Presentation on theme: "Argument from contingency Part 2. Recap Necessary beings: exist as a necessity of their own nature. (Potential examples: numbers, God.) Contingent."— Presentation transcript:
Argument from contingency Part 2
Recap Necessary beings: exist as a necessity of their own nature. (Potential examples: numbers, God.) Contingent beings: non-necessary beings. Might have failed to exist, even if they have existed forever Since contingent beings cannot account for their own existence, their existence can only be explained by other beings Only necessary beings can adequately explain the existence of contingent beings
Recap continued Fallacy of composition? Brick wall analogy: If every brick in the wall is contingent (e.g. is made by a brick making machine), then it seems valid to infer that the brick wall too is contingent. Importantly, the brick wall seems contingent for the very reason that the bricks are contingent. Had those bricks not been made, then that particular brick wall would not have existed. In any case, no need to ask whether ‘the universe’ is contingent to establish that some ‘necessary being’ is required
Recap continued Counter argument: Argument doesn’t show that only one necessary being is required But arguments aren’t propounded in a vacuum. A given argument needn’t do all the work we need it to do, all by itself. We build a cumulative case
Counter argument 1 Humean response: The contingency argument seems to say that God is logically necessary. But where’s the contradiction in the statement, “God does not exist”? (Compare to something like, “John is a married, unmarried man”.) No longer considered to be a good response. There are different kinds of necessity and impossibility. The argument establishes the need for at least one ‘metaphysically’ necessary being (Sometimes the terms ‘factually’ or ‘ontologically’ are used instead)
Metaphysical/Factual Necessity Much stronger than mere physical necessity, but not quite as strong as strict logical necessity If given certain facts, beyond mere physical law, the non-existence of X is impossible, we may say X’s non-existence is ‘factually impossible’
Metaphysical/Factual Necessity This is so, notwithstanding that we might utter the sentence, “X does not exist”, without contradiction However, we can perhaps draw out a formal fallacy. Consider the following set of statements: 1. Given certain facts (f), the non-existence of X is metaphysically impossible. 2. Those facts (f) do obtain. 3. X does not exist. We can see that 3 contradicts 1 and 2, so if 1 and 2 are true, 3 cannot be true
Counter arguments Rundle: It’s not necessary that any particula r material universe exist, but it is necessary that some material universe or other exist Brick wall analogy: Although no particular collection of bricks has to exist, it is nonetheless necessary that some collection of bricks exist
Counter argument 2 Widely regarded as implausible on two grounds: 1. Why think that some universe or other has to exist? It seems like an arbitrary claim 2. The argument has a very implausible implication: If we posit the non-existence of every contingent thing except for, say, a flying spaghetti monster, then it becomes necessary that the flying spaghetti monster exist!
Next session Kalam argument: Ties in with the contingency argument Why does the cause of the universe have to be a living and immaterial being?