Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Presentism and ex nihilo nihil fit

Consider these three theses:

  1. There is at most one empty world, i.e., world where nothing exists.

  2. Presentism is true.

  3. Something can come from nothing.

By 3, the following should be possible: first there is nothing, and then there is something. But if something can come from nothing, a fortiori it is possible that nothing comes from nothing. Thus, by bivalence about the future, here are two metaphysical possibilities:

  1. There is nothing now, but later there will be something.

  2. There is nothing now, and there will never be anything.

By presentism, if there is nothing now, there is nothing. So, both 4 and 5 entail that the world is empty. But there is at most one empty world. So, 4 and 5 are true in the same world, which is absurd!

Thus, we should reject one of 1–3, or reject bivalence about the future.

Given the plausibility of bivalence as well as of 1, we have an argument that presentists should deny 3.

I myself deny 3, but since I’m not a presentist I deny it on other grounds.

1 comment:

Michael Gonzalez said...

I think we should deny (3) on the grounds that "can" implies possibility which implies the powers of something to bring about the sufficient conditions.

Interestingly, if the empty world does not contain the necessary and sufficient conditions to bring anything about, then 5 is meaningless. But then, if it does contain those conditions, then there should already be something. That's why I like the idea of a being who has no necessary conditions (thus, any world, including the otherwise empty one is completely "sufficient", and so to suppose the empty world could exist and yet this being (for whom even emptiness is sufficient) fail to exist is a logical contradiction). If we add in that it is a powerful being and an agent with free will, we get the best and simplest end of the explanatory chain (and, happily enough, something very much like God).

All my meditations on modality and empty worlds and sufficient conditions always lead me back to that same sort of conclusion.