Friday, July 08, 2016

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

A Reasonable Faith video. 


Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

OK CA is second favorite God argument,l What's my first? experience of course. AS CA goes like Leibniz
s better than Kalam, and Clarke better than Leibniz. I don't take seriously the atheist issue with the first line of Kalam (everything that begins to exist needs a cause) but as long sas they cant understand the qualification to contingent things then better avoid the issue,

Here;s my version please tell me if it is valid. I am serious.

1) All contingent things have causes
(2) All contingencies require necessities to ground them.
(3) All natural things are contingent
(4) the universe is natural, therefore, the universe is contingent
(5) the universe requires a necessity upon which its existence is grounded, Therefore, the origin of the universe must be necessary.
(6)Since the origin of the universe must be necessary (from 2,4 and 5) and not contingent the origin cannot have a cause.
(7)The origin of universe is necessary and must be eternal and first cause, since this is the definition of God (see Rational Warrant page) then the origin of the universe must be God.

Steve Lovell said...

I think there is some tidying required in your formulation of the CA Joe. But it can certainly be made into a valid argument.

At present you are conflating origins and grounds. The two are clearly connected, but for validity you need to pick one and stick with it or demonstrate the connection. Since this is an argument from contingency, I find "ground" more natural. It's not clear that premise 1 is doing any work. Can't you get rid of it? It's debateable whether "the universe" is a "thing" in the relevant sense, but that's an issue of soundness rather than validity. You've also not argued for necessary beings "cannot have a cause". Aquinas at least didn't think this was obvious. Something may be necessary but gain its necessity from something else. But not everything can.

Personally, I'd prefer "contingent things exist" to "the universe is ... contingent". You can then argue that the existene of all contingent beings is grounded in the neccessary existence of One who is appropriately called "God".

(1) Something exists
(2) Whatever exists exists either contingently or necessarily
(3) The existence of something which exists continengtly must ultimately be grounded in the existence of a something which exists necessarily
(4) ... derive the attributes of the necessary being here ...
(5) Such a being is appropriately called God.
(6) Therefore God exists.

The argument form is tight. Clearly (3) and (4) are where the heavy lifting is being done, or in your version (5), (6) and (7). I think the arguments are sound arguments. Convincing other people of that isn't easy, however!

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

ok thanks man I appreciate it

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...


This argument is made by Samuel Clarke (1675 - 1729) an Enblish Clergyman and Philosopher. He was the first to modernize the Cosmological argument, his version of it was defended by William Rowe. Rowe didn't agree that the argument proves its conclusion because the Principle of Sufficient Reason can't be proved. But, he also argued that it is a plausible principle. See a journal article in Journal of Philosophy of Religion by Clement Dore).

The page is put up by cengage learning Which produced reference material available to students.
Samuel Clarke
A Modern Formulation of the Cosmological Argument


(1) All beings are either dependent (that is take their cause form some higher thing upon which they depend) or otherwise they are independent.

(2) the chain of dependent being we know must either

(a) have been caused by some being whose existence does not result from some prior cause (i.e., an independent being) or

(b) be part of an infinite succession of dependent beings.
(3) The whole requires an explanation; the whole succession must be dependent upon an independent being or the explanation is just put off a step back but not answered.

Clarke takes a slightly different tack from Aquinas in his formulation of the Cosmological Argument. Like Aquinas, Clarke proffers the premise that the beings we encounter have causes. Unlike Aquinas, Clarke makes a distinction between dependent and independent (or necessary) beings. On this account, beings that owe their existence to some cause are dependent; otherwise they are independent. Clarke points out that the chain of dependent beings we know by experience must either (a) have been caused by some being whose existence does not result from some prior cause (i.e., an independent being) or (b) be part of an infinite succession of dependent beings. That is, on Clarke's account (a) beginning with an independent being and (b) being part of an infinite series exhaust the logically possible origins for any succession of beings.

Now, if all successions of dependent beings must either be infinite or begin with an independent being, Clarke might simply claim that there is no such thing as an infinite succession, thereby demonstrating the existence of an independent, necessary being. While he does call the notion of an infinite succession "absurd," he takes a subtler route arguing for an independent being. Clarke points out that the whole series of dependent beings requires an explanation. That is, since every part of the series is dependent, it appears that the whole series considered as a single entity is a dependent being. However, upon what is the series dependent? This criticism becomes clearer if one considers the entire set of dependent beings as part of one long succession, each being dependent on some prior being for its existence. The whole series appears itself to be a dependent being. However, if we have included all the dependent beings in the series, there is no dependent being to which we can attribute the series' existence. Thus, according to Clarke, there must exist a necessary being to account for the existence of the series itself.

My version:

(1) All contingent things have causes
(2) All contingencies require necessity to ground them.
(3) All natural things are contingent
(4) the universe is natural, therefore, the universe is contingent
(5) Therefore, the universe requires a necessity upon which its existence is grounded.

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Atno said...

Speaking for myself, leibnizian cosmological arguments constite the main reason for my belief in God.

I think it is useful to differentiate between different leibnizian arguments one may give.

Craig defends a version that, from my knowledge, was for ulated by Stephen T. Davis. That version is very simple, and basically states that, since the universe is contingent, there must be an explanation for its existence, and its explanation is a necessary being whom we may appropriately call God. It requires only a limited PSR that encompasses only beings or things, not facts. This limited PSR has the advantage of simply stopping any necessitarianist/pantheistic objection (see Van Inwagen's argument against the more general PSR), and still leads us to the existence of God. But you have to treat the universe as a sort of "thing". That, however, is not very controversial, and the argument is pretty good.

Clarke's version seems to assume a PSR that includes causal chains, or what Alexander Pruss would call "non-local causal principles". Reasons for holding non-local causal principles to be true seem to follow from the same, or similar, reasons for us holding simple causal principles to be true (as Pruss argues), so I do think Clarke's argument is very strong. It also seems immune to pantheism, pr the Van Inwagen objection. And it also doesn't require us to treat the universe as a "thing"; the mere existence of contingent beings is enough.

I don't think comparisons to Aquinas's Third Way are useful, though, since Aquinas used the terms "contingent" and "necessary" in a different way.

Anyway, I don't even think we need these limited PSRs and different versions. They're nice, but a standard leibnizian argument with a full-blown PSR that includes not only beings, but also facts, already does all the job and I don't think Van Inwagen's objection is good at all. It depends on the premise that causes (or the explanans) must necessitate or determine its effects (or explanandum), but not only is that dubious, but we should also reject it. G. E. M. Anscombe already made that case. Pruss did it, too. And Mumford and Anjun also did it in their work on causation.

(There are also other faulty premises in the necessitarianist objection. For one, I think Leibniz would reply that it's possible for things to be "possible in themselves"; Pruss also says that free actuons may be contingent and self-explained, which would also deal away with necessitarianism).

And for me, PSR *must* be accepted anyway, not just from common sense, experience and the possibility of even making serious science, but because denial of PSR is itself incoherentand crazy. It would undermine reason.

Just get PSR + BCCF (or the fact that there are contingent beings, whatever) and you end up with the God of classical theism.

Gyan said...

Joe Hinman,
In what sense of the word "natural" you are using in (3) and (4)?

I don't understand what is meant by
"the universe is natural".
The universe is natural, as opposed to what?

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

produced by nature without apparent miraculous aid. I'm just following the speech of most atheists I argue with

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Rochelle to atheists debate my God argument,