This book offers a defense of the tensed theory of time, a critique of the New Theory of Reference, and an argument that simultaneity is absolute. Although Smith rejects ordinary language philosophy, he shows how it is possible to argue from the nature of language to the nature of reality. Specifically, he argues that semantic properties of tensed sentences are best explained by the hypothesis that they ascribe to events temporal properties of futurity, presentness, or pastness and do not merely (...) ascribe relations of earlier than or simultaneity. He criticizes the New Theory of Reference, which holds that "now" refers directly to a time and does not ascribe the property of presentness. Smith does not adopt the old or Fregean theory of reference but develops a third alternative, based on his detailed theory of de re and de dicto propositions and a theory of cognitive significance. He concludes the book with a lengthy critique of Einstein's theory of time. Smith offers a positive argument for absolute simultaneity based on his theory that all propositions exist in time. He shows how Einstein's relativist temporal concepts are reducible to a conjunction of absolutist temporal concepts and relativist nontemporal concepts of the observable behavior of light rays, rigid bodies, and the like. (shrink)
The Preface and the General Introduction to the book set the debate within the wider philosophical context and show why the subject of temporal becoming is a perennial concern of science, religion, language, logic, and the philosophy of ...
you use it. These two assumptions, which I believe to be false, are based on a more fundamental assumption, that the rule governing the reference of an indexical remains constant from use to use. Contemporary theories hold that the reference of an indexical varies from use to (relevantly different) use, but that the reference-fixing rule of use is You can search..
Contemporary science presents us with the remarkable theory that the universe began to exist about fifteen billion years ago with a cataclysmic explosion called "the Big Bang." The question of whether Big Bang cosmology supports theism or atheism has long been a matter of discussion among the general public and in popular science books, but has received scant attention from philosophers. This book sets out to fill this gap by means of a sustained debate between two philosophers, William Lane Craig (...) and Quentin Smith, who defend opposing positions. Craig argues that the Big Bang that began the universe was created by God, while Smith argues that the Big Bang has no cause. Alternating chapters by the two philosophers criticize and attempt to refute preceding arguments. Their arguments are based on Einstein's theory of relativity and include a discussion of the new quantum cosmology recently developed by Stephen Hawking and popularized in A Brief History of Time. (shrink)
There is sufficient evidence at present to justify the belief that the universe began to exist without being caused to do so. This evidence includes the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems that are based on Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, and the recently introduced Quantum Cosmological Models of the early universe. The singularity theorems lead to an explication of the beginning of the universe that involves the notion of a Big Bang singularity, and the Quantum Cosmological Models represent the beginning largely in (...) terms of the notion of a vacuum fluctuation. Theories that represent the universe as infinitely old or as caused to begin are shown to be at odds with or at least unsupported by these and other current cosmological notions. (shrink)
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)
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.
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)
The new tenseless theory of time, Developed primarily by j j c smart and d h mellor, States that tensed sentence-Utterances cannot be translated by tenseless ones but nevertheless have tenseless truth conditions. Smart and mellor infer from this that the tenseless theory of time is true. The author argues, However, That the rules of use of tensed sentence-Utterances entail that these utterances also have tensed truth conditions. This implies that the tensed theory of time is true.
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)
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.
