The discussion on my last post veered into a highly technical philosophy of mind debate so I wanted to pick up the core issue again here.
My take on the debate so far is that the Mormon compatibilists were left in an extremely tough spot. One of their main arguments was that we don’t understand how libertarian free will works so it must not exist. But Blake proposed a emergentist theory of how it might work and none of the compatibilists had any ammo to shoot that theory down. (And even if Blake’s theory does not prove to be the final reality behind LFW, not knowing how something works is hardly a powerful argument that it must not exist.)
But the Mormon compatibilists were left with a much bigger problem on their hands. They have not been able to show how anyone could be held morally responsible for any thoughts, words, or deeds in the fully deterministic universe they propose. Adam and JNS had proposed a universe where our spirits, complete with a “nub of character”, are beginningless. Now beginningless spirits are easy to defend in Mormonism but this idea of a beginningless “nub of character” is what causes their theory to crash. The problem is that they hold that this nub of character is “who we are” and we can never change it — not through the atonement or through repentance or anything. So while that might explain exhaustive foreknowledge via the fixed future it creates, it also make the ultimate fate of every human being pre-determined and predestined (in the broad sense of the term). Most importantly, it obliterates the common notions of repentance in Mormonism.
Mark D. also pointed out that in some ways this Mormon determinism is worse than creedal Christian variations of predestination. In Calvinistic versions of predestination at least there is some divine reasoning behind some people being predestined for hell and other predestined for heaven (as hideous as that notion is to me). In the Mormon determinist version the unchangeable and predetermined fate of each person seems to be left entire to chance. Yuck.
Anyway, here is the chance for Adam, JNS, Clark, Stapley, or any other opponents of libertarianism to show us Mormon libertarians the error of our ways and how there possibly could be such a thing as moral responsibility if LFW is not real. (In fact I’ll let you decide if you want to be the Jets or the Sharks.) Let’s… get ready to rummmble!