Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The libertarian lottery

Arminians are fond of alleging that unconditional election is like a lottery. The elect got lucky, while the reprobate were unlucky. I've already commented on the deficiencies of that comparison, but I'd also note that libertarianism has its own version of the cosmic lottery:


No best world : creaturely freedom
Religious Studies 41, 269–285 f 2005 Cambridge University Press
doi:10.1017/S0034412505007778 Printed in the United Kingdom

"God has no control over what CFs there are. He must just accept them. They aid, impede or perhaps even block His projects altogether. And they could easily have been far worse for Him, or far better. All of this seems to make it perfectly sensible to say that He has been lucky or unlucky in them, depending ; on Molinism, God suffers circumstantial moral luck. If Molinism is true, God’s record of benevolence might well vary from world to world independent of His degree of that virtue."

"Daniel and Frances Howard-Snyder suggest another divine moral-luck scenario. They suggest that a deity, Jove, might pick among good creatable worlds by creating a randomizing device and creating the world it picks.23 On their story, Jove determines a range of acceptable worlds, then lets the indeterministic machine pick, and creates the world picked. Jove places the pick of a world to create in something he can overrule – he might after all refuse to create the world the randomizing machine selects, or decide to control it after all – then does not overrule it. That it is in Jove’s control whether he is in control of what world he makes doesn’t alter the fact that he is not in complete control of what world he makes if he does not overrule the machine. That is, that he is in control of whether he is subject to moral luck in creating does not change the fact that if he does not overrule the machine, he is subject to moral luck ; as the fact that drunken drivers control whether they drink and drive on any given night does not change the fact that if they drink and drive, they incur either the bad moral luck of causing an accident or the good moral luck of avoiding this bad luck. I submit that if Molinism is false, then if God creates free agents, the world eventually made actual is selected by something like the Howard-Snyder procedure, and God is as a result subject to consequential moral luck. If Molinism is false, God does not, in deciding what to create, know what free agents would do in various possible circumstances."

"If God creates free agents, it is up to them how well they co-operate with His plans. He may be lucky or unlucky in how His creatures choose to act, even if He has great control over their initial endowments, natural tendencies etc., and constantly tries to influence events in His direction.2 8 For He could fully control their actions only by abrogating their freedom. Again, how creatures act will affect what gifts God is able to give them, if e.g. He has overriding reason to give certain sorts of gift only if creatures act in certain ways. So if there are worlds in which God creates free agents, God’s record of benevolence might vary from world to world due entirely to factors over which He (voluntarily) has no control. Some might suggest that permitting freedom does not subject Him to luck, strictly so-called. Perhaps God wasn’t lucky the Virgin Mary said ‘ Yes ’. He was able to stack the odds in His favour, and likely did so. Still, He did not control this, it could have gone the other way, and what He could do depended on what she said. And any case in which factors outside one’s control help determine one’s moral record is one of moral luck."


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