some reason this young man desires the label "Calvinist". Maybe it's the rich Reformed heritage he likes so much.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Unconditional election is the view that God elects without any view whatsoever to foreseen faith. That is at the very center of Reformed soteriology. Molinism bases election on foreseen faith. The two have nothing in common. Let’s be up front about that.

Anonymous said...

"Unconditional election is the view that God elects without any view whatsoever to foreseen faith. That is at the very center of Reformed soteriology. Molinism bases election on foreseen faith. The two have nothing in common. Let’s be up front about that."

Yes, yes, yes I know all that... but I prefer a little Molinism in my Calvinism from time to time especially after finals when I'm really tired and not thinking clearly. Now don't confuse me with the hard facts anymore!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

That has Chambers written all over it, but given that I'm also dealing with someone from the way past, is that RealBoy?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

R&R

I am not meaning to ignore you. Yes, I love the Vineyard. Given your private thoughts, let me elaborate here.

Libertarian free will (LFW) is the ability to do otherwise. Libertarianism adheres to this metaphysical concept. The driving force behind libertarianism is that moral responsibility requires LFW. That’s their major premise. Consequently, libertarianism holds that free will is incompatible with determinism. The chain of reasoning is: moral responsibility  LFW  No determinism. Ultimate responsibility begins the search for a sound metaphysic for libertarians, not an arbitrary commitment to LFW:

1. Moral responsibility requires the ability to do otherwise
2. If God causally determines man’s choices (determinism), then man does not have the ability to do otherwise
3. Therefore, moral responsibility necessarily implies that determinism is false

Now for so-called “libertarians”. Consistent libertarians believe that moral responsibility requires the ability to do otherwise in all cases involving choices. Some who claim the name “libertarian” don’t agree. They are at best modified-libertarians, which I would liken to a “three point” Calvinist. Is a three point Calvinist a true Calvinist? Well of course not! He’s no more a Calvinist than zero-point Calvinist. Is a two-point Trinitarian a Trinitarian? The point is obvious. That one hijacks a term is irrelevant. Now although I’m willing (to some extent) discuss the thoughts of alleged “libertarians” who are, mildly put, modified-libertarians, there is certainly no reason to modify the definition of “libertarian free will”! It would be hazardous to do so. What would be talking about when we said LFW after all?!

The power of contrary choice is necessary for libertarian thought - in order to act freely and responsibly (so it goes). Determinism does not logically comport with such freedom. Determinists must therefore index responsibility (if they are to hold to responsibility) to something else, like the freedom to do as one wants (in the realm of choices). With respect to acts that are not volitional but are of moral consequence, the act must be traceable back to a morally relevant and responsible choice for a later non-willed consequence to be morally relevant (e.g. the choice to get intoxicated leading to the non-volitional act of passing out behind the wheel of a car). Regarding will-formation, it too is incompatible with libertarian thought. After all, there is no sufficient condition offered that requires that a future choice no longer remain contingently true.

cont.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

With regard to all these scenarios that posit chips in brains and the like (certain FCE's if you will), they can be refuted thusly with respect to their usefulness: Either determinism is true or it isn’t. There is no third option. If determinism is true, then these illustrations of demons, drugs and chips are all moot; for all would be determined and responsibility would become a non-entity for the libertarian incompatibilist. Accordingly, if determinism is true, then these silly scenarios (FCE’s) do not achieve their intended usefulness, which is to show that responsibility need not be accompanied by alternative possibilities. Without responsibility (due to determinism), one cannot show that responsibility can be upheld at all, let alone apart from alternative possibilities. In other words, FCE’s don’t save the day by providing an alternative source of responsibility if determinism is indeed true. There simply would be no responsibility to be found (anywhere) in the face of determinism given a commitment to LFW as a necessary condition for responsibility.

A “grounding objection” refutation:

Now if determinism is false, then of course the demon who would operate the chip could not know whether he actually needs to operate the chip in order to achieve his desired ends until after the critical point of choice because there would be no grounding of the truth value of what the agent with the implanted chip would do. (Obviously such an argument should not be palatable to Molinists but strangely enough it’s employed by more than just Open Theists and Calvinists.) If the demon wants the agent to choose X, then the only way in which he can ensure that he does choose X is to cause him to choose X necessarily, which of course does not protect moral responsibility (in such cases) from a libertarian perspective. If the demon does not see that it is very probable that the agent will choose ~X, then the demon might roll the dice and leave the agent alone in order that he choose X “freely”, but in such cases, give the contingent nature of LFW, the desired end might not be obtained. Consequently, given libertarian freedom as a necessary condition for moral accountability, alternate possibilities must therefore apply.

An internal critique using Molinistic premises:

Finally, there is a subtle equivocation with these scenarios that utilize FCE’s. By addressing the equivocation we can attack the absurdity of the position more powerfully, even while granting exhaustive omniscience for the demon and also allowing for pure contingency of choice. In those cases where the agent chooses without outside chip-influence, he must do so (for the libertarian) from a metaphysical posture that is free. Accordingly, metaphysically speaking he could in fact choose contrary in no less sense than if he wasn’t wired to an implanted chip! It is only in those cases that he is actually externally prevented from choosing what he would that he could not choose contrary. What is relevant is that when he chooses freely he does so in a metaphysical sense, which presupposes alternative possibilities of the metaphysical kind. The impossibility of choosing otherwise is only a logical one due to the fact that it is true that the action will be physically prevented if it would occur: If he would choose ~X feely, then he’d be externally caused to choose X necessarily. Yet notwithstanding, when he would choose X freely, he indeed could (metaphysically speaking) choose ~X, otherwise he would not be able to choose X freely! It boggles the mind that W.C. Craig (and others) would undermine his own works by employing such novel attempts.

Happy Christmas,

Ron

Don P said...

Bravo! Quite conclusive. All I ask is what does this mean?

Rom 3:11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.
12 ...There is none who does good, no, not one

Wouldn't believing in God be good? Then no one does. Not one has ever sought God. and he couldn't find Him if he did because he is separated from Him by his lack of holiness. God must 1st act.

1 Cor 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Ezek 37:4 Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD."'"
NKJV

If man has free will to decide his salvation then you have deprived God of free will in choosing whom He will for His good pleasure to be His bride. And elect or chosen means nothing at all. It means, gets left with. Or confirmed or something but it does not mean what the word of God says.

It is a perverter of scripture who can twist it so for his own liking. And why? Just so he can have free will, or so God can not be sovereign. Either to me may be a deadly heresy.

Colin said...

Calvinism is disgusting. I almost left my faith because of it. It is a meaning imposed on scripture.

Reformed Apologist said...

Colin,

I'm sorry you think that way given that I believe God's glory is magnified in the doctrines of grace properly understood. If you wanted to discuss the matter in a manner that left out words like "disgusting" I'd be happy to engage a bit, even by phone.