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The Cosmological Argument. The Causal Chain Take a simple fact of the world – your presence in this class room (by the way: do you know what facts are?).

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Presentation on theme: "The Cosmological Argument. The Causal Chain Take a simple fact of the world – your presence in this class room (by the way: do you know what facts are?)."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Cosmological Argument

2 The Causal Chain Take a simple fact of the world – your presence in this class room (by the way: do you know what facts are?). Write this fact down as the end point of a chain of causes (C n ). Now, note on the left hand side the direct cause of your being here (C n-1 ), then to the left the cause of that fact (C n-2 )and so on. Try to extend this chain in a way that you can find the ultimate cause (C 0 ) that caused your being in this class room. You have 10 minutes.

3 The Cosmological Argument Everything that exists seems to be caused by something. Therefore, a regress looms (one of the most unpleasant things in philosophical arguments). If you think that everything has to be caused by something and that something or something must have made a start with causing everything else, you already understand what lies behind CosmArg: God is the First Mover.

4 Burning questions? Before we start to have a closer look at CosmArg try to understand the motivation behind it. Think about and discuss if you find the following questions relevant. Or maybe you even have an answer? Why is there something rather than nothing? Why does the universe the form it does, and not some other form? How can the series of events that are the universe be explained?

5 Burning questions? Why should we not accept an infinite regress as explanation for the proceedings of the universe? What kind of cause or agency is necessary for the universe to come into being? Does this universe have special features (e.g. regularity, purpose, (can you find others?)? If so: How can they be explained? Hopefully, you will have found some of these questions worth answering. Otherwise, CosmArg will not appeal to you very much.

6 Formalities Now you should have a first vague impression what CosmArg is about. Remember: We want to demonstrate God‘s existence. With what you know about arguments: Write down an argument for GE using the cosmological background. Describe the formal structure of the argument: What type of argument does it have to be? What kind of reasoning lies behind?

7 Preliminaries I: Plato Plato introduced an important distinction between primary and secondary movers: Primary movers have the power to move themselves and others. Secondary movers can only move themselves or others once the have been moved. Find clear examples of Sm‘s! What about an ant? Find reasons to put describe as Sm! What then about human beings? What is the impact of all this for CosmArg?

8 Preliminaries II: Aristotle Aristotle believed that change in the universe presupposes a first unmoved mover. He argues for this in Metaphysics, Beta (Why is A‘s Metaphysics called Metaphysics?). Look at the argument on the following page and check if it sound and valid. Pay special attention to the form of the argument which is very common in philosophy. It derives its name from its form. Any suggestions?

9 Aristotle on the Unmoved Mover P 1 : Either the chain of causes and effects (cce) has a beginning (A) or it does not have a beginning (B). P 2 : If it does not have a beginning, there is no ultimate cause. P 3 : In that case, cce would be without cause (2). P 4 : If nothing caused cce, there would be no cce at all: Nothing can come from nothing. P 5 : There clearly is a cce. C: Therefore: (B) is false, cce has an ultimative cause (4, 5, 1).

10 Thomas Aquinas and the Five Ways St Thomas Aquinas was one of the most influential philosophers of the Christian middle age. He proposed Five Ways to prove the existence of God: The First Way – from motion (CosmArg I) The Second Way – from cause (CosmArg II) The Third Way – from necessity (CosmArg III) The Fourth Way – the Ontological Argument The Fifth Way – the Teleological (Design) Argument

11 Thomas Aquinas and the Five Ways After what we said so far you should be able to have a go at the first two versions of CosmArg yourself. Remember: The background of the argument was Aristotle‘s argument. With this in mind, try to prove God‘s existence (inductively) by referring the the fact that everything in the universe is moving (CosmArg I) and by referring to the fact that everything has a cause (CosmArg II).

12 Aquinas: The First Way Now, read through Aquinas‘ text. Identify the passage which contains the argument for the first way! Distil from this text the argument! What are the premises, what the conclusion? What form does the argument have? What does it remind you of? Compare it to your argument from motion! Which one do you think is better – or more conclusive?

13 Aquinas: The Argument from Motion P 1 : Some things are in motion (eg burning wood). P 2 : Either everything is a secondary mover (A) or there is (at least one) prime mover (B). P 3 : If (A) was true there would be an infinite regress of (secondary) movers without a primary mover. P 4 : Secondary movers require a primary mover. P 5 : (A) must be false (Redadabs from 3, 4). C: Therefore: There must be a prime mover which we call God (from 5, 2).

14 Reaction to the argument What is your first response to this argument? Is it sound? Is it valid? Are all premises necessary? May it be begging the question?

15 Aquinas: The Second Way Read again through Aquinas‘ text. Identify the passage which contains the argument for the second way! Distil from this text the argument! What are the premises, what the conclusion? What form does the argument have? What does it remind you of? Compare it to your argument from cause! Which one do you think is better – or more conclusive?

16 Aquinas: The Argument from Cause P 1 : Every event in the universe has a cause. P 2 : Nothing can be the cause of itself. P 3 : Either there is an infinite chain of causes (A) or the chain of causes was set off by a first cause (B). P 4 : Without a first cause there would be no subsequent effect at all. (1, 2) P 5 : (A) must be false (Redadabs from 3, 4). C: Therefore: The universe must have a first cause which we call God (from 5, 2).

