Much theological debate centers around the doctrine of election. No one debates whether election is biblical, but they do debate the meaning of election. I believe in what is called unconditional individual election (the Calvinistic understanding). Those who oppose my understanding normally believe in some sort of conditional election or corporate election (or a combination of the two; the Arminian understanding). Corporate election is the belief that God elects nations to take part in his plan, not individuals to salvation. So, when Romans 9 speaks of God’s election of Jacob over Esau, Paul is speaking of God’s choosing the nation of Israel to have a special place in salvation history. They will go on to interpret all of Romans 9-11 in light of this assumption.

However, I don’t believe that Romans 9-11 is talking about corporate election, but individual election. Here are eleven reason why:

1. The whole section (9-11) is about the security of individuals. Election of nations would not make any contextual sense. Paul has just told the Roman Christians that nothing could separate them from God’s love (Rom. 8:31-39). The objection that gives rise to chapters 9-11 is: “How do we know that these promises from God are secure considering the current (unbelieving) state of Israel. They had promises too and they don’t look too secure.” Referring to corporate election would not fit the context. But if Paul were to respond by saying that it is only the elect individuals within Israel that are secure (true Israel), then this would make sense. We are secure because all elect individuals have always been secure.

2. In the election of Jacob over Esau (Rom. 9:10-13), while having national implications, starts with individuals. We cannot miss this fact.

3. Jacob was elected and Esau rejected before the twins had done anything good or bad. There is no mention of the nations having done anything good or bad. If one were to say this is nations that Paul is talking about, it would seem that they are reading their theology into the text.

4. Rom. 9:15 emphasizes God’s sovereignty about choosing individuals. “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” The pronoun hon (whom) is a masculine singular. If we were talking about nations, a plural pronoun would have been used.

5. Rom. 9:16 is dealing with individuals, not nations. “So, it does not depend on the one who desires or makes effort, but on the mercy of God” (my translation). theolontos (desire) and trechontos (effort) are both masculine singulars that is why it is translated “the one” rather than “those.” (BTW: I don’t like ESV’s translation of this (man’s) as it is misleading and, ironically(!) supporting of corporate election). It is hard to see national implications at all here. It is about individual desire and effort. The acquisition of God’s mercy transcends the ability of man.

6. Once again, Rom. 9:18, speaking in the context of the hardening of Pharaoh, Paul summaries what he is trying to say using masculine singular pronouns: “Therefore, the one God wishes to have mercy on, he has mercy on. The one he wishes to harden, he hardens” (my translation). It would seem that if Paul was merely speaking about national or corporate election, the summary statement would change from Pharaoh to nations (plural), but the summary here emphasizes the sovereignty of God’s will (theleo) over individuals (singular).

7. The objection in Rom. 9:14 makes little sense if Paul were speaking about corporate or national election.  The charge of injustice (adikia), which much of the book of Romans is seeking to vindicate God of, is not only out of place, but could easily be answered if Paul was saying that the election of God is only with respect to nations and has no salvific intent.

8. The objection in Rom. 9:18 is even more out of place if Paul is not speaking about individual election. “Why does he still blame people since no one can resist his will.”  The verb anthesteken, “to oppose or resist,” is third person singular. The problem the objector has is that it seems unfair to individuals, not corporations of people.

9. The rhetoric of a diatribe or apostrophe being used by Paul is very telling.  An apostrophe is a literary devise that is used where an imaginary objector is brought in to challenge the thesis on behalf of an audience. It is introduced with “What shall we say…” (Rom. 9:14) and “You will say to me…” (Rom. 9:19). It is an effective teaching tool. However, if the imaginary objector is misunderstanding Paul, the apostrophe fails to accomplish its rhetorical purpose unless Paul corrects the misunderstanding. Paul does not correct the misunderstanding, only the conclusion. If corporate election were what Paul was speaking of, the rhetoric demands that Paul steer his readers in the right direction by way of the diatribe. Paul sticks to his guns even though the teaching of individual election does most certainly give rise to such objections.

10. Rom. 9:24 speaks about God calling the elect “out of” (ek) the Jews and the Gentiles. Therefore, it is hard to see national election since God calls people “out of” all nations, ek Ioudaion (from Jews) ek ethnon (from Gentiles).

11. In Paul’s specific return the the election theme in the first part of Romans 11, he illustrates those who were called (elect) out of the Jewish nation by referencing Elijah who believed he was the only one still following the Lord. The response from God to Elijah’s lament is referenced by Paul in Rom. 11:4 where God says, “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” This tells us two things: 1) these are seven thousand individuals that God has kept, not a new nation. 2) These individuals are kept by God in belief as the characteristic of their “keeping” is their not bowing to Baal (i.e. they remained loyal to God).

12. Using the Elijah illustration in Rom. 11:5, Paul argues that “in the same way,” God has preserved a remnant of believing Israel of which he (as an individual) is a part (Rom. 11:1). This “keeping” in belief of individuals is according to “God’s gracious choice” (11:5).


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    438 replies to "Twelve Reasons Why Romans 9 is About Individual Election, Not Corporate Election"

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      1. “However, I see a tiny phrase in there which hints at an interesting belief. Are you suggesting that the belief that God is unreasonable is differently acceptable under determinism than under LFW?”

      Actually I didn’t mean to say that, rather I meant to say the opposite. The belief that god is REASONABLE is acceptable under LFW, while the Truth of the statement cannot be known under determinism.

      Now that being said I think there is a degree of Truth in what you stated above. If god is ultimately unreasonable this would not matter if he is not determining all that comes to pass and humans are capable of reaching independent judgments (now of course I am talking about god generically here).

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      I agree with your objection to 5 here – I’ll rework it a bit.

