I intend to argue for the conclusion that the universe, be it infinitely old or finitely old, causes itself. One might object that no such argument could possibly succeed, because the claim that "the universe causes itself" is incoherent. I agree that this claim is incoherent if it is understood to mean that one individual, the universe, causes that same individual to come into existence. No individual can bring about its own existence, because no individual can bring about anything unless (...) it (already) exists. What I mean by "self caused" in this paper is that there is a certain type of whole of parts, namely, a temporal and causal sequence of different individuals, with each individual being caused by earlier individuals in the sequence. What I mean by "the universe is self caused" is that (a) the universe is a whole of parts, specifically, a sequence of states of the universe, with each part or state being an individual; (b) the existence of each part (state) of the universe is caused by earlier parts of the universe; and (c) the reason the universe as a whole exists is either because it is composed of or is identical with these successively caused parts. (shrink)
Tense, and Time , and William Lane Craig’s in The Tensed Theory of Time . Their ontologies differ greatly, however, and (before I discuss their particular ontologies) I shall concentrate at the outset on some general themes of presentism. You can search..
Philip Turetzky's book TIME presents an exceptionally comprehensive and reliable history of theories of time from the pre-Socratics up to 20th century existentialist thought, Bergsonian theories and even the debate among analytic philosophers about the A and B theories of time (Mellor, Oaklander, Le Poidevin, etc.). He takes the reader up to the You can search..
the rise of analytic philosophy early in the 20th century, specifically, with Russell's 1905 article "On Denoting", for in 1904 and earlier years he and G.E. Moore held a sort of Meinongian theory of degrees of existence (subsistence and existence are distinguished, with existence being a higher..
presentness is a relational property, then this theory is compatible with STR but inconsistent with the tensed theory of time (the theory of objective time flow). But if presentness is a monadic property, the..
Reichenbach, for example, believes that "1" has the same extensional meaning as "the person who utters this token", and Smart believes that "now" means the same as is simultaneous with this utterance” (where the italicization of the "is" indicates it is tenseless). But if a tokeri 1 of' 'I' , refers to itself, it has a different reference than a token..
Since the mid 1960s, scientifically informed theists have been ecstatic because of Big bang cosmology. Theists believe the best scientific evidence that God exists is the evidence that the universe began to exist in an explosion about fifteen billion years ago. It began in an explosion called the Big Bang. Theists think it obvious that the universe could not have begun to exist uncaused. They argue that the most reasonable hypothesis is that the cause of the universe is God. This (...) theory hinges on the assumption that it is obviously true that whatever begins to exist has a cause. The most recent statement of this theist theory is in William Lane Craig's 1994 book Reasonable Faith 1]. Now there is a very interesting quote from this book which I will read to you at length because, at the end of this quote, Craig mentions me as one of the perverse atheists who deny the obviousness of the theistic principle. So let me quote to you how Craig states his argument 2]: The argument may be formulated in three simple steps: 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. 2. The universe began to exist. 3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. (shrink)
Vallicella argued that Heidegger's idealism is incoherent but that absolute idealism is coherent. I argue the reverse. There is no contradiction in the supposition that Being is dependent upon Dasein, that entities are dependent upon Being, and therefore that all entities are dependent upon Dasein. This may be false, but it is consistent. The absolute idealism of Fichte and the like is incoherent, however, because it supposes that all human minds are but representations in the Absolute Mind, and it is (...) impossible for a mind to be nothing but a representation in another Mind. (shrink)
This volume puts together twelve new essays by scholars who have done groundbreaking work in epistemology over the past four decades. Unfortunately, the editor’s brief introduction offers only a sketchy presentation of the papers and their background. Given the variety and complexity of the issues tackled, one would have expected a more detailed account of the nature and developments of the epistemological theories and arguments put forward and discussed by the contributors. The absence of such an account is all the (...) more surprising considering that the editor does not himself contribute a paper to the volume. (shrink)
I will begin by conceding that some of Beer’s arguments are sound (mostly on pages before the last page), and observe that Beer’s theory that “now” ascribes an individual essence to a time on each occasion of its tokening is a novel theory that seems fruitful and is worthy of being pursued and of being developed to deal with the criticisms in the following points.
