Friday, May 31, 2013

A Cosmological Argument based on the Empire State Building

Assume:

  1. Necessarily, every exact duplicate of the Empire State Building has a cause.
  2. Necessarily, if an exact duplicate of the Empire State Building never changes, then neither it nor any of its parts cause its existence.
  3. Possibly, the only contingent beings ever are an unchanging duplicate of the Empire State Building and parts thereof.
Let w be a world where the only contingent beings ever are the unchanging duplicate of the Empire State Building and its parts. By (1), it has a cause. By (2), this cause cannot be the Empire State Building or a part thereof. Since those are all the contingent beings, the cause must be a necessary being, or include a necessary being as a part. So, possibly, there is a necessary being. By S5:
  1. There is a necessary being.

Premise (1) is a version of the Causal Principle specialized to the sorts of entities that we are most confident of there being causes of. One might wonder about why one needs the "never changes" in (2). But there is reason for it. Some objects can perhaps be caused by their parts. Imagine a bunch of trees that grow together to form a tower. We could likewise imagine a bunch of moving stony and metallic beings that come together to form an exact duplicate of the Empire State Building. This is ruled out by the "never changes".

4 comments:

Doug Benscoter said...

Does (2) rule out the possibility of simultaneous causation? It just seems to me that even if no part of the Empire State Building duplicate ever changes, each of its parts is still dependent on another insofar as if there were a change, then one part couldn't be removed without a collapse of sorts.

Alexander R Pruss said...

I don't mean to deny that. But the sorts of parts that the Empire State Building is made of--steel girders, limestone, etc.--are not suited to simultaneously causing the building's existence.

Oh, and it's efficient causation I'm talking about.

Doug Benscoter said...

Okay, so it's efficient causation, e.g. what produces the effect (simultaneously or temporally), as opposed to material causation, which in this case would be the steel beams, etc.

Starless Night said...

Could one potentially deny (3) since necessarily a duplicate of the Empire State Building implies an original Empire State Building at some point in time, and such a building would itself be contingent?