Monday, September 15, 2014

Needing a cause

I've been re-reading Samuel Clarke's cosmological argument. Here's a version of his argument:

  1. Anything that has a cause needs a cause.
  2. The sum of things that each need a cause needs a cause.
  3. Anything that exists and needs a cause has a cause.
  4. The cause of a sum of things that each need a cause is outside of the sum.
  5. There is a sum of all caused things.
  6. So, there is a cause of the sum of all caused things. (1-3,5)
  7. So, the sum of all caused things has an uncaused cause. (5,6)
I think the trickiest and most interesting thing in this argument is (2). I suppose the intuition here is that you're not going to get what you need simply by piling up needy beings.

Where I have "needs a cause", Samuel Clarke has "is dependent". That makes his analogue of (3) trivial, but it makes his analogue of (1) more controversial.

2 comments:

M.E. Lastrilla said...

Hi Dr. Pruss,

Regarding the cosmological argument, what would you say is some of the most interesting work done on the gap problem since the time you published your essay for the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology?

Thank you!

Alexander R Pruss said...

I think Josh Rasmussen has something interesting.