Chapter

The Molinist Solution

Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski

in The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge

Published in print June 1996 | ISBN: 9780195107630
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199852956 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195107630.003.0005
The Molinist Solution

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Perhaps the most ingenious solution to the dilemma of divine foreknowledge and freedom was devised by the 16th-century Jesuit philosopher, Luis de Molina, in his theory of scientia media, or middle knowledge. Middle knowledge is said to be the knowledge of what any possible free creature would freely choose in any possible circumstance. Molina called it “middle” knowledge because it stands midway between God's natural knowledge, or his knowledge of what is necessary and possible, and God's free knowledge, or his knowledge of what is actual. Middle knowledge is like free knowledge and unlike natural knowledge in that its objects are metaphysically contingent propositions. All of God's natural knowledge, in contrast, is of metaphysically necessary propositions. The objects of middle knowledge are supposed to include propositions such as the following: “If Peter were asked if he knows Christ (at a certain place and time), he would (freely) deny it” and “If Elizabeth were offered a (certain) grant, she would (freely) accept it.” In modern parlance, conditionals such as these are called counterfactuals of freedom.

Keywords: Luis de Molina; God; divine foreknowledge; middle knowledge; freedom; natural knowledge; free knowledge; counterfactuals of freedom

Chapter.  12665 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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