You’d think that Arminians could at least agree on the definition of “choice.” After all, that’s a central plank in their belief-system. More so considering the fact that Dan has put so much weight on the correct definition of “choice” (and “choosing”). Yet over at Dan’s blog, major disagreements have repeatedly broken out over this key concept. If Arminians can’t agree on the fundamentals of their system, including the definition of choice, then it’s hard to see how they’re in much position to attack the Reformed definition of choice. Let’s take a few examples:
I disagree strongly with your argument for being able to make a choice when not having a choice. If we do not have a choice, then we obviously cannot make a choice IMO. What one merely believes does not matter; reality is what matters.
Let's analyze your example:
"Say I am considering going to a movie: so when I get to a theatre and purchase my ticket, I believe that I could choose to go and see either Movie A or Movie B. I then make the choice of movie A, though unbeknownst to me, there is some sort of mechanical malfunction with the projector that was going to show Movie B, so seeing Movie B was not an available and actual alternative. Did I make a choice? Yes. Did I have a choice with respect to being able to see either of those two different movies in that context? No."
***One huge problem with your example is that it does not fit Calvinism's exhaustive determinism (ED). You would have to adjust the example significantly, something like this: Add that every decision you make in the example is caused by someone who has given you a drug that renders you only willing to do whatever he tells you; call this person the controller. But you don't know it. The drug blinds you to his presence and makes you think the things you think are your own thoughts. So you go the theatre and buy your ticket. You believe that you could choose to go and see either Movie A or Movie B, because the controller has made you believe this. Then you decide to see movie A because the controller makes you decide on A, though unbeknownst to you, there is some sort of mechanical malfunction with the projector that was going to show Movie B, a malfunction also caused by the controller. So seeing Movie B was not an available and actual alternative. But neither was anything that you did. There was no alternative at all in anything, for someone else made every decision and caused you to do it. Did you make a choice? No; a choice is selecting from available alternatives. The Controller made all choices and caused you to carry out his choices. So you neither had a choice nor made a choice.
It is not necessary to take this further because the issue is whether the concept of choosing is compatible with ED, but I think your example fails even apart from considerations of ED, i.e., even if LFW be allowed to operate in the example. I believe you are being too vague with what choice one has and makes. In your example, you actually had a choice of A or B. You could have chosen B, but then you would have found out that you could not actually see the movie. But you still had a choice of selecting A or B. What you need to make your point is an example in which someone does not have a choice, but makes a choice. Perhaps the simplest way of naming your problem here is that you seem to be conflating making a choice and carrying out the intended outcome of the choice made (e.g., there is a difference between choosing to watch the movie and actually watching it, but you seem to be conflating these at times; when LFW is allowed, if one think he has a choice about watching a movie that he can't actually watch, he does indeed have a choice about the movie and can make a choice in favor of the movie, only then to find out that he can't carry out the itneded outcome of the choice).
Determinists can say they "make a choice", only by using speciallized definitions and avoiding common sense ones. If choices involves possible alternatives, then they neither have or make them, since determinism rules out possible alternatives.
Does your understanding of "make a choice" include possible alternatives?
God be with you,
I left a long, almost point by point response to you and was posting it when you posted your response to Dan. Now I believe Dan skewered your whole argument with one simple, straightforward question, which makes a point I made a number of times in my repsonse, that in an ED world there are no alternative possibilities, and choosing means selcting between alternative possibilities. Therefore, ED is incompatible with choosing (we already all agree that ED os incompatible with having choices).
Now, you seem to try to explain how we can have access to alternative possibilities in an ED world. But you seem to take refuge in the vagueness of the language Dan used (choices involving alternative possibilities). But the issue is that in ED, there is never such a thing as an alternative possibility for human beings. We never have a choice about anything. And what we do has been irresistibly predetermined so that there is ever only one course of action that we can enact.
Here is a critical point in which you define "alternative possibilities" invalidly, and in such a way as to make your view correct by definition. But again, the problem is that your definition is invalid. You define alternative possibilities like this: "Alternative possibilities are the different options the different possibilities *that we believe that we could choose* when we make our choice" (emphasis mine). But an alternative possibility is not defined by whether we believe it is possibile, but whether it is possible. Something can be described as possible if it is possible--a self evident truth. But it cannot rightly be described as possible if it is impossible. One's belief about whether it is possible or not neither makes it possible or impossible. Your use of this definition confirms some of my critique of your position: in an ED world, people might believe they make choices, but they never really do. Just like they only think they have choices, but it is an illusion, as you readily admit, so they think they make choices, but it is only an illusion. For they never actually select from possible alternatives, but only act as they have irresistibly been made to act.
Your message to Dan also continues another problem that I identified in my last post: you must assume LFW in order to ry and make your point. But the isue is whether the concept of choosing is compatible with ED. It is not, as your reliance on LFW to try and make youre point at times shows. In fact, I think my last post addressed most if not all that you say to Dan. So I'll just leave it there.
I must admit that it seems like you are playing semantic games here (though you probably do not intend to).
Here is how I see it:
Alternative possibilities = alternatives that are possible = possible alternatives. It is exactly the same thing. It is like saying that, "You are talking about brown dogs, but I am talking about dogs that are brown. Everything you say is true of brown dogs, but I am not talking about brown dogs, I am talking about dogs that are brown, so what you say about brown dogs does not apply to what I am saying."
There really is no difference between AP's and PA's anymore than there is a difference between brown dogs and dogs that are brown.
Perhaps you should drop AP's and go with PAP's (perceived alternative possibilities). That might make some sense. Maybe it would even be better to just speak of perceived alternatives since they are not really possible (though alternative implies possibility, so that might not really help). But trying to cling to AP's or trying to say that AP's and PA's are very different seems like semantic games (though I assume you are just trying to be clear, but IMO you are just adding to confusion by clinging to terms that do not seem to apply and drawing what appears to be invalid distinctions).
So from where I am sitting you hold to perceived possibilities and perceived choices. But neither the possibility nor the choice is real (i.e. grounded in reality).
But still, there is an undeniable connection between having and making choices. Even if we imagine that we "make" a choice in our minds we must first imagine that we "have" a choice to make. So if you own "making" choices in regards to perception only, then you must own "having" choices with regards to that same perception. If you deny one, then you deny it on the grounds of it's connection with reality, and in doing so the other follows. They must stand or fall together.
If you do not really have a choice than you cannot really make a choice and if you only believe you make choices, then you must also believe you have choices to make. So we cannot make a real choice unless we have a real choice. If we do not have a real choice then it is nonsense to say we make a real choice, and irrelevant to say we make an unreal (or illusionary) choice (which is really no different than not making a choice at all since the choice isn't real but illusionary- an unreal choice is not a choice).
But as has been demonstrated, even your imagination is predetermined and necessitated in an ED world, so even your "perceived" choice is not a choice, because you can only imagine one way, the predetermined and necessitated way.
And that's just a sample of the entire exchange. And here's another thread in which they go round and round on the true meaning of choice: