Philosophy 303

Dr. Sowaal

October 14, 2013

 Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Middle Knowledge

Natural knowledge is God’s knowledge which He knows about His own nature and being; since He is a necessary being, God knows all metaphysically necessary truths. Moreover, God’s natural knowledge is independent of His will, that is to say, God has no control over the truth of the propositions He knows by natural knowledge; 1+1=2, will always be true, regardless, of God’s will. Free knowledge is a section of God’s knowledge which God understands by His knowledge of His own will and including his desires and what He will actually do. The content of this type of knowledge is contingent, it only includes metaphysically contingent truths, which could have been prevented by God if He chose to created a different context, creature, or decided not create anything at all. Middle knowledge is the knowledge between the natural and free knowledge in God’s choice regarding his act of creation. Middle knowledge is like natural knowledge because it is independent of God’s will, but it is different from natural knowledge, in that, its content is contingent. Middle knowledge explains how God has knowledge of metaphysically necessary states of affairs, of what God wills, and of what free creatures would do if they were created.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Foreknowledge and Free Will

The Molinist solution to reconcile the problem of foreknowledge and free will is to present how God knows the contingent future while having divine providence. The objects of Middle Knowledge are called counterfactuals of freedom; there must be true counterfactuals of the form, if person S were in circumstances C, S would freely do X, (Zagzebski, 2004) in order that every free free creature can act freely in every possible circumstance. These propositions are supposed to be contingent, but they are before God’s creative will; God uses these propositions to decide what to create. Therefore, through God’s middle knowledge and His will, God understands the entirety of any possible outcomes made by free creatures in the world.

William Lane Craig: Middle Knowledge, Truth-Makers, and the “Grounding Objection”

Craig proposes that, “it is far from evident that counterfactuals of creaturely freedom must have truth-makers or, if they must, that appropriate candidates for their truth-makers are not available.” (Craig, 2001) He argues that a theory behind the grounding objection about the relationship between truth and reality needs to be articulated and defended before the argument has any weight or authority to shut down the doctrine of middle knowledge. The grounding objection claims that there are no true counterfactuals concerning what creatures would freely do in specific circumstances, furthermore, it pronounces that the propositions expressed by counterfactual sentences either have no truth value or is entirely false to begin with because there is no support to make these counterfactuals true. Truth-makers is defined as, that in virtue of which a sentence and/or a proposition is true. (Craig, 2001) In summary, the advocates of the grounding objection have yet to articulate the ontology of truth about the nature of truth-makers, which truth-bearers require truth-makers, and lastly, have they applied their theory to counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. He agrees with Plantinga that the theory that there are true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom is more probably to be true than of the theory which requires that counterfactuals requires truth-makers.

Thomas P. Flint: Providence

There are four types of providence: traditional providence, compatibilist traditionalism, libertarian traditionalism, and libertarian revisionism. Traditional providence implies the God of both biblical and non-biblical roots, a God who is omniscient and omnipotent. The problem with this type of providence is that divine providence implies divine foreknowledge which calls into question the freedom of creatures; in this view, human freedom is seen as an illusion due to God’s all-determining scope. Compatibilist traditionalism is the belief that God, as the first cause, is the ultimate causal determiner of all that takes place. Holders of this doctrine insist that God can determine free actions because no action can occur without God’s knowledge and allowance, therefore, agents are able to act freely, while God simultaneously determines its act, thus ensuring human freedom and divine control. Libertarian traditionalism states that God has middle knowledge, which is the common ground between God’s natural and free knowledge which allows agents to freely choose independently of God’s will, in this respect, God can tailor his actions according to the free creatures by placing them in situations where they would freely choose actions in accordance to God’s desired outcome. Libertarian revisionism states that the libertarian has no choice to abandon that tradition and attempt to construct a revised model of providence because without middle knowledge, God does not possess the type of knowledge and control affirmed by the tradition to create free beings in the libertarian sense.

Ontological Argument and Judgement Error

Descartes’ ontological argument states that existence is a perfection, God is a perfect being, therefore, God must exist. This argument starts from the nature or being of God and argues to the existence of God from God’s nature and being. Perfection is one of God’s quality, therefore, God also is omniscient because Descartes argues that it is a greater perfection to know than to doubt; perfection is one of God’s nature, which makes it so that God has perfect knowledge. Judgement and error, deals with the fact that human beings use their intellect and will poorly, thus, resulting in error, which is a form of imperfection. This theory provides explanatory power to why the epistemological and moral sense of evil exist in the world, which are due to human being who err and sin.

Middle Ground and the Ontological Argument and Judgement Error

These two concepts from class relates to the doctrine of middle ground because from the ontological argument, one derives the idea of a perfect God; judgement error reveals that there exist imperfect creatures, who misuse their intellect and will that was endowed by their creator, and thus, errors. The problem is how can a perfect being, namely God, create something imperfect. If God is perfection, whatever he does should also be perfect. This relates to middle ground because God is omniscient and omnipotent, but God’s omniscient is secondary to human freedom; God in effect, bases his foreknowledge after the fact that a decision has been made freely. Therefore, the middle ground argument does well in relieving the tension between human freedom and divine providence in the respect that it shows how God isn’t responsible for evil and how evil is the result of human choice.


Bibliography

  1. Craig, William Lane. 2001. “Middle Knowledge, Truth-Makers, and the Grounding Objection.” Faith and Philosophy. Accessed October 17, 2013. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/middle-knowledge-truth-makers-and-the-grounding-objection#ixzz2iVfk4FH0h.
  2. Flint , Thomas P. 2010. “Providence.” A Companion to Philosophy of Religion 2nd edition. Edited by Charles Taliaferro, Paul Draper, and Philip L. Quinn. United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ.
  3. Laing, John D. 2004. “Middle Knowledge.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed October 17, 2013. http://www.iep.utm.edu/middlekn/
  4. Molina, luis de. 1988. On Divine Foreknowledge: Part IV of the Concordia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  5. Zagzebski, Linda. 2004. “Foreknowledge and Free Will.” Stanford University. Stanford University. Accessed October17, 2013. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill-foreknowledge/
Skip to toolbar