17 Reaction to the argument What is your first response to this argument? Is it sound? Is it valid? Are all premises necessary? May it be begging the question?

18 Criticisms of CosmArg I and II Believers were not necessarily happy with the nature of the God that was proved (if successful) with CosmArg I and II. Can you think of a reason why? Looked at it a certain way God does not seem to have to bother with world once he set it off! Are there alternative interpretations? Or on the other hand: Would that be so bad after all?

19 Criticisms of CosmArg I and II Have you spotted a possible contradiction in CosmArg II? Have a closer look! (Nothing can cause itself)   (God is the first cause implying he caused himself) Or even worse: If there is a first cause – why should not the universe itself take this place (compare David Hume?) Is there a way to disarm these criticisms?

20 Criticisms of CosmArg I and II Compare premises 3 and 4 of CosmArg I and 2 and 4 of CosmArg II. Does Aquinas get the concept of „infinite“ right? Mackie: If something is infinite it does not have a first cause (as an infinite chain of hooks is attached nowhere) – compare  in Mathematics! How can a proper philosopher refute this criticism? The infinite regress fallacy is a very powerful tool in philosophy – for good reasons. Explain when and why!

21 Criticisms of CosmArg I and II What is cause? What is effect? Does Aquinas get it right? David Hume proposed a completely different account of accusation that brings down CosmArg! What do you think about it? E. Anscombe thought she could refute Hume by pointing out that we cannot imagine anything having no cause at all. What do you think about that? Valid against Hume?

22 Criticisms of CosmArg I and II Bertrand Russell with quantum physics: We know that on a quantum level there are occurences that lie outside the realm of cause and effect. Satisfactory against Aquinas?

23 Criticisms of CosmArg I and II David Hume accused CosmArg of the Fallacy of Composition: If in a group of items every item does have the same property it is unreasonable to conclude that the group as a whole has this property as well. Find examples! This is really funny! Explain how this is a strong argument against CosmArg I and II! Are you convinced?

24 Your go at the Third Way The Third Way exploits the fact that most of the things we know have a contingent existence. Do you understand what that means? Can you think of anything that is not contingent? What is something if it is not contingent? Aquinas wants to prove God by demonstrating that we must assume a necessary Being. How would that prove God? Have a go and try to think of an argument!

25 Aquinas: The Third Way Now, read through Aquinas‘ text. Identify the passage which contains the argument for the third way! Distil from this text the argument! What are the premises, what the conclusion? Be careful, the argument is rather complicated! What form does the argument have? Compare it to your argument from necessity! Which one do you think is better – or more conclusive?

26 The Argument from Necessity I P 1 : All Things in the world are contingent (in their existence). P 2 : If everything is contingent there must have been a time when the corruption of all things coincided and as a result there remained nothing. P 3 : If (3) was true there would be nothing now as nothing can come from nothing – but this is false. (Redadabs) C 1 : Therefore: Not everything can be contingent (in its existence), at least one thing must exist necessarily (1, 2, 3).

27 The Argument from Necessity II P 4 : Every necessary thing (everything that exists by necessity) has the cause of its necessity in itself (A) or outside itself (B). P 5 : If (B) was true there would be no ultimate cause of the necessity which is impossible (Abbreviated Redadabs from CosmArg II – spell it out yourself!) C 2 : Therefore: There must be a being that not only exists by necessity but that causes and sustains itself and all other necessary and contingent Beings – God.

28 Reaction to the argument What is your first response to this argument? Is it sound? Is it valid? Are all premises necessary? May it be begging the question?

29 Contingency – Necessity These are very important concepts. Make two lists in which you describe what both concepts imply! Contingency existence dependent on other things implemented corruption it might have been different Necessity existence indepen- dent on other things is eternal could not be different no matter whatever else is the case

30 Criticisms of CosmArg III Some criticisms of CosmArg II target CosmArg III as well. Which? Why? Mackie against the infinite regress because P 5 relies on CosmArg II. Another Fallacy in CosmArg III according to Mackie: „every thing at some does not exist“  „at some time everything does not exist“! Explain how this can be used as an argument against Aquinas!

31 Kant/Hume against CosmArg III CosmArg III relies on a certain interpretation of the concept of necessity, namely the possibility that things in the world can be necessary. This is hard: Try to find out what necessity is! Can you think of things that exist necessarily! What would that mean? In which other words could you describe that phenomenon? Or is it something else that can only be necessary – something that is not a thing? And what might that be?

32 Kant/Hume against CosmArg III Kant and Hume thought that only propositions (statements) can be necessary. They explained necessity as: A claim is necessary if its denial entails a contradiction. Find examples! If that was true all necessary statements would belong to a certain class of statement which we already know! Which? Does this explanation make sense? Can you see how it seriously damages CosmArg III?

33 General Considerations Even if we accept the three arguments as valid and sound – do they really prove the existence of God? What kind of God? Try to find out and to describe: What was Aquinas‘ aim with his proofs? Did he really want to prove God‘s existence? When explaining his aim rely on what Aquinas understood as via negativa!

34 Do we need an Explanation? Russell famously criticised CosmArg on a very basic level: He just denied that there is any need (or that any need must be felt) to look for an explanation of the universe. Describe what this position entails! How is it powerful against CosmArg? What then in the end should be said about the value of CosmArg? For whom do they certainly have a great value?


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