No (New) Troubles with Ockhamism

Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 5:185-208 (2014)
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The Ockhamist claims that our ability to do otherwise is not endangered by God’s foreknowledge because facts about God’s past beliefs regarding future contingents are soft facts about the past—i.e., temporally relational facts that depend in some sense on what happens in the future. But if our freedom, given God’s foreknowledge, requires altering some fact about the past that is clearly a hard fact, then Ockhamism fails even if facts about God’s past beliefs are soft. Recent opponents of Ockhamism, including David Widerker and Peter van Inwagen, have argued along precisely these lines. Their arguments, if successful, would undermine Ockhamism while avoiding the controversy over the alleged softness of facts about God’s past beliefs. But these arguments do not succeed. The past facts they rely on must be clear and uncontroversial examples of hard facts about the past, and these facts must be such that an ability to refrain from the relevant future action implies an ability to alter the relevant hard fact. We demonstrate the flaw in these arguments by showing how they rely on past facts that do not satisfy these criteria. The Ockhamist may have troubles, but this type of argument is not one of them.

Author Profiles

D. Justin Coates
University of Houston
Garrett Pendergraft
Pepperdine University


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