Infinite Causal Chains and Explanation

Abstract
Many cosmological arguments for the existence of a first cause or a necessary being rely on a premise which denies the possibility of an infinite regress ofsome particular sort. Adequate and satisfying support for this premise, however, is not always provided. In this paper I attempt to address this gap in the literature. After discussing the notion of a causal explanation (section I), I formulate three principles which govern any successful causal explanation (section II). I then introduce the notions of a caused being, a causal network, and a causal chain, and argue that (roughly) an infinite causal chain cannot be explained merely by reference to the causal activities of the members of that chain (section III). In a sequel to the present paper, I employ this result to construct two closely related arguments for the existence of a necessary being
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Conference Proceedings  History of Philosophy  Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 0065-7638
DOI 10.5840/acpaproc2007818
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