Critique of the Cosmological Argumen1

Critique of the Cosmological Argumen1 - Critique of the...

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Critique of the Cosmological Argument: Hume In Part IX of Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion , we can extract a series of criticisms of the cosmological argument. First, Hume's character Cleanthes argues that an apriori argument for the existence of anything is impossible. This objection is not directly relevant to aposteriori versions of the cosmological argument, which is the only kind we have studied. Nonetheless, Hume's argument can be transformed into an argument that necessary existence is impossible. 1. We can conceive of God's existence. 2. If we can conceive of something's existence, we can conceive of its non-existence. 3. If we can conceive of God's non-existence, then the non-existence of God does not imply a contradiction. 4. If God's existence is necessary, then the non-existence of God implies a contradiction. 5. Therefore, God's existence is not necessary. It is the fourth premise of this argument that is crucial. This fourth premise reflects Hume's identification of possibility with conceivability. To say that God's existence is necessary is to say that his non-existence is impossible. Hume gives a psychological interpretation of impossibility: to say that something is impossible is just to say that our idea of the thing is self-contradictory, or involves some other feature that is repugnant to reason. In making this identification of the metaphysical distinction between possibility and impossibility with the introspectible psychological distinction between conceivability and inconceivability, Hume is taking to its logical conclusion a turn away from the real natures of things and toward our ideas of things that began with the philosophy of Nominalism, created in the 14th century by William of Ockham. This substitution of psychology for metaphysics also links Hume to the analytic philosophy of the early 20th century, especially the school of logical positivism or logical empiricism. Nominalists hold that there is no such thing as natures or essences. There is no such thing as humanity, only individual humans and the name or concept of "human". Since things have no real natures, there is nothing in things that can make certain conditions possible or impossible. Instead, possibility and impossibility are simply by-products of our use of language and concepts. An impossible condition is one that would correspond to an inconsistent or incoherent mental picture. In contrast, realists like Plato, Aristotle or Aquinas, hold that there are real natures in things. Our
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This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course PHI PHI2010 taught by Professor Jorgerigol during the Fall '09 term at Broward College.

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Critique of the Cosmological Argumen1 - Critique of the...

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