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      Attempt 2

      1. Everything is determined including our beliefs and reasoning capacities (you said this not me)
      2. People believe mutually exclusive beliefs. (simple verifiable fact)
      3. Mutually exclusive beliefs cannot both be true (law of non-contradiction)
      4. People who believe the truth and people who believe falsehood both think they have come to their beliefs through reason (simple observation that most people believe they are sane and have sufficient reasonable grounds to believe what they believe)
      5. People would change their belief if they thought that the belief was brought about through erroneous reasoning (Simple observation that people don’t believe that which they belief is erroneous)
      6. Ones reasoning skills cannot be trusted if those skills have been externally rendered incapable of recognizing errors in reasoning
      7. If ones reasoning skills cannot be trusted one cannot trust the conclusions reached by those reasoning skills
      8. People believe falsehood (from 2 and 3)
      9. People have been determined to believe falsehood (from 1 and 8
      10. People who believe falsehood have committed an error in reasoning (from 4 and 9)
      11. People who believe falsehood have been determined to commit an error in reasoning. (from 1 and 10)
      12. People who have been determined to believe falsehood will not recognize that they have committed an error in reasoning. (from 5 and 11)
      13. People who believe falsehood have been determined to not recognize that have committed an error in reasoning (from 1 and 12)
      14. Our reasoning skills cannot be trusted (from 6 and 13)
      15. Our conclusions reached through reason cannot be trusted (from 7 and 14)

    • wm tanksley

      Awesome, Michael. I’ll reply probably tomorrow, I hope. My gist, I think, will be to show using your own logic and axioms that our reason cannot be trusted, even if we don’t believe determinism is true. Since this is impossible, your logic cannot be valid. (I’m just giving a teaser here, not attempting to prove it.)

      In post 352, by the way, am I clear that you believe that if the foundation of all existence, God, were irrational, you would expect the laws of logic to exist and be directly applicable by its creation to Its creation? (I find that to be a direct absurdity.)

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      Assuming god is irrational for a moment (I of course don’t believe he is). This doesn’t 1) mean that he is always irrational, or 2) that he can’t create rationality on accident. Let me illustrate. Bobby Fischer is considered one of the better Chess Players of all time. When playing chess he was completely rational, however he was also a completely irrational anti-semite. The guy was certifiably nuts when it came to his political and racial views.

    • Wade T.

      ====
      Then, consider the following premises:

      1. God knows all facts from beginning to the end of time, and He knew them at the beginning. (Claim: God’s Omniscience)
      2. God does not know both a fact and its contradiction at the same time and in the same way. (Law: Non-Contradiction)
      3. An event is fully determined if, given the same facts, it could not have happened otherwise. (Definition: Determinism)
      4. An event that in fact happens would contradict the fact of the event happening otherwise. (Definition: Event Contradiction)
      5. We are actually having this disagreement now. (Claim: Obvious)

      Therefore:

      6. God knew from the beginning of time that we would have this argument right now. (Derivation from “Obvious” and “Omniscience”)
      7. God knew from the beginning of time that we would not NOT have this argument right now. (Derivation from #6 and “Non-Contradiction”)

      Finally:

      8. Given #6 and #7, it follows that the answer to your question must be “yes” [the universe is determined such that a disagreement would happen].
      ====
      The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises, and it actually appears to be a form of the modal fallacy. Roughly, a modal fallacy is where the modal operator (e.g. the attribute “necessary” or “possible”) improperly changes scope. For example, where “necessarily” means “it couldn’t have been/can’t be otherwise:”

      1) Necessarily(If I drank a root beer, then I drank a root beer).
      2) I drank a root beer.
      3) Therefore, necessarily, I drank a root beer.

      “If I drank a root beer, then I drank a root beer” is necessarily true. However, “I drank a root beer” is not necessarily true (it could have been otherwise). Similarly, the argument below also makes the modal fallacy:

      1) Necessarily(If God knows I will do X, then I will do X)
      2) God knows I will do X.
      3) Therefore, necessarily I will do X.

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, regarding your syllogism:

      While responding to your argument, I ran into some issues which I couldn’t simply fix on my own. Let me present the first, and perhaps we can agree on a rephrasing. (The rest come later, and may be changed if we agree on something here.)

      6. (originally) Ones reasoning skills cannot be trusted if those skills have been externally rendered incapable of recognizing errors in reasoning

      This premise is highly questionable; I for one don’t accept it (so it simply won’t work as a premise for your argument). The problems with it are: (1) external influence is beside the point, compatibilists don’t believe that; (2) incapability is beside the point, we’re finite and capable but only so much time and effort to spend making perfect judgments; (3) the purpose of reasoning isn’t to find absolute truth, but rather to find conclusions consistent with the premises.

      I have a hard time proposing a replacement, since this is your axiom. Everything I’ve considered proposing doesn’t lead to a good argument for you, and that’s not your fault :-).

      We might start by breaking down #6 into smaller bites. What makes a capability (like reason) trustworthy?

      6a. A skill can be trusted if it works consistently for its primary purpose.
      6b. The primary purpose of reasoning skills is to find whether proposed beliefs are consistent with the rest of the individual’s beliefs.

      (Oops, 6b is TRUE, but doesn’t help you; a belief being consistent doesn’t make it true. Your argument doesn’t address whether people believe internal inconsistencies.)

      Do you have a suggestion?

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, I don’t know how to take your argument/admission regarding the rationality of God. You unmistakably place a vastly higher importance on the freedom of man than you do on the nature of God, and I’m confused. Let me try to count off a few problems I see:

      1. Libertarian freedom isn’t directly related to reasoning: much reasoning is constrained (and can be done by trivial computer programs). In fact, reasoning could be (in principle) replaced by a computer with huge storage capacity that would just map all possible questions to the best possible answer. So I don’t see why libertarian freedom should in itself matter.
      2. Irrationality is directly related to reasoning, obviously.
      3. God is the ground of all being; any quirks in His nature should normally affect anything and everything.
      4. Man is not the ground of all being.
      5. The locus of the irrationality we’re discussing would have to be in the areas we’re discussing. We’re not talking about a God who insanely thinks he’s a chicken but CAN create valid rules of logic; we’re simply talking about whether God can create valid rules of logic. So yes, if you’re going to propose that God is irrational for the sake of argument, it’s pointless to claim that you’re proposing it for some area aside from the laws of logic, since the laws of logic are what we’re discussing.
      6. As for creating rationality on accident: I’m not sure what your definition of “confidence” is that you’ve been talking about this whole thread, but I know that it can’t possibly involve logic being correct “by accident”.

      In context, of course, I’m talking about your statement “If god is ultimately unreasonable this would not matter if he is not determining all that comes to pass and humans are capable of reaching independent judgments.”

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      1. I’m trying to understand what you mean here when you say you don’t accept it. Do you mean you don’t accept it as a premise (meaning reasoning skills can still be reliable even though they have been externally rendered incapable of recogizing falsehoold)? Or do you simply mean that a compatibilist does not believe that we are in fact externally rendered incapable of recognizing falsehood?

