STA on fatalism

St. Thomas points out that this argument…

If God knows the future determinately, the future must exist determinately

And God knows, etc.

Therefore the future is determinate.

…is identical to this argument:

If Sioux Falls is on the map, it is a small dot

But it is on the map.

Therefore, Sioux Falls is a small dot.

In other words, you can’t take God’s knowledge of the future as proving it is determinate in reality any more than you can take the mapability of Sioux Falls as proving that the whole town is, in reality, a small dot.

We can make the opposition sharper by pointing out the difference between understanding an arpeggio and a real arpeggio: understanding grasps all at once something that, if it existed all at once, would not be an arpeggio but a chord.

 

Advertisements

9 Comments

  1. December 17, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    The two Modus Ponens arguments are of course both valid. The two premises of the first, however, are at least plausibly true and so too the conclusion. This is not the case for the second, for anyone knowing anything about maps would recognize that the antecedent affirmed, “Sioux Falls is on the map,” is not literally true.

    • December 17, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      anyone knowing anything about maps would recognize that the antecedent affirmed, “Sioux Falls is on the map,” is not literally true.

      I have no objection to this, so long as you also say that such a person could use this knowledge to tell him something about why God’s determinate knowledge of the future does not make the future determinate in reality.

      • December 17, 2015 at 3:45 pm

        I fail to see the parallel between the two second premises. That of the first argument has, as I said, some plausibility, even after one gives it some thought. The second does not.

        And, it seems to me, the same can be said of the two first premises.

      • December 17, 2015 at 3:53 pm

        Why is not plausible to say Sioux Falls in on the map? Look, here it is
        .

      • December 17, 2015 at 4:14 pm

        It’s certainly plausible if accepted as a manner of speaking or as an easy way of saying, “A map of Sioux Falls is found as a part of the map of South Dakota.” But a map of Sioux Falls is not Sioux Falls. The former is indeed on or a part of the while the latter is not.

        The real question, however, is that of how God could know, “determinately” or at all, that I will dream about palm trees tomorrow morning at 3:00 am unless it is determined, even as of now, that I will dream about palm trees tomorrow morning at 3:00 am. I would certainly welcome a way out were I convinced that there is one.

      • December 18, 2015 at 8:39 am

        The real question, however, is that of how God could know, “determinately” or at all, that I will dream about palm trees tomorrow morning at 3:00 am unless it is determined, even as of now

        But this is entirely the point, surely: what even makes this a question at all, any more than it’s a question of how Sioux Falls can have a location on a map unless it is a bit of color on a map? God’s knowledge of X is certainly distinguishable from X, just as Sioux Falls on a map is distinct from Sioux Falls. And plausibility is merely illusion or sleight of hand unless there is an underlying account of why it’s different from the implausible cases.

  2. Jack said,

    December 18, 2015 at 12:40 am

    Just because the argument presented here is flawed, does not mean that God cannot still truly know the future without having a predetermined future. It is as simple as distinguishing between the tense of seer and seen. For an event like your dream to be predetermined, would mean that a present seer can see that future event. God is outside of time, so when we say he knows the future we really mean that he knows the present in the future because to him the future is present.

  3. December 22, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Saying that the past is determinate does not mean it has absolute necessity. The necessity is hypothetical; given that something happened, one must necessarily admit that it happened. It still did not happen of necessity.

    Likewise, the syllogism only concludes that the future has hypothetical necessity; given that God knows that I will eat breakfast tomorrow, one must admit that I will eat breakfast tomorrow. This does not mean that it will happen of necessity.

    And consequently there is no need to deny the validity of the first argument in order to reject fatalism.

    • December 22, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      Your solution is the Boethian one that distinguishes necessity of the consequence from the necessity of the consequent. This is a fine refutation too. But this point deserves some criticism:

      consequently there is no need to deny the validity of the first argument in order to reject fatalism.

      Consequently! hey-oh ! (rimshot)

      But seriously folks… both you and Rchard seem to think that the point of the analogy is to prove the first argument invalid or unsound, when in fact the point is simply to point out that, as STA would put it, when an antecedent speaks of something as it is known or represented, the consequent treats it in the same way. The second argument is a perfectly sound and valid argument for Sioux Falls as known as opposed to how it really exists.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: