Omnipotence and the ‘Delimiter of Possibilities’ View
May 20, 2013 — 21:54

Author: Kenny Pearce  Category: Uncategorized  Tags: , , , , ,   Comments: 24

Aquinas notes that some analyses of omnipotence have a serious problem: they reduce the apparently substantive claim “God is omnipotent” to the trivial claim that God “can do all that He is able to do.” Now, perhaps it is true that to be omnipotent is to be able to do everything God is able to do (or at least that omnipotence entails this), but this is hardly an illuminating analysis.
In several places in his Anselmian Explorations, Thomas Morris defends the view that the Anselmian God is the ‘delimiter of possibilities.’ This view has been endorsed by other Anselmians, and I am inclined to it myself. What Morris means by it is that many apparently conceivable worlds are in fact impossible precisely because it is impossible that God should permit them. God exists necessarily, and no world can be actual except by God’s permission. Hence if God’s character (or whatever) prevents him from permitting a state of affairs, then that state of affairs is not genuinely possible.
When this view is combined with a result theory of omnipotence, Aquinas’s worry recurs.