dinsdag 27 november 2012

On Philipse's attempt to write off all deductive cosmological arguments (abstract)

A cosmological argument makes an inference from some broad empirical fact, such as that there are caused or contingent objects, or that there is something rather than nothing, to the existence of a First Cause or necessary being, which is God. We normally distinguish between deductive and inductive cosmological arguments. In a deductive cosmological argument the conclusion that God exists follows logically from premises, that is, if these premises are true then the proposition that God exists must also be true. In one kind of inductive cosmological arguments, namely arguments to the best explanation, it is argued that given the empirical fact in question the hypothesis that God exists is more likely true than any available alternative hypothesis. The development of deductive cosmological arguments has a long and rich history that goes back at least as far as Plato and continues from that time until today. Nevertheless, in his book God in the Age of Science? A Critique of Religious Reason Herman Philipse arrives in no more than four pages to the sweeping conclusion that all known deductive versions of the cosmological argument are unsound, deeply problematic and/or fail to establish that there is at most one First Cause or necessary being, so that proponents of the cosmological argument have no choice but to prefer inductive versions to deductive ones (p. 226). In this article I argue that Philipse’s attempt to write off all deductive cosmological arguments fails. His strategy is to propose just a few allegedly convincing objections to two classical deductive cosmological arguments: (i) the argument from the impossibility of there being contingent entities that are the sufficient cause for the existence of a contingent entity, and (ii) the argument from the impossibility of there being an infinite causal regress. To repudiate (i) Philipse reasons that causes cannot else but refer to contingent entities. I argue that this does in fact not follow from the basic meaning of “cause”. Moreover, I argue that, even if we accept his assertion, it does nothing to refute (i) since it can be shown that (i) nevertheless entails the existence of a necessary and free being that contingently causes the state of affairs of there being one or more contingent entities, which is surely sufficient for an adequate deductive cosmological argument. To repudiate (ii) Philipse considers William Lane Craig’s a priori argument for the impossibility of a past infinite causal chain of events, and argues that Craig’s defense of the argument’s premises does not hold. I do agree that Craig’s defense as presented by Philipse is not adequate. Yet, I show how this defense can quite easily be improved in order to obtain good reasons to accept Craig’s premises. For this I appeal amongst others to Jose Benardete’s 1964 “Grim Reaper paradox”. In the final part of my article I point out that, even if we would accept that (i) and (ii) are untenable, it does not follow that all deductive cosmological arguments fail, since Philipse does not consider any of the other classical versions of the deductive cosmological argument, nor any of the significantly improved contemporary versions. I conclude that his swift criticisms do not undermine at all the epistemic credibility of deductive versions of the cosmological argument. Philipse has offered no good reason to write them all off. (Paper currently under construction)

2 opmerkingen:

A. Atsou-Pier zei

Ik begreep de titel niet. Mag er een extra f in ?

Emanuel Rutten zei

Beste A. Atsou-Pier,

Zojuist even aangepast. Laat het me gerust weten als je nog meer spelfouten tegenkomt.