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The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge$
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Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195107630

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195107630.001.0001

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Foreknowledge, Causal Relations, and Subjunctive Conditionals

Foreknowledge, Causal Relations, and Subjunctive Conditionals

(p.98) 4 Foreknowledge, Causal Relations, and Subjunctive Conditionals
The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge

Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski

Oxford University Press

It is often thought that physical laws just are generalized subjunctive conditionals expressing relations between physical events. Metaphysical laws, on the other hand, seem to be more than the subjunctive conditionals grounded in them. This makes it much more difficult to give a positive account of the causal relations between nomically equivalent events that are related by metaphysical laws. No positive solution to the divine foreknowledge dilemma can be given until a very comprehensive explanation of the relationship between God and contingent events has been given. John Pollock defines a strong subjunctive conditional in which transitivity and adjunctivity are built in, but even then he finds that the resulting conditional is not sufficient for defining the causal relation, and he has to add the provision that the antecedent expresses a condition prior in time to the consequent. Pollock concludes that since no counterfactual condition can distinguish between nomically equivalent states of affairs, no purely counterfactual analysis of causation can succeed.

Keywords:   God, physical events, metaphysical laws, subjunctive conditionals, causal relations, divine foreknowledge, dilemma, contingent events, John Pollock, causation

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