I received the following query from a reader (hyperlinks added):
Hey there! So I’ve followed your Molinism posts, comments and interactions with JW Wartick on his site. I took your question and asked it to my Molinist friend and he gave me an answer that seems pretty straightforward. The conversation goes something like this:
I want to hear your thoughts as to why a Molinist could not simply respond to your question with the following:
Calvinist: Given that God has decreed that S will choose A in W1 is it possible for S not to choose A in W1?
Molinist: No, because then it would have been a different world. S cannot choose ~A In W1. Therefore God’s decree could not be wrong.
Calvinist: How does that not invalidate LFW?
Molinist: It does not invalidate libertarian free will because S chooses ~A in W2. The libertarian view of free will does not believe that you are free if you can choose A or ~A in the same world. Rather, we believe that it should be simply possible to choose A or ~A. But of course these will both be in two separate worlds.
Doesn’t LFW simply means it needs to be possible for the action to be different, but that possibility would generate a different world other than W1 right?
I think this response evidences a confusion about what libertarian free will (LFW) involves. LFW requires more than the mere possibility of (freely) choosing otherwise. If S freely chooses A in W1, it’s not sufficient for LFW that there be some other world W2 in which S freely chooses ~A. After all, a compatibilist can make exactly the same claim! I believe there are possible worlds in which I make free choices other than the ones I make in the actual world, but that doesn’t make me a libertarian about free will.
Rather, LFW involves the idea that it is possible for S to freely choose A or ~A in exactly the same circumstances. Or to put it more precisely: if S chooses A at time t in W1, then for S to have LFW in W1 there must be a possible world W2 in which S chooses ~A at t where the history of W2 at t is identical to the history of W1 at t. (For the sake of simplicity I’m leaving aside the distinction, made by some libertarians, between derivatively and non-derivatively free choices, since that distinction isn’t relevant to the point being made here.)
So the question I pose to the Molinist is just this: Should God’s decree be included in the history of W1?
If it should be included, then (assuming divine infallibility) there is no possible world W2 (with an identical history) in which S chooses ~A at t. But if it shouldn’t be included, I would like the Molinist to give a principled, non-question-begging reason why it shouldn’t be included. For it strikes me as special pleading to exclude, of all things, God’s eternal decree — which is an active divine foreordination, not a passive divine foreknowledge — from the history of the world prior to our free choices (or from the circumstances in which we make our free choices).
I realize there’s much more to be said on this issue. (There was some discussion of the issue in the comments on my original post.) But that’s my basic response to the Molinist quoted above. His reply doesn’t give an adequate answer because it doesn’t adequately grasp the problem in the first place.