In my last Sobel post, I reconstructed the cosmological argument Sobel attributes to Leibniz in such a way that there was no obvious contradiction in the premises by using Leibniz's own resources. Here I want to try to produce an argument with more widely accepted premises. Recall that Sobel's reconstruction is as follows:
(1)The World - the Cosmos - exists. (2) The World is contingent, it is a contingent entity. (3) For everything that exists - for every fact and every existent entity - there is a sufficient reason for its existence. (4) The sufficient reason for the existence of any contingent entity runs in the end in terms of an existent being. :. (5) There exists an ultimate reason for the World, which reason is itself a necessary being. (p. 208)
Once we have done this, if we can make sense of a notion of necessitation other than (1) event causation, and (2) logical entailment (the most relevant such notion is agent causation), the premises will not contradict one another. We now add the premise that every beginning of existence is an event in the relevant sense, and the argument is again valid. Here's how it would go:
The other question that is left open is whether NE had a necessary beginning of existence, or had no beginning of existence. Either of these is compatible with NE's going out of existence, so we don't get a necessary being from this argument. Nevertheless, there is one rather obvious position one can take which will accommodate the conclusion of the argument in a way that makes for a more or less coherent picture of the world: NE is God, a necessary being, and is an agent cause.
Sobel addresses this kind of approach briefly in two places: 573-574n24, and 228-229. However, all he does is to very briefly rehearse general problems with metaphysical libertarianism/agent causation. These are problems, all right, but there are many philosophers who do not consider this position to have been decisively refuted, so an argument which takes the coherence of this position as a premise cannot necessarily, just for that reason, be dismissed.Posted by Kenny at September 23, 2010 7:35 PM
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