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Faith and Philosophy

Volume 3, Issue 3, July 1986

Alvin Plantinga
Pages 235-269

On Ockham’s Way Out

In Part I, I present two traditional arguments for the incompatibility of divine foreknowledge with human freedom; the first of these is clearly fallacious; but the second, the argument from the necessity of the past, is much stronger. In the second section I explain and partly endorse Ockham’s response to the second argument: that only propositions strictly about the past are accidentally necessary, and past propositions about God’s knowledge of the future are not strictly about the past. In the third part I point out some startling implications of Ockham’s way out; and finally in part IV I offer an account of accidental necessity according to which propositions about the past are accidentally necessary if and only if they are strictly about the past.