Today we discussed Freedom.
Anyone who wants to say that human beings are free has to answer the problems of determinism, or fatalism. Today, we saw three different answers to three different problems.
Problem 1: Do we have options when we act? First, we talked about the way that Augustine and Anselm view free will as will that is functioning correctly. It's a surprising view, because it means that freedom of the will does not require us to be able to do other than we did. Some people think that freedom requires 'alternative possibilities', i.e. if I freely did X, I could have done otherwise. This is called the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP). Augustine and Anselm deny PAP. They think you can be perfectly free, even if you couldn't do otherwise.
Problem 2: Does God's foreknowledge impede our freedom? You might think it does. Here's the argument: if it was true last week (say) that I would be typing these words now, then I had to be doing what I am doing right now. But God always knew that I would be typing these words now. Therefore, God knew last week that I would be typing these words now.
Now Boethius would not deny that God knows what I am doing at any moment of my life. His point is rather that God's knowledge, like His being, is timeless. So it's wrong to say that God knows anything last week, because God is not in last week. And since God's knowledge is outside of time, we avoid the problem of God knowing what I will do ahead of time.
Problem 3: Aren't we determined by the causal sequence of things in our minds? Finally, and very briefly, we had a look at a point that Henry of Ghent makes. Henry points out that when we say that we are determined, we mean that things happen to us, and then we react. But maybe persons aren't like other causes and effects. Maybe reasons or experiences influence persons, but don't determine them. Perhaps the agent can be a cause in a way that is different from most causes and effects. If so, maybe there is a reason to doubt that we are determined.