      If the first one is the case then I don’t really know what to say. It seems self-evident that something which is externally determined to believe falsehood and not recognize the errors in ones reasoning that lead to believing that falsehood is not in any way a reliable way for determining truth. I would need a counter example or something to make me think otherwise.

      If the second one is the case then I fully understand that, however I think you miss some of the points of the axiom one of which is demonstrating that the compatibilist system neccessitates that our reason be externally determined to not recognize falsehood. I do not bring in 6 until I’ve demonstrated in 13 that this is the case.

      2. As to the purposes of our reasoning skills. It would appear to me self-evident that there ultimate purpose is to assist us in coming to an understanding of ultimate reality. If they do not do this what good are they? Simply saying they help us determine if a belief is consistent with a existing belief strikes me as minimalistic. They do this, but they also inform us when a current belief is inaccurate or not founded upon sufficient reasonable grounds. Now of course if the reason is bound then it can’t do this, but that puts the cart before the horse. Also does this in some ways undermind the general rationality of the human race?

    • wm tanksley

      Wade, I like how you put that. I’m not committing the exact fallacy you list; but I was assuming a mechanism for God’s knowledge which, since it isn’t explicitly given in the Bible, isn’t mine to assume. I suppose this amounts to a “false dilemma”.

      It’s reasonable to propose that God’s knowledge is mysterious, and that we don’t know how it works with counterfactuals. My reasonings that the explanations don’t hold water are merely philosophical, and are too remote from the evidence to bring strong conviction with them.

      At the same time, we know with fairly strong certainty that God doesn’t merely know all possible things with no distinction: rather, God knows that the actual things will be actual. God’s knowledge doesn’t change with passing time. This means that the future isn’t being changed with passing time, either. Whatever else our actions are doing, they’re neither teaching God anything, nor changing time. (And, the Bible adds, they’re not thwarting any of God’s purposes.)

      If our wills have some mysterious power, then, it’s NOT the power of contrary choice.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      wm tanksley said,
      ====
      At the same time, we know with fairly strong certainty that God doesn’t merely know all possible things with no distinction: rather, God knows that the actual things will be actual. God’s knowledge doesn’t change with passing time. This means that the future isn’t being changed with passing time, either. Whatever else our actions are doing, they’re neither teaching God anything, nor changing time. (And, the Bible adds, they’re not thwarting any of God’s purposes.)

      If our wills have some mysterious power, then, it’s NOT the power of contrary choice.
      =====
      If by contrary choice you mean libertarian free will, what is the argument (premises + conclusion) for that? In light of the modal fallacy I mentioned at http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/10/eleven-reasons-why-romans-9-is-about-individual-election-not-cooperate-election/comment-page-8/#comment-41731 I simply don’t see how that follows from divine omniscience.

      Incidentally, how do you get those nice vertical dark yellow bars I saw at http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/10/eleven-reasons-why-romans-9-is-about-individual-election-not-cooperate-election/comment-page-8/#comment-41646 ? Also, is there a “friendly” way to post links?

    • wm tanksley

      Wade, to put the green bar to the right of some text, go to the beginning of the text, type <blockquote>, then go to the end of the text and type </blockquote>. (If you’ve seen any HTML this will be familiar.)

      Proper links are much harder, so let me know if that makes sense to you first.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      I’m a computer science major and have used the “blockquote” technique quite a few times before. So let’s see if it works:

      Somebody said something and there should be a groovy bar to the left of this paragraph.

      Cool. Thanks for the help.

    • wm tanksley

      Wade, I use the term ‘contrary choice’ to denote the specific type of LFW which I believe is completely contradicted by the fixity of God’s plans, according to my argument above. There may be another type of LFW that is not invalidated simply because it has only one possible future. (Michael pointed that out to me.)

      I’m also not committing the modal fallacy, at least as you’ve described it. I’m not assuming our actions are necessary at all. They’re not. But neither do they cause God’s omniscience to know about them, because the cause cannot follow the effect.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Okay, if you’re a (fellow) CS, you’ll know about anchor and href and tags and attributes and so on. You can take it from here :-).

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, when I said I didn’t accept it I gave three numbered reasons in the same paragraph. You could start with those. You did mention one of them, the fact that external influence isn’t part of the compatibilist ‘scheme’. Nothing in your argument proves anything about ‘external’; you apparently simply assume without even stating that the determination is done by means of direct externally originated force.

      I’d recommend replacing #6 with a series of propositions that define “trust”. There’s a gaping hole there in your argument, and something that I’ve asked you about many times. You seem to assume that only external forces can possibly undermine trust, but when I look at your argument, I see that your premises seem to point out that human’s reasoning skills simply cannot be “trusted”. I’m guessing that “trust” for you requires total certainty.

      I’m pretty sure you’re putting too much reliance in your arguments on the power of reason — I wondered about that before, since your arguments don’t even mention experience and revelation, both of which are important factors in reaching truth (without experience reason has nothing on which to operate). I note here that you assume reason has some kind of ultimate purpose. If it did, the purpose would be God’s purpose, because He’s the only ultimate being (and this purpose would support my argument, not yours). There is no being named ‘Reason’ to have an ultimate purpose. The immediate purposes of reason come from the beings doing the reasoning. The correct purpose of reason — the one in line with its capabilities — is to find inconsistencies and incompleteness in one’s beliefs. An incorrect purpose is to expect it alone to lead one to total truth.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      1.

      . Nothing in your argument proves anything about ‘external’; you apparently simply assume without even stating that the determination is done by means of direct externally originated force.

      This is because my argument is designed to be generic. It could be used both for God or for a immaterial cause and effect. However, I think it is quite obvious that this is the case

      1. God is an external force
      2. God determines all that comes to pass
      3. My reasoning that Arminianism is correct is flawed
      4. God determined that my reasoning with regards to Arminianism be flawed (from 2 and 3)
      5. My flawed reasoning with regards to Arminianism was determined by an external force. (from 1 and 4)

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      I see that your premises seem to point out that human’s reasoning skills simply cannot be “trusted”. I’m guessing that “trust” for you requires total certainty.

      I would actually agree with this criticism to a degree and have thought about modifying the argument a touch to mean that in a deterministic system we cannot have ANY certainty that our reasoning is not flawed (this would simply require adding some pronouns). In LFW I would agree we cannot have complete certainty (this side of heaven complete certainty about anything if virtually non-existent) of our reasoning faculties. Yet the relative degree of certainty would appear, at least to me, to be higher since to the extant we ignore evidence, or adopt absurd rules of evidence which lead to errors in reasoning, we do so of our own free will. In LFW we are fully capable of recognizing our errors, but choose of our own free will not to see them, in determinism we have been externally determined to not see the errors (it may appear that we are exercising free will – but every variable leading to the error in reasoning was controlled in order to ensure that the error was made).

    • wm tanksley

      1. WM, I’m aware that Van Inwagen has issues with both Free Will and Compatibilism. Most of the issues of which I am aware about Free Will have been addressed elsewhere by other authors. Not the case for Compatibilism.

      The philosophical debate is still raging, as such debates tend to; I was able to find a LOT of back-and-forth on the topic very quickly (this link is to Stanford’s encyclopedia). Most of the treatments mention that compatibilism is pretty much the standard view, with incompatibilists being a minority.

      The recent literature, according to the above link, is dominated by incompatibilists (since Inwagen, according to another biography that I’ve lost); but the above link says “… compatibilists … have, for the most part, been pre-occupied with defending free will against those who argue that free will is either impossible or empirically implausible regardless of whether determinism is true or false.” In other words, although the modern literature does tend to favor incompatibilism, it favors exactly the opposite type that you favor, those who believe full determinism is true and free will is an utter illusion.

      In fact one could argue that if human have the ability to interpret events in a non-causal manner, independent of God, then they in some sense have LFW.

      It’s amazing how far people will go to prove themselves independent of God. We are not.

      Therefore we do not have LFW in any sense which would allow us to transcend God. I don’t deny our ability to transcend physical causes (although I make no positive claim either); I deny only the ability to transcend God.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      3. I’ve already given an example of an imaginary world which is completely determined (by the laws of logic) and yet which reaches is not doomed to falsehood.”

      Of course one can create a imaginary world where their beliefs are true.

      That’s not the point — the point is that even hard determinism is totally compatible with logical correctness. The determining factor for logical correctness is the logical correctness of the designer, NOT any kind of free will.

      The important questions is not whether or not it is true directly, but whether or not we can have any certainty whatsoever of the truth value of that statement

      We gain certainty by using the belief to make predictions, and then testing those predictions. You used the term ‘independent’ loosely before, but there’s a strict sense in which it’s useful. Independent observations are ones which are not dependent on each other’s results, nor on the observer.

      Libertarian free will theoretically decouples the observer from previous causes (which sounds nice), but observational independence requires only that the observer be decoupled from the observed events, and LFW doesn’t offer that at all.

      If determinism is true ultimately the only answer one can give is “I believe it to be true, but have no idea whatsoever whether or not it is actually true.”

      Even if determinism is not true you’d still have to say something like that (in no case, however, do you have “no idea”; instead, you have incomplete information, which is not the same as NO information). Humans do not have direct access to reality (there’s always something in the way). It’s a waste of time to say every time we open our mouth, so it’s wise to replace saying that with instead adopting an attitude of humility and openness to correction.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Simple knowledge of what will happen does not logically entail that that action was determined. […] Simply because he knows which one is the factual does not indicate that he willed or determined that factual to come about.

      I admit that the argument from God’s knowledge doesn’t eliminate the entire question of determinism. My purpose in that argument is merely to point out that the contrary-choice argument is entirely contradicted by God’s knowledge. Whatever LFW might give us, it cannot give us the ability to choose between more than one equally existing (or equally nonexisting) futures. There is only one future that God knows to be factual, and that is the only future we have.

      But this means that the ‘reality’ of the choice under libertarian definition is in question, because a real entity should have actual future effects, even if it doesn’t have past causes.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      This is because my argument is designed to be generic. It could be used both for God or for a immaterial cause and effect. However, I think it is quite obvious that this is the case
      1. God is an external force
      2. God determines all that comes to pass
      3. My reasoning that Arminianism is correct is flawed
      4. God determined that my reasoning with regards to Arminianism be flawed (from 2 and 3)
      5. My flawed reasoning with regards to Arminianism was determined by an external force. (from 1 and 4)

      God is not, of course, a force, but you probably meant to say that He uses force, and I’ll simply allow that for the sake of argument (although it’s only correct if ‘force’ is left hopelessly vague). But in your #2 God does not cause most things by means of external force. God causes most things by their own natures. The most obvious and common example is the “natural world” — the laws of nature, as they’re commonly known.

      An example of this type of causation is the formation of an infant in the womb; the Bible clearly attributes this formation to God, but the formation is unmistakably directly caused by the parents’ genetic codes and chemical interactions, and although God has the power to miraculously intervene, His creation clearly does not require that.

      Now, even though God knit together the baby in the womb, is it accurate to say that God does that as an “external force”? NO! God does this from the very nature of childbearing, which He created.

      God also created our nature, and when we act according to our nature, although we are indeed fulfilling the plan of God, we are not being externally compelled by God: we are doing exactly as we wish.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      Wow it’s been awhile. I’ll respond as best I can, but I’m not sure which posts you are pulling some of these from and I don’t have the time to read through all 300 comments to find them.

      1. I have read the article in the Stanford Encyclopedia. That article (at least from what I can tell) does a good job of summarizing the positions but is a lacks precision with the current state of philosophy. Of the top of my head I can think of virtually no philosophers, Christian or secular, who hold to compatibilism or think it logically coherent. The debate these days is in large part between LFW and hard determinism.

      2. Just to define terminology what do you mean when you say you deny the ability to transcend God?

      3. On the alledged incompatibility between contrary choice free will and divine omniscience please read here. Although I hadn’t recognized it as being a modal fallacy before Wade pointed it out I think this article makes the case. http://www.iep.utm.edu/foreknow/#SH6a

    • Michael T.

      WM

      4.

      Now, even though God knit together the baby in the womb, is it accurate to say that God does that as an “external force”? NO! God does this from the very nature of childbearing, which He created.

      This is fine, but I think in reality you are simply hiding God’s direct external force here. He created and controlled all the variables to ensure that husband and wife would have intercourse at exactly the right time as to ensure that a certain sperm and a certain egg would meat up which would then set into motion everything according to prearranged laws which God also set up. This is an external force determining what is going to happen (and more importantly what we are going to believe) no matter how far you try to remove God from it. If I program a robot, to program a robot, to program a robot, to blow up a shopping mall, I am guilty of murder and terrorism all the same. There is no break in the causal chain.

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      God also created our nature, and when we act according to our nature, although we are indeed fulfilling the plan of God, we are not being externally compelled by God: we are doing exactly as we wish.

      If we were given our nature by God, and we will in a deterministic fashion, always behave according to that nature, then how can one be morally responsible? When Jeffrey Dahmer murdered and raped 17 men and boys he was simply following the programming (i.e. nature) God had determined him to have. Whe Hitler slaughtered millions of Jews he was simply folloing the programming God determined him to have. And equally when Mother Teresa helped thousands on the streets of Calcutta she was simply following her programming. None of these are any more morally blameworth or praiseworth then if a robot had done these things accoding to its programming.

    • wm tanksley

      This is fine, but I think in reality you are simply hiding God’s direct external force here. He created and controlled all the variables to ensure that husband and wife would have intercourse at exactly the right time

      Whoah, I clearly failed to state that I meant you to read that example apart from metaphysical determinism. I’m not talking about free will here; I’ll get to that after we discuss sovereignty.

      I’m explaining how God’s sovereignty over natural law applies even while natural laws are in force. Natural laws apply because God created them to apply, and therefore we ascribe to God the results produced by the continuous operation of natural laws.

      God knit King David in his mother’s womb. We know that this happened naturally, the same way it happens for all of us; yet God did it. Both statements are true.

      My body healed my broken hand; the same way an atheists’ body would. God is responsible for both.

      Extending this obvious truth to moral statements is more complex, because of moral blame. So let’s discuss first the simpler question.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Of the top of my head I can think of virtually no philosophers, Christian or secular, who hold to compatibilism or think it logically coherent. The debate these days is in large part between LFW and hard determinism.

      The Garden of Forking Paths disagrees.

      But after closely reading van Inwagen’s essay posted at his home page, I have to say that he’s probably the cause of this apparent change. The problem is that it’s only an apparent change, not an actual one.

      The Compatibilism I believe in (and Edwards championed) is a compatibilism between moral accountability and determinism. The Compatibilism Inwagen discredits is a compatibilism between “the free-will thesis” and determinism. He seems to have proven that the free-will thesis is equivalent to Libertarian Free Will in its wildest form (the power of contrary choice), and is therefore completely incompatible with determinism almost by definition.

      I agree with van Inwagen on the need for clear terminology, although I’m mildly unhappy with the terms he happens to have chosen. His document on the subject “How to Think about the Problem of Free Will” at his home page is worth reading.

      Inwagen states in that essay that the following three positions are plausible:

      1. Free will (LFW) and determinism are compatible.
      2. LFW and indeterminism are compatible.
      3. Moral responsibility does not require LFW.

      I align with Inwagen in choosing #3 as the one most likely to be true. So would Jonathan Edwards and most or all of the Calvinists I know of; so do the philosophers you call “incompatiblist” (which before Inwagen would mostly have been called compatiblist).

      Frankly, I don’t see how it’s possible to affirm #1 under Inwagen’s definitions. LFW is inherently nondeterministic.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Um… My post about Inwagen disappeared. I suppose that’s good, because it contained an error with respect to Inwagen’s current position.

      The bad news is that he’s now a believer in incompatibilist free will ;-). The good news is that he’s now a Christian. The interesting news is that he’s a non-dualist (man is made of matter only). (His paper on the Resurrection is fascinating.) See the papers on his website, in particular “How to Think About Free Will”.

      By his definitions, this means that he believes that free will exists, free will is incompatible with determinism, and therefore the universe is not deterministic. He admits that the arguments for the incompatibility of free will with indeterminism appear solid, but he believes that they will be found false.

      In order to keep my terms compatible with Inwagen’s, I have to stop using the term ‘free will’ to describe my position, which I consider unfortunate, since I believe in free will in the common sense; I simply don’t agree that the will of man performs independently of prior events. But let’s carry on, because I’ve just used a term Inwagen didn’t define: “will”.

      If free will is the ability to do otherwise, then will must be the ability to do. But this is obviously ambiguous. I propose that will should be the ability to intend to fulfill some of one’s existing desires. (Free will then has an obvious definition which appears perfectly in conformance with Inwagen’s free-will thesis: in short, to be able to intend otherwise, or at length, to intend to fulfill either other existing desires or to intend to fulfill them otherwise than one actually did.) This doesn’t commit us to a theory regarding the strength of desires, nor the claim that there’s a single strongest desire, so I think freedom is preserved.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      One other thing that was lost from my reply: the blog “The Garden of Forking Paths” points to a survey of philosophical papers, and they say that 59% are compatibilist.

      I’ve been entirely unable to find any information about the Consequence Argument being modified into an undisputed form, EXCEPT as a bare claim in HowThinkFW.doc that it’s undisputed. The various philosophical encyclopedias do show modifications that were made after Beta was disproven, but those modifications uniformly weaken the argument to allow it to be gotten around.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      Few things

      1. If you are simply saying that there exist physical laws created by God by which things work of course no one is going to deny that (well some would of course deny the created by God part). I honestly don’t know where you want to go with that since I deny that physical laws determine all that comes about (and I think you would too as otherwise one is left with a broadly deistic god, not the God of the Bible).

      2. Those are interesting statistics you give. I would be interested to know their methodology and who they are polling and especially from what time period. As I’ve indicated elsewhere compatibilism was all the rage at the beggining part of the 20th Century and didn’t come under attack until the 2nd half. It was none other than Alvin Plantinga who declared it dead (I’ll see if I can find the quote – but I’m kinda busy).

    • wm tanksley

      If you are simply saying that there exist physical laws created by God by which things work of course no one is going to deny that (well some would of course deny the created by God part). I honestly don’t know where you want to go with that since I deny that physical laws determine all that comes about

      No. I’m saying that God’s ordinary providence is seen by us as Natural Law. We know the law of gravity; we know that a sparrow with a massive heart attack will die (I guess). When that sparrow has a heart attack while in the air, it falls; God worked no miracle, but the sparrow’s fall is according to God’s will. God worked through the nature that He created. (BTW, this is providence, NOT predestination; I find it Biblically questionable to claim that God predestined meticulously, although it’s philosophically possible, I suppose.)

      I think, for impersonal things like natural law, that you will find this unobjectionable, and I’d expect we’d disagree when it comes to personal agents. I’m mainly asking so I can know where you stand.

      As for compatibilism… I think the people declaring it dead tend to redefine it, as Inwagen did. By his definition I think Jonathan Edwards would be a hard determinist, which I find undescriptive. I don’t find Inwagen offensive; it seems most of the people he’s interacted with find his definitions useful.

      I don’t see how it’s possible to believe that what Inwagen calls “free will” (and most people would call “libertarian free will”) is compatible with determinism. I find it odd that Inwagen wouldn’t admit the existence of disagreement on the nature of the will (i.e. its role within a human).

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      2. Just to define terminology what do you mean when you say you deny the ability to transcend God?

      Your definition of free will requires transcendence. My only claim is that God’s control (sovereignty) is over free will. Therefore, if we disagree at all, we disagree because you believe that free will transcends God’s sovereignty.

      3. On the alledged incompatibility between contrary choice free will and divine omniscience please read here. Although I hadn’t recognized it as being a modal fallacy before Wade pointed it out I think this article makes the case. http://www.iep.utm.edu/foreknow/#SH6a

      Brilliant and clear. I’m spending a long time on this.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      if we disagree at all, we disagree because you believe that free will transcends God’s sovereignty.

      I don’t think we would disagree on that necessarily so much as we would disagree on the definition of God having sovereignty. CMP gave a good description of some of the options here.

      http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/02/what-do-you-mean-when-you-say-god-is-sovereign/

    • wm tanksley

      van Inwagen cites the following as a summary of the Consequence Argument in a current paper on his website:

      If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore, the consequences of those things (including our present acts) are not up to us.

      But he’s deeply wrong. An event is ‘up to us’ if it could have happened differently (or not at all) without our willing action. Whether willing is deterministic doesn’t and can’t matter to this definition; it applies fairly and across the board to all understandings of time, nature, and will. Our actions are up to us in the deepest possible sense, and the consequences of our actions are also up to us. Happily, this definition does not beg the question of whether we can be held morally accountable in a deterministic world; that’s left as a different but still important question.

      The Consequences argument therefore doesn’t reveal any truth; it merely restates the fact that a deterministic universe has only one future. And this we already knew, and it didn’t settle the argument.

      Another thing I realized from reading Inwagen … His discipline in disparaging the abstract noun ‘libertarian free will’ is admirable (again, see the “How to Think About Free Will” document on his website), but he needs to take that discipline to the next step. ‘Free will’ also shouldn’t be discussed as a noun. Instead, ‘will’ should be defined, and the property ‘free’ should be defined as it applies to ‘will’, and then we can discuss whether it legitimately applies.

      Oh, and I discovered the new term for my compatibilism: “semicompatibilism” or “narrow compatibilism”. We believe that whether the will is free or not, morality is…

    • wm tanksley

      … Ahem. Sorry.

      Oh, and I discovered the new term for my compatibilism: “semicompatibilism” or “narrow compatibilism”. We believe that whether the will is free or not, morality is compatible with determinism.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I don’t think we would disagree on that necessarily so much as we would disagree on the definition of God having sovereignty.

      I think that actually IS the deepest source of our disagreement, actually. You’ve made it very clear that you have profound philosophical reasons for believing that the human will must be transcendent, and that this need requires that it transcend all determination, including divine.

      At any rate, with respect to this specific discussion, our disagreement IS on the interrelationship between those two.

      CMP gave a good description of some of the options here.

      I respectfully disagree; I don’t think he kept his categories clear. He mixed up the concepts of God’s eternal decree (which he called a “plan”) and God’s providence and put the resulting mess onto what looked like a continuum (even though it’s not). His definitions were reasonably clear, and I do appreciate that.

      With that said, though, how does this rebut what I said? I concede that we may have different definitions of how God’s sovereignty works; that doesn’t eliminate the fact that we have different understandings about how sovereignty relates to human willing.

      To be clear on my definition: I believe that God exercises meticulous providence, in that nothing whatsoever happens without His willing it (down to the fall of a sparrow or the loss of a hair on your head), and that His will is directed towards making all things work together for good for His people.

      What do you believe on the topic, since you say it’s important?

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, back again for the last of your posts that I bookmarked for later reply (whew). I hope you can get around to my responses above. By the way, be careful: the “blockquote” which we both freely used before no longer works. It’s still visible in Google Reader, but not in the blog itself — I’m switching to using italics, but old blockquotes are now completely indistinguishable from the surrounding text. Ew.

      You said:
      In LFW […] the relative degree of certainty would appear, at least to me, to be higher since to the extant we ignore evidence, or adopt absurd rules of evidence which lead to errors in reasoning, we do so of our own free will.

      First, this is false on its face: even in the LFW situation some errors are involuntary, at least because we’re finite and don’t have time to check for all errors.

      Second, every belief system regarding the will except illusionism says this about man. The only difference is what they mean by it.

      Third, why should you believe that things reached by “our own free will” should be more reliable than things reached through other means? Certainly you’d have to admit that a decision reached through logic in which every possible branch taken was completely inevitably proven best would be an optimal decision; but in that case no “free will” ever comes into play.

      To wrap my objections together, I have to say that your premise seems to be, fundamentally, that the best possible grounds for certainty is man’s free will. But this isn’t the case; the grounds for the possibility of believing that we can reach certainty is singular, and it’s the fact that the creator of reality is also the creator of our senses through which we perceive reality and our minds by which we reason about reality. There can never be grounds for believing that we have already reached certainty, only for believing that truth is reachable; and we believe it not because of who we are, but because both we and reality are created…

    • wm tanksley

      (Oops, I see the new blog gives no warning when replies go too long. This is going to be difficult.)

      When I got myself cut off, I was saying:

      …and we believe it not because of who we are, but because both we and reality are created by the same loving God.

      Your earlier responses said that my beliefs were suicidal in the sense that once supposed, all beliefs become ungrounded. Let me remind you that this argument is no longer available to you, since you’ve admitted that believing in divine determinism is (according to you) not total abandonment of certainty, but rather a lesser certainty.

      -Wm

    • Michael

      WM,

      1. “But he’s deeply wrong. An event is ‘up to us’ if it could have happened differently (or not at all) without our willing action. Whether willing is deterministic doesn’t and can’t matter to this definition; it applies fairly and across the board to all understandings of time, nature, and will. ”

      Ahh but here you are deeply wrong (at least in my opinion). Our natures and wills are simply the product of past events which were not up to us. In his summary here Van Inwagen simply skipped the steps of saying that our actions are deterministically caused by our wills and our wills are deterministically caused by our natures and our natures are determistically caused by past events. Thus nothing is “up to us” and Inwagen’s objection holds. This is just another case of what I like to call “hide the determinism”. All you do is simply remove the determining entity a few steps from the action. Yet since all the actions between the ultimate cause and the effect in question are mechanistically determined your just trying to hide it.

      2. I’ll have to look into semi-compatibilism but I suspect that it is a position that most compatibilists hold anyhow. I would still like to know though how a robot I programmed can be morally calpable for it’s actions and I somehow escape culpability. It becomes even more absurd if I’m the one holding the robot morally culpable for the actions I programmed it to do.

      3. I, like most Arminians, take the providential oversight view of sovereignty. I do not believe God meticulously controls everything that happens.

      • wm tanksley

        Thanks for the reply, Michael… Always interesting to read.

        In his summary here Van Inwagen simply skipped the steps of saying that our actions are deterministically caused by our wills and our wills are deterministically caused by our natures and our natures are determistically caused by past events. Thus nothing is “up to us” and Inwagen’s objection holds.

        That’s the problem. Inwagen skipped the steps that actually matter. He skipped the only steps that actually matter: the steps that attach the event/action to the person doing and willing it.

        The critical point is his definition of “up to us”. The term originates in a Greek phrase that appears in Aristotle; Inwagen sees it such that an action is “up to us” if and only if its cause lies exclusively within us, uncaused and unaffected by prior historical events.

        A compatibilist definition of “up to us” is an event which is a result of an action I desired to perform, and actually did perform. That’s all. This can be proven in court.

        This is just another case of what I like to call “hide the determinism”. All you do is simply remove the determining entity a few steps from the action. Yet since all the actions between the ultimate cause and the effect in question are mechanistically determined your just trying to hide it.

        This is a false accusation. [Semi]compatibilists hide nothing in their model of moral behavior. Our theory of morality fits neatly into legal theory as well; we hold a personal culpable if they did it, and wanted to do it (mens rea et actus reus). We don’t look further to see if there was a reason they wanted to do it; the buck stops with the moral actor (although it’s possible to dodge the bullet by claiming to not be a moral actor, specifically by pleading insanity or incompetence).

        This is how our legal system works — in other words, when it comes down to actual crime and punishment in practice, the world is semicompatibilist.

        2. I’ll…

    • wm tanksley

      2. I’ll have to look into semi-compatibilism but I suspect that it is a position that most compatibilists hold anyhow.

      That was my point — this was the normal position called ‘compatiblism’ before Inwagen. But I need to not grumble, this is the direction modern philosophy has moved, and I should catch up with it. I’m glad you pointed this out to me. I actually like Inwagen.

      I would still like to know though how a robot I programmed can be morally calpable for it’s actions and I somehow escape culpability. It becomes even more absurd if I’m the one holding the robot morally culpable for the actions I programmed it to do.

      If your robot can reason morally and direct its own actions with enough freedom to perform data-gathering to support further moral reasoning, it’s culpable for its own actions. If you built the robot to perform actions regardless of its moral reasoning, that’s not the robot’s fault.

      There are two major ways in which your robot will fail to be a moral actor in the same way we are. First, it will not be as well designed as we are. Second, you are not a grounding cause of morality.

      The first problem is that you’re not going to be able to program your robot to reason morally (nobody’s managed it yet). Once that gets solved, the basic moral laws have to be correct, and we know we do poorly with THOSE. You’ve got to do this in a finite time, and build with materials that you understand only finitely well. There will be flaws, and the result will not be under full control.

      The second sort of flaw is that if you hold your robots responsible, you’re holding them responsible for God’s moral laws, not your own. I grant that they’re the same laws God wrote on our hearts, but we still don’t have the full authority that God has to enforce them. Our authority to hold humans responsible is either obvious and limited (training children) or is delegated from God (punishing crime).

      -Wm

    • Michael

      WM,

      1. Your definition of “up to us” is something that’s not up to us at all. I see no way that it was up to me to choose to sin when God deterministically caused my nature which deterministically controls my will which deterministically causes my actions. Nothing in this is “up to me”. I am no more ultimately responsible for my actions then the moon is ultimately responsible for revolving around the Earth. Whatever moral reasoning capacities I may possess are themselves determined and to the extant they are faulty they were determined to be faulty by God. In such a context one must wonder if our reasoning capacities and even our wills themselves are illusory, nothing more then deterministic chemical reactions in our brains. At the end of the day divine determinism really seems no different then the attempts of atheists to explain everything by reductionist mechanistic cause and effect (see the comedic video CMP posted today).

      2. “although it’s possible to dodge the bullet by claiming to not be a moral actor, specifically by pleading insanity or incompetence”

      And this little fact undermines your entire case. Where we feel that someones reasoning capacities are undermined we do not hold them responsible in many cases even though they met both the mens rea and actus reus requirements. Ultimately in your system of thought we are all controlled by uncontrollable compulsions to act the way we act just as an insane person is.

    • Michael

      3. On my robot example

      A. Ultimately what is moral reason??
      B. Let’s assume that God is programming the robot and He can program the robot to reason morally, but also programmed it so that once it came to a conclusion about the morality of an action it would always do the immoral action. Is it still morally culpable simply because it knows right from wrong?? Or must it legitmately be able to choose right from wrong? I think Justin Martyr addresses this
      http://thearminian.net/2010/10/16/saturday-devotion-justin-martyr-on-responsibility/. Secondly how would this excuse the culpability of the creator. Remember you not only have to get man on the hook, but you also have to get God off the hook.
      C. Real life is even worse then the example in B because not only is God ensuring that one will choose the evil He is placing the events in place to ensure the exact evil acts that will occur.

    • wm tanksley

      1. Your definition of “up to us” is something that’s not up to us at all.

      If I read you literally, I have to agree with your characterization of my definition. “Up to us” cannot be by definition up to us, because that would lead to a necessary infinite regress. The things we choose are up to us; the choosing itself cannot be. Otherwise, we would choose a thing by choosing the choice that chooses the thing by choosing the choice that chooses the choice that chooses the thing by… (ad infinitum).

