Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Causing something to be uncaused

Here's a surprising thing: It is possible to cause something to be uncaused. Let's suppose Socrates' parents chose to have only one child and that was Socrates. Let U be any uncaused being whose existence is independent of the decisions of Socrates' parents. Perhaps U is God or the number 2 (or some quantum event if these are uncaused--I think they're not). Consider the disjunctive event E of U existing or Socrates having a sibling. This event has no cause. But if Socrates' parents had had another child, then E would have had a cause, namely Socrates' parents who would have been the cause of Socrates' having a sibling and hence of the disjunctive event. So, by choosing to have only one child, Socrates' parents caused E to have no cause.


SMatthewStolte said...

It sounds less strange if you say that “I can cause something not to be caused,” or even, “I can bring it about that nothing fitting a certain description is caused.” (The latter formulation does sound strange, I admit, but only because of its awkwardness, not because of its meaning.)

Alexander R Pruss said...