Consciousness is perhaps the most puzzling problem we humans face in trying to understand ourselves. Here, eighteen essays offer new angles on the subject. The contributors, who include many of the leading figures in philosophy of mind, discuss such central topics as intentionality, phenomenal content, and the relevance of quantum mechanics to the study of consciousness.
There are two familiar, contemporary responses to this question. The theist says that the question has an answer and that this answer is that God caused spacetime to begin to exist. The standard response of the atheist is to say that there is no answer to this question; spacetime’s beginning to exist is a brute fact or has no explanation. This standard atheist response seems to give theism a prima facie theoretical superiority to atheism; theists offer a detailed explanatory hypothesis (...) about why spacetime begins to exists, and standard atheists are content to leave spacetime’s beginning to exist unexplained. (shrink)
In George Nakhnikian’s interesting and stimulating paper, “Quantum Cosmology, Theistic Philosophical Cosmology, and the Existence Question” (present issue) he addresses the fundamental issue of whether it is metaphysically possible or justifiable to believe that our universe began to exist without a cause, divine or otherwise. His conclusion is negative, and he argues that, contrary to my views, quantum cosmology is consistent with theism. In this paper, I shall evaluate Nakhnikian’s arguments.
Discussions of the intersection of general relativity and thephilosophy of religion rarely take place on the technical levelthat involves the details of the mathematical physics of generalrelativity. John Earman's discussion of theism and generalrelativity in his recent book on spacetime singularities is anexception to this tendency. By virtue of his technical expertise,Earman is able to introduce novel arguments into the debatebetween theists and atheists. In this paper, I state and examineEarman's arguments that it is rationally acceptable to believethat theism and (...) general relativity form a mutually consistent oreven mutually supportive pair. I conclude that each of hisarguments is unsound. (shrink)
Swinburne's Is There A God? presents a brief, updated version of his book, The Existence of God, in which Swinburne argued that criteria used in scientific reasoning could be used to argue that God probably exists. This new book is designed for a wider audience than professional philosophers. Nonetheless, there is much that is new and of interest to philosophers in Is There a God? For example, there is a discussion of Stephen Hawking's cosmology, some new ideas in the philosophy (...) of mind, and a new way of formulating the argument that theism is a simpler explanation of the universe than is materialism. (shrink)
Atheists have tacitly conceded the field to theists in the area of philosophical cosmology, specifically, in the enterprise of explaining why the universe exists. The theistic hypothesis is that the reason the universe exists lies in God’s creative choice, but atheists have not proposed any reason why the universe exists. I argue that quantum cosmology proposes such an atheistic reason, namely, that the universe exists because it has an unconditional probability of existing based on a functional law of nature. This (...) law of nature (“the wave function of the universe”) is inconsistent with theism and implies that God does not exist. I criticize the claims of Alston, Craig, Deltete and Guy, Oppy and Plantinga that theism is consistent with quantum cosmology. (shrink)
conditions. A 3-space is 'the universe at one time', i.e., a three dimensional spacelike slice of a four dimensional spacetime. The universe's initial conditions are its physical boundary conditions, the curvature of spacetime and the amount and distribution of matter belonging to the..
'In principle, one can predict everything in the universe solely from physical laws. Thus, the long standing 'first cause' problem intrinsic in cosmology has finally been dispelled.' Fang and Wu, (1986):3).
