Nozick on Explaining Nothing

Philosophy Research Archives 10:337-346 (1984)
Abstract
This paper raises some difficulties with the strategy suggested in Robert Nozick’s Philosophical Explanations for explaining why there is something rather than nothing. I am concerned less with his adoption of an egalitarian, as opposed to inegalitarian, explanatory stance (the net effect of which is to detach for independent consideration the question, “Why is there something?”) than with his use of a crucial assumption in reasoning from the egalitarian point of view. I argue that this assumption, that all possibilities exist, is fatally ambiguous, that the persuasiveness of Nozick’s reasoning depends on at once assuming and blurring the difference between the predicates “does not exist” and “nonexists” and that the attempt to wed a priori reasoning and a posteriori (mystical) practice fails
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