The Argument from Contingency

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PeteP
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Re: The Argument from Contingency

Postby PeteP » Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:36 am UTC

ian wrote:I still don't really understand the argument that a god can exist out of time as a prime mover, but something that isn't sentient can't.

Because god is a special snowflake and nothing can be as special as him. More seriously I can't remember any argument for that step, I think it's just one of these things where if you believe in God (and make arguments like that) it's just obvious that he would fill that role but there is no real reason why others would agree.

Hypnosifl
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Re: The Argument from Contingency

Postby Hypnosifl » Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:16 pm UTC

One thing that doesn't really make sense to me about this argument: how can a wholly necessary being be the explanation for contingent facts? Certainly any purely logical inference from a set of necessarily-true propositions (say, propositions about God and/or mathematics) would also be a necessary truth. To quote Time Bandits, a theist might say "I think it's something to do with free will", but in this context the concept of free will just seems like a non-explanation, or something we're supposed to accept as a "mystery" that defies any rational understanding.

Another possible flaw in the argument: we don't actually know that any facts about the universe are ultimately contingent! I have a fondness for physicists Max Tegmark's semi-philosophical Mathematical Universe Hypothesis, which supposes that mathematical platonism is true and that our physical universe is just one of the infinite set of mathematical structures (as physics describes it in a purely mathematical way), and that any mathematical structure complex enough to contain self-aware information-processing systems will seem equally real and "physical" to its inhabitants. If this were true, all facts about the our universe would be just as necessary as any other mathematical truth. Some philosophers have suggested something similar, I think Spinoza endorsed the idea that all truths were necessary ones for example.

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sevenperforce
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Re: The Argument from Contingency

Postby sevenperforce » Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:38 pm UTC

Hypnosifl wrote:Another possible flaw in the argument: we don't actually know that any facts about the universe are ultimately contingent! I have a fondness for physicists Max Tegmark's semi-philosophical Mathematical Universe Hypothesis, which supposes that mathematical platonism is true and that our physical universe is just one of the infinite set of mathematical structures (as physics describes it in a purely mathematical way), and that any mathematical structure complex enough to contain self-aware information-processing systems will seem equally real and "physical" to its inhabitants.

Indeed. Why butt your head against the major premise when you can pull the rug from beneath the minor premise?

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tomandlu
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Re: The Argument from Contingency

Postby tomandlu » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:21 pm UTC

Grr. Argh.

Just to add a recommended read to those who don't think philosophy has much of interest to say. My son gave me Russell's "The Problems of Philosophy" from 1912 to take on holiday. It's a fairly straight-forward (and short) but intriguing read.

Adding the wikipedia entry, as it has links to the text in various formats (including audio, which I suspect would be rather soporific).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Problems_of_Philosophy

As an aside, you can tell it largely predates QM - some of the analogies now look rather shaky, although that invalidates the choice of analogy rather than the point Russell is making, so no penalty awarded...
How can I think my way out of the problem when the problem is the way I think?


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