Jonathan Pearce made a comment in the discussion thread to “God or Godless and a Tippling Philosopher (Part 2)” which caught my attention. He said:
“if you ascribe to the Kalam cosmological argument AND believe in free will, one refutes the other, since free will implies ex nihilo creation (or a causal chain), so there CAN be ex nihilo creation straight away denying the premise 1 of the kca.”
I’ve heard many objections to the Kalam cosmological argument, but I can’t say I heard that one (perhaps I need to get out more). So I replied to Jonathan asking for clarification:
“I think you’re [sic] claim here could have been made more perspicuous. Here’s the premise:
“(1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
“So let’s say the cause of my choosing cherry pie is my intention to choose cherry pie. Are you thinking that this would commit the libertarian to thinking that the intention arises de novo without cause which would contradict (1)?”
So let’s try this out:
(1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
(2) My intention to choose cherry pie began to exist.
(3) Therefore, my intention to choose cherry pie had a cause.
No problem so far. But then we ask where does the intention come from? That seems straightforward: I like cherry pie. Thus the intention is causally explained by the fact that I have a taste for cherry pie.
To sum up:
I chose cherry pie because I intended to choose cherry pie.
I intended to choose cherry pie because I like cherry pie.
So I suppose Jonathan now wants to know why I like cherry pie. No doubt the answer is complex and includes facts of neurochemistry, personal history, and much in between. No violation of (1) so far.
Maybe Jonathan will say “Aha! But then you were determined to choose the cherry pie!”
But of course a libertarian who accepts a contra-causal account of free will won’t accept this. Instead, they’ll say that while I chose cherry pie I could have done otherwise. I was not determined to choose it.
Now Jonathan can certainly quibble with whether the action was free or not. He may insist that any explanatory cause (such as “I like cherry pie”) is thereby a determinative efficient cause. But I’m under no obligation to accept that claim. And indeed I don’t. So there is no incompatibility between accepting both (1) and libertarian freedom. A person may reject (1) or they may reject libertarian freedom. But they don’t have to reject (1) because they accept libertarian freedom, and they don’t have to reject libertarian freedom because they accept (1).