Necessary Existence breaks ground on one of the deepest questions anyone ever asks: why is there anything? Pruss and Rasmussen present an original defence of the hypothesis that there is a necessarily existing being capable of providing an ultimate foundation for the existence of all things.
Many have thought that there is a problem with causal commerce between immaterial souls and material bodies. In Physicalism or Something Near Enough, Jaegwon Kim attempts to spell out that problem. Rather than merely posing a question or raising a mystery for defenders of substance dualism to answer or address, he offers a compelling argument for the conclusion that immaterial souls cannot causally interact with material bodies. We offer a reconstruction of that argument that hinges on two premises: Kim’s Dictum (...) and the Nowhere Man principle. Kim’s Dictum says that causation requires a spatial relation. Nowhere Man says that souls can’t be in space. By our lights, both premises can be called into question. We’ll begin our evaluation of the argument by pointing out some consequences of Kim’s Dictum. For some, these will be costs. We will then present two defeaters for Kim’s Dictum and a critical analysis of Kim’s case for Nowhere Man. The upshot is that Kim’s argument against substance dualism fails. (shrink)
This book provides an up to date, high-level exchange on God in a uniquely productive style. Readers witness a contemporary version of a classic debate, as two professional philosophers seek to learn from each other while making their cases for their distinct positions. In their dialogue, Joshua Rasmussen and Felipe Leon examine classical and cutting-edge arguments for and against a theistic explanation of general features of reality. The book also provides original lines of thought based on the authors’ own contributions (...) to the field, and offers a productive and innovative inquiry into on one of the biggest questions people ask: what is the ultimate explanation of things? (shrink)
The correspondence theory of truth is a precise and innovative account of how the truth of a proposition depends upon that proposition's connection to a piece of reality. Joshua Rasmussen refines and defends the correspondence theory of truth, proposing new accounts of facts, propositions, and the correspondence between them. With these theories in hand, he then offers original solutions to the toughest objections facing correspondence theorists. Addressing the Problem of Funny Facts, Liar Paradoxes, and traditional epistemological questions concerning how our (...) minds can access reality, he challenges recent objections, and defends what has traditionally been the most popular theory of truth. Written with clarity, precision, and sensitivity to a range of philosophical backgrounds, his book will appeal to advanced students and scholars seeking a deeper understanding of the relationship between truth and reality. (shrink)
We uncover a surprising discovery about the basis of thoughts. We begin by giving some plausible axioms about thoughts and their grounds. We then deduce a theorem, which has dramatic ramifications for the basis of all thoughts. The theorem implies that thoughts cannot come deterministically from any purely “thoughtless” states. We expect this result to be too dramatic for many philosophers. Hence, we proceed to investigate the prospect of giving up the axioms. We show that each axiom’s negation itself has (...) dramatic consequences that should be of interest to philosophers of mind. Our proof of the theorem provides a new guiderail for thinking about the nature and origin of thoughts. (shrink)
I propose a new guide for assessing claims about what is possible. I offer examples of modal claims that are, in a certain intuitive respect, ?continuous? with one another. I then put forward a general, defeasible principle of modal continuity that can account for our intuitions about those examples. According to this principle, statements that differ by a mere quantitative term don't normally differ with respect to being possibly true. I offer a precise statement of the principle, and then I (...) consider exceptions in an effort to find a more nuanced continuity principle that is more reliable and still sufficiently general. Next, I offer a possible explanation of why modal continuity tends to hold and why exceptions occur where they do. Although my primary purpose is to introduce a new technique for modal reasoning, I showcase the power of the principle by applying it to a philosophical dispute concerning parts and wholes: the principle, if true, reveals a new cost of the thesis that composition is restricted. Furthermore, I point out examples of other philosophical inquiries (in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophical cosmology) that may benefit from a principle of modal continuity. The principle gives us a new tool for assessing a wide variety of modal claims. (shrink)
We investigate the value of persons. Our primary goal is to chart a path from equal and extreme value to infinite value. We advance two arguments. Each argument offers a reason to think that equal and extreme value are best accounted for if we are infinitely valuable. We then raise some difficult but fruitful questions about the possible grounds or sources of our infinite value, if we indeed have such value.
