Here is an argument against Molinism, which while valid, is fallacious in an interesting way. This argument is an improved version of one that I have earlier defended.
- God brings it about that x is in circumstances C because of God’s belief that x would freely do A in C. (Hypothesis for reductio)
- If y brings it about that p because of y’s belief that q, then y’s bringing it about that p because of y’s belief that q is causally prior to p’s holding. (Premise)
- If x freely does A in C, then x’s being in C is causally prior to x’s freely doing A. (Premise)
- If E is causally prior to F, and the occurrence of E entails the occurrence of F, then E deterministically causes F. (Premise)
- That x freely does A is not deterministically caused by anything. (Premise)
- p is entailed by its being the case that God does B because of God’s belief that p. (Premise)
- Causal priority is transitive. (Premise)
- God’s bringing it about that x is in circumstances C because of God’s belief that x would freely do A in C is causally prior to x’s freely doing A in C. (By 1, 2, 3 and 7)
- That God brings it about that x is in circumstances C because of God’s belief that x would freely do A in C entails that x freely does A in C. (By 6)
- God’s bringing it about that x is in circumstances C because of God’s belief that x would freely do A in C deterministically causes x’s freely doing A in C. (By 4, 8 and 9)
- 10 contradicts 5.
What is wrong with the argument, I think, is the seemingly innocent (4). Claim (4) commits a mistake that I have identified elsewhere, the mistake of thinking that one can define concepts conjunctively. Deterministically causing is not just a conjunction of causing and logically determining (i.e., entailing), just as causing intentionally is not just a conjunction of causing and intending. The standard example for the latter is something like: George is pointing a gun at Bob and intends to kill Bob, and George’s intention to kill Bob causes his hands to shake and accidentally squeeze the trigger. Then George intended and caused Bob’s death but did not intentionally cause Bob’s death. For x to intentionally cause B, it has to be the case that x intends B and x causes B, but these two facts also have to be related in the right way. Likewise, for A to deterministically cause B, it has to be the case that A causes B and that the occurrence of A entails the occurrence of B, but these two facts also have to be related in the right way.
I don’t have a counterexample to (4). It could even be that (4) is true for some deeper reason. But as it stands, with (4) being presented simply because of its intuitive plausibility, the argument is fallacious in the following sense: Its plausibility rests in part on a cognitive fault of the interlocutor. The cognitive fault is that we have a tendency to accept conjunctive characterizations like (4) when we should always be suspicious of conjunctive characterizations, because just about always one needs the conjuncts to be satisfied in an appropriately related way. I think this may be because our minds automatically assume an appropriate connection between conjuncts, even if a statement does not give one. Consider “He pressed the trigger and the gun went off.” We automatically assume that the speaker is telling us that the gun went off because of the pressing of the trigger. But no such claim is made.
Suppose we fix up (4) by adding that the entailment must be appropriately related to the causal claim. But now (10) cannot be derived, because we don’t have an argument that in that case the appropriate relation holds.