If big bang cosmology is true, then the universe began to exist about 15 billion years ago with a 'big bang', an explosion of matter, energy and space from a singular point. This singularity is spatially and temporally pointlike; that is, it has zero spatial dimensions and exists for an instant (at t=0) before exploding with a 'big bang'. The big bang singularity is also lawless; Stephen Hawking writes: A singularity is a place where the classical concepts of space and (...) time break down as do all the known laws of physics because they are all formulated on a classical space time background. ... [T]his breakdown is not merely a result of our ignorance of the correct theory but represents a fundamental limitation to our ability to predict the future [of the singularity], a limitation that is analogous but additional to the limitation imposed by the normal quantum mechanical uncertainty principle.  The lawlessness of the singularity entails that it 'would thus emit all [possible] configurations of particles with equal probability' . Paul Davies describes this vividly: 'Anything can come out of a naked singularity -in the case of the big bang the universe came out.' . (shrink)
I think that virtually all contemporary theists, agnostics and atheists believe this is logically possible. Indeed, the main philosophical tradition from Plato to the present has assumed that the sentence, "God is the originating cause of the universe", does not express a logical contradiction, even though many philosophers have argued that this sentence either is synthetic and meaningless (e.g., the logical positivists) or states a synthetic and a priori falsehood (e.g., Kant and Moore), or states a synthetic and a posteriori (...) falsehood (e.g., contemporary defenders of the probabilistic argument from evil). (shrink)
I begin by defending condition (i) against five objections (section 2). Following this, I show that the theory that laws obtain contingently encounters three problems that are solved by the theory that laws are metaphysically necessary (section 3). In section 3, I criticize the regularity theory of natural laws and the universals theory of Armstrong, Dretske and Tooley, and also show how the metaphysical theory solves the “inference problem” that Van Fraassen (1989) posed for any theory of natural laws.
Time,. change. and. freedom. This is no ordinary introduction to metaphysics. Written for the most part in an engaging dialogue style, it covers metaphysical topics from a student's perspective and introduces key concepts through a process of ...
This paper extends the orthodox bounds of explanatory rationalism by showing there can be an explanation of why there are positive contingent truths. A positive contingent truth is a true proposition that entails that at least one contingent concrete object exists. It is widely thought that it is impossible to explain why there are positive contingent truths. For example, it is thought by Rowe that 'God created the universe' is a positive contingent truth and therefore cannot explain why there are (...) positive contingent truths. I show, however, that the reasoning behind this orthodox view is unsound and that it is possible to explain why there are positive contingent truths. (shrink)
By "an infinite series of contingent beings" is meant a beginningless succession of modally contingent beings, such that the succession of beings occupies an infinite number of equal-lengthened temporal intervals (e.g. an aleph-zero number of past years).
This paper is a reply to some of Scott Soames' comments on my colloquium paper Marcus, Kripke, and the Origin of the New Theory of Reference. Except for the indicated parts added in May, 1995, this paper was written on December 16th–25th, 1994 as my reply to Soames for the APA colloquium in Boston, December 28, 1994. In this paper, I argue that Soames' contention that Marcus is not one of the primary founders of contemporary nondescriptivist theories (...) of reference is false. Soames presents numerous arguments for his thesis that Marcus did not originate ideas later elaborated upon by Kripke, but his arguments are unsound; they are based in part on a misunderstanding of Marcus' theory and in part on an inadequate grasp of some of the key notions of the New Theory of Reference, such as the notion of a posteriori necessities and the notion of reference-fixing descriptions. (shrink)
In this paper, presented at an APA colloquium in Boston on December 28, 1994, it is argued that Ruth Barcan Marcus' 1961 article on Modalities and Intensional Languages originated many of the key ideas of the New Theory of Reference that have often been attributed to Saul Kripke and others. For example, Marcus argued that names are directly referential and are not equivalent to contingent descriptions, that names are rigid designators, and that identity sentences with co-referring names are necessary if (...) true. She also first presented the modal argument that names are directly referential, the epistemic argument that names are directly referential, and the argument that there area posteriori necessities. (shrink)
Time, Change and Freedom is the first introduction to metaphysics that uses the idea of time as a unifying principle. Time is used to relate the many issues involved in the complex study of metaphysics. Sections of the book are written in dialogue form which allows the reader to question the theories while they read and have those queries answered in the text. In addition, the authors provide glossaries of key terms as well as recommendations for further reading at the (...) conclusion of each chapter. Quentin Smith and L. Nathan Oaklander examine the tensions between determinism and freedom, temporality and historical change as well as an array of other issues fundamental to introductory metaphysics. (shrink)