Exploring Ontology

It's all about the deep questions.

Random Thoughts 1

I’m starting a pseudo-series detailing random thoughts I have relating to philosophy. Sometimes random thoughts eventually turn into something useful and sometimes not so much. These are not intended to be formal and are usually not as well thought-out as they could be, but hey I’m not responsible for that according to Van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument so don’t blame me.

PSR = every contingent fact has an explanation. Is PSR itself contingent or necessary? It sure seems to be contingent, after all its not logically, or metaphysically impossible that things can happen with no explanation. I would consider a world where things just randomly popped into existence as disturbing but not incoherent (I know this relies on a dubious conceivability entails possibility argument but I guess it will have to do). So, if its not necessary, then it is contingent. Therefore, without risk of self-defeat it must have an explanation why it exists rather than why it doesn’t exist. At least this has to be the case in worlds where it does exist, because in worlds where it does not exist there needn’t be an explanation for its non-existence. One worry of trans-world talk creeps up here. Say everything in world X has an explanation, but that is not the case in world Y. Suppose someone asks, in world X, “Why is it the case that PSR does not hold in world Y?” Now, since PSR holds in world X there has to be an explanation for every question. If there were no explanation, then there is some contingent fact “In world Y PSR does not hold” which exists in all possible worlds including world X, that has no explanation. This would then falsify PSR in world X contrary to the assumption that it held. So there does have to be an explanation for why the PSR does not hold in world Y. Furthermore, in every single world in which PSR did not hold there would have to be an explanation for why that is so. This is not logically impossible, seeing that if PSR does not hold in some world Y it does not entail that nothing has an explanation, only that some things have no explanation. This would seem to be a huge coincidence, however, which striked me as interesting. Continuing on, what could be the sort of reason for the existence of PSR? Just a certain causal ordering and structure that exists in a world? This doesn’t seem like it would be acausal explanation of PSR, at least not a satisfactory one. It immediately begs the question why is there a causal/explanatory structure? Haha, that’s funny. What’s the cause/explanation for the causal/explanatory structure.

Another thought:  The motivation to apply the PSR to contingent facts is because things could have been otherwise. There are different possibilities for contingent facts. However, there are also two possibilities for necessary ones. Either a necessary being exist in all possible worlds or it does not exist in any possible world. So, the same motivation seems to apply to necessary beings, at least on the face of it, as it does to contingent ones. There has to be some reason why a particular necessary being exists in all possible worlds rather than in no possible worlds (or vice versa). With these considerations in mind, there appears to be two threats here; one threat involves an infinite regress and another threat involves circularity. If there has to be a reason why a particular necessary being exists in all possible worlds rather than in no possible worlds (as surely there seems to be for such a huge distinction), this reason must itself be necessary since it must exist in all possible worlds. This necessary reason would then have to have a reason for its existing everywhere rather than existing nowhere, ad infinitum. The circularity problem is for theists. If there must be a reason why God exists in every possible world rather than in no possible world, then that reason would be apart from God (an example could be “according to the laws of logic God cannot not exist”). But if the grounding for everything is in God and if God is grounded in this necessary fact, which is part of “everything”, then the grounding is circular.


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