Metaphysical Nihilism and Cosmological Arguments: Some Tractarian Comments

European Journal of Philosophy 20 (2):223-242 (2012)
Abstract: This paper explores the relevance of themes from Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus to the ongoing discussion of metaphysical nihilism. I set out by showing how metaphysical nihilism is of paramount importance for cosmological arguments. Metaphysical nihilism is the position that there might have been nothing. Two conflicting intuitions emerge from a survey of discussions of metaphysical nihilism: Firstly, that metaphysical nihilism is true, and secondly, that formulations of the position are somehow unclear or nonsensical. By considering formalizations of philosophical language, the second intuition is sharpened, while the first intuition is given expression through the Tractarian distinction between what is said and what is shown by our symbolism. I conclude by exploring and rejecting objections to making metaphysical nihilism a scientific, rather than a philosophical question.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0378.2010.00409.x
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