      Nothing in this is “up to me”.

      But when I read the rest of your argument, I see only the fallacy of begging the question. You’re doing nothing more than telling me that my definition is invalid because it doesn’t match your definition. I’m sorry, I can’t let you do that. You have to argue against me using logic, not using bare assertion.

      Whatever moral reasoning capacities I may possess are themselves determined and to the extant they are faulty they were determined to be faulty by God.

      Our faculties are finite and not aligned with God. We both agree on both of these points. You also have to admit that we don’t choose our own capacities. At that point you either have to admit that God chooses our capacities, or nothing does (it’s just an accident). What’s your decision here? Who is in control, God; or nothing?

      And this little fact undermines your entire case. Where we feel that someones reasoning capacities are undermined we do not hold them responsible in many cases even though they met both the mens rea and actus reus requirements.

      Even if your characterization were exactly correct, it wouldn’t undermine my case in the slightest; you must concede that things are normally exactly as I’ve described them, and this situation only applies to abnormal humans.

      But your characterization is vastly oversimplified. This sort of inability is not merely the absence of desire or the presence of errors in moral reasoning;…

    • wm tanksley

      Sorry. I was saying:

      But your characterization is vastly oversimplified. This sort of inability is not merely the absence of desire or the presence of errors in moral reasoning; it’s an entire inability to reason morally. Even sociopaths don’t get excused (they merely are unable to feel shame).

      Ultimately in your system of thought we are all controlled by uncontrollable compulsions to act the way we act just as an insane person is.

      This is not anything proposed by my system of thought, nor is it anything you’ve shown as a consequence of my system of thought. You’ve got to do better than that.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Are you asking me what moral reasoning is? I suppose I’d say that it’s reasoning which incorporates ‘should’ to deduce ‘will’.

      B. Let’s assume that God is programming the robot and He can program the robot to reason morally, but also programmed it so that once it came to a conclusion about the morality of an action it would always do the immoral action. Is it still morally culpable simply because it knows right from wrong?? Or must it legitimately be able to choose right from wrong?

      This amounts to a compelled action AGAINST the alleged agent’s moral reasoning. Compatibilists reject compulsion.

      I think Justin Martyr addresses this
      http://thearminian.net/2010/10/16/saturday-devotion-justin-martyr-on-responsibility/.

      He’s arguing against fatalism, not Augustinianism. If you take this as an argument against Augustine, his conclusion is heretical: that our actions which deserve merit can save us. Salvation is not the result of merit, but of grace.

      C. Real life is even worse then the example in B because not only is God ensuring that one will choose the evil He is placing the events in place to ensure the exact evil acts that will occur.

      There are two crucial points here. First, God isn’t simply “placing events”. He’s creating moral agents. Second, God isn’t purposing evil; He’s purposing good by using the evil that the moral agents willingly commit.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      1. How is something which is a determined event “up to me”? I am not truly reasoning or truly making a choice, rather I am following a computer program which determines how I will reason and how I will choose. How could that ever be said to be truly reasoning? Furthermore, how can the agent determining the event not be morally culpable for the event occurring.

      2. “You also have to admit that we don’t choose our own capacities”

      I think I would disagree with this. We freely choose to ignore the evidence which would influences our moral reasoning and thus leads to the corruption of our moral reasoning. Now if you are simply saying that we didn’t choose whether or not we have the capacity for moral reasoning I would agree.

      3. States do of course have various tests for determining whether or not someone is not guilty by reason of insanity. However many states, and most legal scholars and psychologists hold that one is not guilty by reason of insanity when there actions are the result of a “irresistible impulse” (the test often used is whether or not the defendant would have still committed the crime if a police officer were standing right next to him). In your system our natures are determined by God, our natures control our will, and our will deterministically controls our actions. Thus all of our actions are ultimately an “irresistible impulse”. Person A given situation X at time Y will always commit action Z.

    • Michael T.

      Wm,

      4. “This amounts to a compelled action AGAINST the alleged agent’s moral reasoning. Compatibilists reject compulsion.”

      A. I disagree here. People choose to do things they know are wrong all the time myself included. According to compatibilism God has determined that they will do this. Thus he has determined that they go against their own moral reasoning

      B. Just as an exercise let me change the scenario just slightly. God creates the robot with defective moral reasoning such that it will inevitably reach the conclusion that killing Jews is not only a morally permissible action, by a moral obligation. The robot is further programmed to follow all actions it believes to be morally obligatory and thus tries to exterminate every Jew in the world.

      C.
      1. Is a defective moral agent still a moral agent?
      2. We will evil only to the extent that God determined that we will evil. It is just programming again. Furthermore if God is simply using evil for the greater good one must wonder if the actions are truly evil.

    • cherylu

      Would someone tell me how to get the rest of the comments besides the first 50 to come up if any one knows?

    • wm tanksley

      1. How is something which is a determined event “up to me”?

      As I’ve explained, [semi]compatibilists hold that the two are compatible. If you’re going to refute that, do so — or show that it’s incoherent, or something. You’re not going to accomplish that by denying it. I’ve showed that judicial work doesn’t deny it.

      Let me show you in the Bible. (A) God determined that Esau wouldn’t receive his birthright before he’d done anything good or bad (including selling it for pottage). (B) God told Moses that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen before he ever came before him. (C) God told all Israel that they’d disobey the Law and be scattered in Deut 30.

      All three of these are clear examples of divine predestination AND choice. There are many other examples where there’s divine predestination with ambiguous mention of choice, for example: “the king’s heart is in the Lord’s hand; He turns it wherever He wills.”

      I am not truly reasoning or truly making a choice, rather I am following a computer program which determines how I will reason and how I will choose.

      Many effective people do use a decisionmaking algorithm to help them make “better” choices. Would you say they’re not truly reasoning or making a choice? If you knew all the information they knew and the algorithm they deliberately followed, you could reproduce their decision.

      How could that ever be said to be truly reasoning?

      How could you claim it’s not? Keep in mind that people who want to improve their decisions try to develop more consistent algorithms!

      Furthermore, how can the agent determining the event not be morally culpable for the event occurring.

      They are — but they’re culpable for THEIR intent in the event, not for the intent of the actor.

      BTW, a capacity is something we don’t choose. I don’t choose my IQ or emotional strength, and have little control over my attention span.

      -Wm

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