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A PSR-Esque Argument for Gods Existence

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  • A PSR-Esque Argument for Gods Existence

    I am not going to justify all the premises, just simply lay them out. I am sure you all will have some sense in which the way each premises is justified. The reason I find this more compelling than the PSR, is that premise 1 is almost impossible to deny.

    (P)1 Explanations exist.
    (P)2 Explanations must terminate in necessity.
    (C)1 So, a necessary thing exists.
    (P)3 To say a necessary thing exists, is to say God exists.
    (C)2 Therefore, God exists.

  • #2
    What is the justification of premise 2?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Brian View Post
      What is the justification of premise 2?
      If you have an infinite chain of explanations, that would mean that the explanation for a thing is derived from nowhere. Reason being, you would never get to the thing where the eplanatory power comes from. So, the chain itself, has no power to explain anything. Its the same reason why a thing can not be sustained by an infinitely long, essentially ordered chain. The reason I didn´t say that you can´t have an infinite series, is because you could in a sense say that the explanatory power of the chain is derived from something outside of itself, but the chain by itself wouldn´t be sufficient.

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      • #4
        I'm not sure what you mean when you say you find this more compelling than PSR. Your argument has to assume the principle of sufficient reason in order to justify premise 2.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by RomanJoe View Post
          I'm not sure what you mean when you say you find this more compelling than PSR. Your argument has to assume the principle of sufficient reason in order to justify premise 2.
          It doesn´t necessitate that all contigent facts have explanations, but the particular chain of explanations connected to a particular contigent fact, must terminate in necessity. This chain doesn´t invetiably involve all contigent facts or them having explanations.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ClassicalLiberal.Theist View Post

            It doesn´t necessitate that all contigent facts have explanations, but the particular chain of explanations connected to a particular contigent fact, must terminate in necessity. This chain doesn´t invetiably involve all contigent facts or them having explanations.
            So you're arguing that brute facts can exist but that at least one chain of contingent beings must terminate in a necessary being? If that's so, you'll have to justify why there must be at least one chain of contingent beings that terminates in a necessary being.

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            • #7
              I see. Not every contingent fact has an explanation, but those which do are always explained by facts which are themselves explicable, and these chains of explanation must terminate in something necessary.

              There are antecedently three sorts of possibility for a chain of explanations. Either it terminates in some contingent fact or it terminates in some necessary fact or it never terminates. Many regress arguments work by arguing that the first and third are not genuine possibilities. If the chain terminates merely in some other contingent thing, or if it keeps going on forever, then the first thing wouldn't have been an explanation in the first place.

              There is a question of what entitles one to say that, however. The metaphor of "explanatory power" is one way of making the point in the traditional arguments. The first and third possibilities start to look inadequate if contingent facts need to be explained. For then it looks like they explain what they explain by virtue of being themselves explained. So if the chain terminates in an unexplained contingent fact, the contingent facts downstream are not explained either. Or if the chain never terminates, there seems to be nothing by virtue of which anything ever gets explained.

              But if PSR and similar causal principles are not true, then it is not clear what the problem is. Why not say that some facts are explained by facts which are not themselves explained?

              Moreover, if explanations must terminate in something necessary, but not everything contingent needs an explanation, then how do we know that there are any explanations at all? For all we know, all of the apparent explanations might just terminate in something contingent. Premise 1 might be false. The traditional arguments obviate this sort of worry because if every contingent fact needs an explanation, then we know that there are explanations as soon as we know that there are contingent facts. There is no possibility that the apparent explanations turn out to be non-explanations.

              I don't think that the set of views is inconsistent: that there are explanations, that what explains must in turn be explained, and that PSR is false. But it seems to be hard to motivate.

              There are things one might try to motivate it. On one understanding, explaining a fact is in some sense bringing it under necessity, and it might be thought that the first and third possibilities don't succeed in doing so. But then the second possibility seems also to fail. For it seems that explanations could be prevented, and if unexplained contingent facts are possible and could prevent the obtaining of other explicable facts, then explanation does not bring a fact under necessity. Or else, if the necessary fact cited by the second possibility necessarily explains what it explains, then there is a modal collapse on our hands.

              It is also worth noting that even the traditional arguments rely on something more than a chain of explanation, or at least they understand 'chain' in a particular way. It is not simply that some fact is explained by some other fact, which is in turn explained by another. The usual grounds for doubting the first and third possibilities requires some sort of dependence. However, it's not clear how to fill that out if PSR is false.
              Last edited by Greg; 02-04-2019, 10:18 PM.

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