Cosmological Argument Part III: A Modal Argument.
Sorry I’m so far behind on posting this. But here is the section of my paper where I give the modal cosmological argument:
Plenty of different thinkers have cast doubt on the premises of the cosmological argument from contingency, but I believe that one can make a cosmological argument that one can make which can avoid the problems of the argument from contingency. This argument weakens some of the premises of the argument from contingency by making use of premises that are making claims about some merely possible world. This argument may suffer from other different objections but this seems to be the fate of any philosophical argument. In this section I will first make this modal cosmological argument and then defend it from potential objections.
- Assumptions and Argument
There are three assumptions that I need to make in order for the argument to go through. The first can be formulated in two ways:
(6) Possibly, the sovereignty thesis holds.
(6*) Possibly, there is a sovereign being.
Now (6) and (6*) need some explaining. What is the sovereignty thesis (ST from now on)? And what does it mean for a being to be sovereign? The sovereignty thesis can be stated as thus:
(ST) There is an X such that for every Y such that Y ≠ X, Y depends on X for its existence.
So what the (ST) states is that there is a being, which every being distinct from it depends on that being for its existence. We can then define what it means for a being to be sovereign. A being X is sovereign if and only if everything distinct from X depends on X for its existence.
Note that (ST) is a tenant of classical theism. Theists believe that God exists independently of everything else and that everything else in existence is dependent on Him for its existence. This does not mean that to prove that the sovereignty thesis holds is to prove the truth of theism. But I just wanted to point out the connection between the two positions.
The next assumption deals with the nature of dependence:
(7) For any X and Y: If X depends on Y for its existence, then if X exists so does Y.
(7) can also be stated counterfactually:
(7*) For any X and Y: If X depends on Y for its existence, then if Y does not exist, X does not exist.
What (7) says is that if one object depends on another object then the existence of the entity, which the dependent thing depends on, is a necessary condition for the dependents existence. So let’s say that I depend on the existence of matter for my existence. Then it is the case that if there is no matter in existence then I don’t exist.
There is one last thing to note about (7). Some people have offered (7) as definition for dependence, but I am not committing myself to this strong of a claim. Instead I am just committing my self to the claim that it is a necessary condition of two existing things that depend on each other that the dependent cannot exist without the thing it depends on.
This brings me to the last assumption:
(8) Some things necessarily exist.
This is just to say that at least one entity exists in all possible worlds. Presumably there are more, but all I need is for there to be at least one thing that exists in all possible worlds.
We are now in a place to make our argument. The first conclusion seems to be trivially true:
(E) Either the Sovereign being is (i) a Necessary thing or is (ii) not a necessary being.
The truth of (E) follows from the law of the excluded middle, making it a logical truth. If we take (i) then the sovereign being necessarily exists and whatever necessarily exist actually exists, so the sovereign being actually exists and we have the conclusion we are looking for. Assume (ii) for reductio ad absurdum, then:
(F) The sovereign being does not necessarily exist.
(6) and (8) entail:
(G) There is a possible world where some necessary things depend on the sovereign being for their existence.
From (7) and (G) we get:
(H) If the necessary beings exist then the Sovereign being exists.
(I) Necessary beings exist in all possible worlds.
Therefore from (H) and (G):
(J) The sovereign being exists in all possible worlds.
But this contradicts our assumption (F) so, this means that we must reject (F) and which gives us that the sovereign being necessarily exists.
The premises of this argument seem to be quite plausible. If theism is possibly true then so is (6). Further being committed to the truth of (6) commits one to a claim that is much weaker than just admitting the possibility of theism. Since (6) is a weaker claim it seems to just add more to its plausibility. (7) follows from most accounts of dependence. I have yet to find a view in the literature on dependence that does not at least have this as a consequence of the philosophers view. It seems to be a central intuition about what it is for one thing to depend on another. It seems hard to think of what grasp we would even have on the phenomena of dependence if the dependent thing could exist without what it depends on. (8) also seems to be quite plausible. It seems that mathematical objects must necessarily exist in order to provide a stable ontological ground for the practice. Many philosophers have also thought that propositions, states of affairs, and properties are other things that are necessary existents. It seems that if one wants to have an ersatz take on possible worlds we must hold that some of these things necessarily exist. So it seems that we have plenty of reason to hold that (8) is quite plausible.