Philosophers of time say that if presentism is true (i.e. if reality is comprised solely of presently existing things), then a complete description of reality must contain tensed terms, such as ‘was’, ‘presently is’ and ‘will be’. I counter this viewpoint by explaining how the presentist may de-tense our talk about times. I argue, furthermore, that, since the A-theory of time denies the success of any such de-tensing strategy, presentism is not a version of the A-theory – contrary to the (...) popular opinion. (shrink)
I develop new paths to the existence of a concrete necessary being. These paths assume a metaphysical framework in which there are abstract states of affairs that can obtain or fail to obtain. One path begins with the following causal principle: necessarily, any contingent concrete object possibly has a cause. I mark out steps from that principle to a more complex causal principle and from there to the existence of a concrete necessary being. I offer a couple alternative causal principles (...) and paths, too. The paths marked out rely on relatively modest causal principles and avoid many obstacles that traditional cosmological arguments face. (shrink)
Theists typically think the freedom to choose between right and wrong is a great good . Yet, they also typically think that the very best being—God—and inhabitants of the very best place—heaven—lack this kind of freedom. The question arises: if freedom to choose evil is so good, then why is it absent from the best being and the best place? I discuss articulations of this question in the literature and point out drawbacks of answers that have been proposed. I then (...) propose a new answer by showing how freedom to do evil could result in certain good situations even if it does not contribute to the intrinsic greatness of a certain being or place. (shrink)
Arguments for substance dualism—the theory that we are at least partly non-material beings—abound. Many such arguments begin with our capacity to engage in conscious thought and end with dualism. Such are familiar. But there is another route to dualism. It begins with our moral value and ends with dualism. In this article, we develop and assess the prospects for this new style of argument. We show that, though one extant version of the argument does not succeed, there may yet be (...) a deep problem for standard physical accounts of our nature. (shrink)
I present a new argument for the thesis that there is a necessarily existing, causally powerful entity—a necessary being. The outline of the argument is this: (i) necessarily, every beginning of a certain sort S (which I'll specify) can have a cause; (ii) a beginning to the existence of all non-necessarily existing things would be of sort S; (iii) such a beginning can obtain; (iv) such a beginning cannot be caused unless there is a necessary being; therefore, (v) there is (...) a necessary being. The argument uses a causal principle that is more modest than causal principles previously used in arguments for a necessary being. (shrink)
Not a lot of work on theistic arguments has been devoted to drawing connections between a necessary being and theistic properties. In this paper, I identify novel paths from a necessary being to certain theistic properties: volition, infinite power, infinite knowledge, and infinite goodness. The steps in those paths are an outline for future work on what William Rowe (The Cosmological Argument, 1975, p. 6) has called “stage II” of the cosmological argument.
I develop a new theory of times. I show how to analyze times as tenselessly describable “abstract” entities. Some philosophers make use of ersatz times, which are abstract entities such as maximal states of affairs that bear earlier than and later than relations to one another. Although these times are normally thought to exemplify A-properties that cannot be expressed in a purely tenseless language, I explain how a tenseless theory can accommodate abstract times. I do this by defending Rasmussen’s tenseless (...) presentism against a recent objection, and getting on the table a new theory of time that combines eternalism with a B-series of genuine, abstract times. The result is a new way to think about a familiar category: time. (shrink)
Cosmological arguments from contingency attempt to show that there is a necessarily existing god‐like being on the basis of the fact that any concrete things exist at all. Such arguments are built out of the following components: (i) a causal principle that applies to non‐necessary entities of a certain category; (ii) a reason to think that if the causal principle is true, then there would have to be a necessarily existing concrete thing; (iii) a reason to think that the necessarily (...) existing thing would be god‐like. In this essay, I discuss various ways of developing each of these components to produce an argument from contingency, and I point out classic objections and replies along the way. I also make note of some of the most recent developments in arguments from contingency and point out avenues for future research. (shrink)
Dennis Whitcomb argues that there is no God on the grounds that God is supposed to be omniscient, yet nothing could be omniscient due to the nature of grounding. We give a formally identical argument that concludes that one of the present co-authors does not exist. Since he does exist, Whitcomb’s argument is unsound. But why is it unsound? That is a difficult question. We venture two answers. First, one of the grounding principles that the argument relies on is false. (...) Second, the argument equivocates between two kinds of grounding: instance-grounding and quasi-mereological grounding. Happily, the equivocation can be avoided; unhappily, avoidance comes at the price of a false premise. (shrink)
I apply developments in modal reasoning to the question of whether God has necessary existence. My larger task is to assess the main reasons to think that God is not a metaphysically necessary being. I consider Hume’s conceivability-based argument, and then I pay attention to more recent arguments, including Swinburne’s neo-Humean argument and the subtraction argument. I show that such arguments face a ‘parity’ problem, since the very reasoning that gets them off the ground also launches parallel arguments for an (...) opposite conclusion. In my closing section, I sketch an argument schema designed to illustrate a new, general strategy for deducing the necessary existence of God by building upon recent modal cosmological arguments. (shrink)
Plural quantification, often used to evade Russell paradoxes, will lead back to them, given certain assumptions about propositions. This chapter provides a more generalized version of the path to paradox by showing that any theory that makes possible the construction of an appropriate packaging relation falls prey to a Russell paradox. It gives examples of widely-held metaphysical theories that require such a relation. It shows that the paradoxes that can result from plural quantification are more widely damaging, and harder to (...) tame, than has been recognized. It also displays formal requirements that any metaphysical framework with a packaging relation must meet if it is to have a chance of escaping self-contradiction. The chapter first gives the general paradox-generating setup, and then shows how three families of metaphysical assumptions allow one to instantiate it. It concludes by assessing the aftermath of the arguments presented. (shrink)
I introduce new details in an argument for necessarily existing propositions. The crux of the argument marks out a pathway to the conclusion that necessary truths cannot themselves be necessarily true unless they necessarily exist. I motivate the steps in the argument and then address several standard objections, including one that makes use of the distinction between ‘truth in’ and ‘truth at’. The purpose of the argument is to generate deeper insights into the nature of propositions and the logic of (...) necessity. The argument also gives us a new reason to believe the traditional answer to the question of why there is anything: there is something because the alternative is impossible. (shrink)
This chapter aims to develop an argument in support of the basic mentality thesis. A “counting” argument is constructed in the chapter that poses a problem for the identity thesis. Then, the chapter extends the “counting” argument in a way that exposes a problem for the dependence (mind grounded in physical) thesis. The basic strategy of a counting argument is to show that there is a greater quantity of members of the one category than of some other. To illustrate, the (...) chapter considers the categories integers and reals. These categories both have infinitely many members. To further illustrate the categorical difference between the physical and nonphysical, it also considers building a Lego tower. The divide between physical and nonphysical properties involves much more than a mere difference with respect to complexity of psychological content. Next, the chapter justifies the basic mentality thesis by considering the main arguments for standard physicalism (reductive or nonreductive). (shrink)
