Luke and Philosophy

I am currently reading through Luke, and found these verses to be of interest to several philosophical issues I am interested in.

v. 13, 14: "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and aches. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you."

A couple of things this passage seems to be evidence for:

1. God has middle knowledge. It seems that God has knowledge of what human beings would have freely done in counterfactual circumstances (in situations other than the actual situation). Jesus claims to know what those in Tyre and Sidon would have done were they to witness the miracles performed in Bethsaida.

2. We are responsible for actions that we do not actually perform if we would have performed them in different circumstances. Jesus says that it will be much more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at judgment in virtue of the relevant counterfactual (had they seen they would have repented). This repentence is not something that those in Tyre and Sidon had actually done, yet they are being judged accordingly. Thus, it seems that we are held responsible for what we would have done in other circumstances. This can be understood as simply saying that we are responsible for our character, and our character is comprised of what we would do in certain circumstances (you are honest, if you would tell the truth in circumstances . . . ).

This is something that I had claimed a few years ago as a response to the problem of moral luck. These thoughts apply particularly to circumstantial luck. The problem here is that it seems a little weird that if you would have done everything that a Nazi sympathizer did if you lived during that era in Germany that you are not culpable whereas the sympathizer is simply due to having the bad luck of living then and there. My idea was that we actually are responsible for what we would have done if we lived back then and there -- this is a way of neutralizing the effect of luck on our moral appraisals. This passage makes me feel that my view is not so crazy.

No comments: