The Thin Red Line, Molinism, and the Flow of Time

  • Ciro De Florio
  • Aldo FrigerioEmail author


In addressing the problem of the (in)compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom, philosophers of religion encounter problems regarding the metaphysics and structure of time. Some models of temporal logic developed for completely independent reasons have proved especially appropriate for representing the temporal structure of the world as Molinism conceives it. In particular, some models of the Thin Red Line (\(\mathsf {TRL}\)) seem to imply that conditionals of freedom are true or false, as Molinists maintain. Noting the resemblance between Molinism and \(\mathsf {TRL}\) models, Restall (Molinism and the thin red line. In: Perszyk K (ed) Molinism: the contemporary debate, pp 227–239, 2011) has advanced some criticisms of Molinism that have also been leveled against \(\mathsf {TRL}\) models. In particular, Restall believes that the implication \(p \rightarrow \mathbf {HF}p\) is not true in \(\mathsf {TRL}\) models. Because Molinists must also accept that this implication is not true, this is a problem for them. We will show that Restall’s criticism is wide of the mark. Firstly, it will be demonstrated that in many open future models (not just \(\mathsf {TRL}\)) the implication \(p \rightarrow \mathbf {HF}p\) is invalid. Secondly, while it is possible to account for this implication, some modifications are required in respect of the branching time semantics. In proposing one such modification, we show that this new semantics can be adopted by advocates of the \(\mathsf {TRL}\) and, as a consequence, by Molinists as well. We conclude that the principle stated by Restall is either a problem for many open future models (not just for Molinists) or can be accounted for by these models and so is not a problem for Molinists either.


Models of temporal logic Thin red line Molinism Flow of time 



Previous versions of this paper were presented and discussed at Prior’s Metaphysics of Time Conference held at the Aalborg University and at the International Workshop on Ockhamism held at L’Aquila University. We want to thank all the participants for comments, criticisms, and suggestions, in particular Patrick Blackburn, Per Hasle, Andrea Iacona, David Jakobsen, Peter Øhrstrøm, Sven Rosenkranz, Giuliano Torrengo. The authors gratefully thank an anonymous referee for constructive comments and recommendations, which definitely help to improve the quality of the paper. We are, of course, solely responsible for any errors.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCatholic University of MilanMilanItaly

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