infinite, and offer several arguments in sup port of this thesis. I believe their arguments are unsuccessful and aim to refute six of them in the six sections of the paper. One of my main criticisms concerns their supposition that an infinite series of past events must contain some events separated from the present event by an infinite number of intermediate events, and consequently that from one of these infinitely distant past events the present could never have been reached. I (...) introduce.. (shrink)
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)
The standard view of philosophers is that the existence of particular events within our universe is capable of being explained in terms of initial conditions and natural laws, but that the existence of our universe itself is a 'brute given' that is incapable of naturalistic explanation. A supernatural explanation of the existence of our universe may be alleged to be possible ('God created our universe so that humans may exist and the existence of humans is an intrinsic good'), but an (...) explanation that appeals only to factors, situations or regularities in nature is deemed to be in principle impossible. It is also a standard view of philosophers that the less fundamental natural laws of our universe are capable of being explained in terms of more fundamental laws of our universe, but that the most basic natural laws of our universe are incapable of being explained naturalistically. Perhaps they can be explained supernaturally, by asserting that God ordained them so that humans may eventually evolve, but no other explanation is supposed possible. (shrink)
The big bang cosmological theory is relevant to Christian theism and other theist perspectives since it represents the universe as beginning to exist ex nihilo about 15 billion years ago. This paper addresses the question of whether it is reasonable to believe that God created the big bang. Some theists answer in the affirmative, but it is argued in this paper that this belief is not reasonable. In the course of this argument, there is a discussion of the metaphysical necessity (...) of natural laws, of whether the law of causality is true a priori, and of other pertinent issues. (shrink)
The anthropic principle or the associated anthropic coincidences have been used by philosophers such as John Leslie (1989), William Lane Craig (1988) and Richard Swinburne (1990) to support the thesis that God exists. In this paper I shall examine Swinburne's argument from the anthropic coincidences. I will show that Swinburne's premises, coupled with his principle of credulity and the failure of his theodicy in The Existence of God, disconfirms theism and confirms instead the hypothesis that there exists a malevolent creator (...) of the universe. (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)
In a critical dialogue with the metaphysical tradition from Plato to Hegel to contemporary schools of thought, the author convincingly argues that traditional rationalist metaphysics has failed to accomplish its goal of demonstrating the existence of a di.
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.
This short article aims to illustrate the mutually question-begging arguments that are often presented in debates between opponents and defenderss of McTaggart’s “proof” that A-properties (pastness, presentness and futurity) are logically incoherent. A sample of such arguments is taken from a recent debate between L. Nathan Oaklander (a defender of McTaggart) and myself (an opponent of McTaggart) and a method of escaping the impasse that is often reached in such debates is suggested.
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)
This book is the first to provide a critical history of analytic philosophy from its inception in the late nineteenth century to the present day. Quentin Smith focuses on the connections between the four leading movements in analytic philosophy—logical realism, logical positivism, ordinary language analysis, and linguistic essentialism—and corresponding twentieth-century theories of ethics and of religion. Through a critical evaluation of each school’s theoretical positions, Smith counters the widespread view of analytic philosophy as indifferent to important questions about right and (...) wrong and human meaning. He argues that analytic philosophy throughout its history has revolved around the central issues of existence, and he offers a new ethics and philosophy of religion. The author develops a positive ethical theory based on a method of ethics first formulated by Robert Adams. Smith’s theory belongs to the tradition of perfectionism or self-realization ethics and builds on Thomas Hurka’s recent theory of perfectionism. In his consideration of philosophy of religion, Smith concludes that there is a sound "logical argument from evil" that takes into account Alvin Plantinga’s free-will defense and undermines monotheism, paving the way to a naturalistic pantheism. (shrink)
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)
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)
The aim of this paper is to show that the definition of a possible world in the actualist tradition of A. Plantinga, R.M. Adams, R. Chisholm, J. Pollock and N . Wolterstorff is unable to accomodate tensed states of affairs. An example of a tensed state of affairs is the transiently obtaining state of affairs that the storm is present, which obtains only if its negation, it is not the case that the storm is present also obtains but at different (...) times. A possible world that includes tensed states of affairs and their negations cannot be defined in the traditional way, which states that a possible world is a state of affairs S that includes every state of affairs S' or (exclusive disjunction) the negation of S'. Rather, it must be defined in a new way: A possible world is a state of affairs S that includes every state of affairs S' or (inclusive disjunction) the negation of S', such that for every pair P of mutually contradictory tensed states of affairs entailed by S, the members of P obtain nonsimultaneously in S. (shrink)
Some philosophers follow mctaggart in holding that there is a vicious infinite regress of tensed predications. Other philosophers claim there is no regress. The author argues that there is a regress, But it is benign.
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)