We develop and knit together several theodicies in order to find a more complete picture of why certain forms of animal suffering might be permitted by a perfect being. We focus on an especially potent form of the problem of evil, which arises from considering why a perfectly good, wise, and powerful God might use evolutionary mechanisms that predictably result in so much animal suffering and loss of life. There are many existing theodicies on the market, and although they offer (...) helpful resources, we combine and further develop several proposals to produce a composite theodicy that avoids certain shortcomings of the individual theodicies. An important element of our project is locating a role for randomness in cosmic and biological evolution. In particular, we show how randomness might enhance or enable certain goods, including everlasting goods, at the risk of temporary evils. (shrink)
Many people think that truth somehow depends upon the way things are. Yet, it has proven difficult to precisely explain the nature of this dependence. The most common view is that truth depends upon the way things are by corresponding to things. But this account relocates the difficulty: one now wonders what correspondence is. It is worth emphasizing that the question of how truth relates to reality is not only a question for correspondence theorists; theorists of all stripes may wonder (...) how truth and reality connect. There are many reasons one might care to have an analysis of how truth relates to reality. Here are two. First, an analysis would help philosophers better understand how truth could depend upon the way things are. Why is it that when Joe shoves his cat off his pillow, the proposition that Joe's cat is on his pillow switches from true to false? It may seem puzzling that an abstract thing, such as a proposition, should be affected by physical changes to concrete particulars. How does that happen? The difficulty of seeing just how true propositions are able to systematically relate to reality will be called "the Problem of Matching." A thorough analysis of the relationship between truth and reality would effectively solve the Problem of Matching. (shrink)
Rasmussen develops a new answer to the question, "Why does anything exist?" He begins by describing a puzzle about how anything can exist. The puzzle motivates the quest to explain things as far as one can. To solve the puzzle, Rasmussen describes a sequence of scenes in a story about existence. The story brings to light a three-pronged explanation of existence: (i) things exist because it is impossible for nothing to have existed, (ii) it is impossible for nothing to have (...) existed because there is a foundational reality that cannot not exist, and (iii) such a foundation would have a certain nature—to be specified--that allows it to be foundational. Rasmussen considers how this theory of fundamental reality can incorporate other large scale theories, including Platonism, axiarchism, and naturalism. (shrink)
I bring to light a set-theoretic reason to think that there are more mental properties than shapes, sizes, masses, and other characteristically “physical” properties. I make use of a couple counting principles. One principle, backed by a Cantorian-style argument, is that pluralities outnumber particulars: that is, there is a distinct plurality of particulars for each particular, but not vice versa. The other is a principle by which we may coherently identify distinct mental properties in terms of arbitrary pluralities of physical (...) properties. I motivate these principles and explain how they together imply that there are more mental properties than physical properties. I then argue that certain parody arguments fail for various instructive reasons. The purpose of my argument is to identify an unforeseen “counting” cost of a certain reductive materialist view of the mind. (shrink)
I consider whether a contradiction may be deducible from the proposition that God does not exist. First, I expose a candidate counterexample to a key premise in Swinburne’s argument against the deducibility of a contradiction from God’s non-existence. Second, I present two new strategies one might use to deduce a contradiction. Both strategies make use of Tarski's T-schema together with developments in other theistic arguments. One argument is a conceptualist argument from necessary truth for a necessary mind, and the other (...) is a two-stage contingency argument for the same conclusion. The purpose of this article is not to decisively defend these arguments, but to expose new territory relevant to investigating the nature of God's necessity. (shrink)
We introduce three arguments for the thesis that time cannot exist prior to an original creation event. In the first argument, we seek to show that if time doesn’t depend upon creation, then time is infinite in the backwards direction, which is incompatible with arguments for a finite past. In the second and third arguments, we allow for the possibility of backwards-infinite time but argue that God could not have a sufficiently good reason to refrain from creating for infinitely many (...) moments—either in a world void of created things or in the actual world prior to creation. Our end goal is to help clarify connections between time and divine action. (shrink)
In response to the intellectual movement of New Atheism, this volume articulates a "New Theist" response that has at its core a desire to engage in productive and depolarizing dialogue. To ensure this book is of interest to atheists and theists alike, a team of experts in the field of philosophy of religion offer an assessment of the strongest New Atheist arguments. The chapters address the most pertinent questions about God, including politics and morality, and each essay shows how a (...) reflective theist might deal with points raised by the New Atheists. This volume is a serious academic engagement with the questions asked by New Atheism. As such, it will be of significant interest to scholars working in the philosophy of religion and theology, as well as those engaged in religious studies generally. (shrink)
When reason leads to doubt -- The bridge of reason -- The foundation theory -- Testing ground -- Eternal power -- Purely actual -- Foundation of mind -- Foundation of matter -- Foundation of morals -- Foundation of reason -- Perfect foundation -- Challenging the bridge -- Removing barriers -- On the other side of the bridge.