Responses to Objections

Responses to Objections - Responses to Objections Hume...

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Responses to Objections Hume argues that we can reasonably infer that the world has a cause only if we observe a large number of worlds and find causes in each case. I argue, in response, that all we need to do is find one category of things, in this case, wholly contingent facts, to which the world belongs and for which we have good empirical confirmation of the fact that things in this category have causes. In applying the general causal principle to the world, we are applying it to a novel situation, but we do this all the time. The skeptic owes us a special reason for doubting that the world has a cause. William Rowe has argued that the principle of sufficient reason can be shown to be false. Rowe argues that the existence of positive contingent facts is itself a contingent fact. No causal explanation of this fact is possible, since the explanation would have to be either necessary or contingent. If it were necessary, then it would be a necessary and not a contingent fact that there are contingent facts. If it were contingent, then it would be part of what needs to be explained, namely, that there are contingent facts. My response to Rowe's objection involves two elements. First, I use a principle of causation, and not the Principle of Sufficient Reason. In my view, causes do not necessitate their effects. Thus, it is possible for a necessary fact to cause a contingent fact. Second, it is fact-tokens and not truths that are caused. The truth, that there are contingent facts, is not itself a fact. Instead, it is a proposition that is made true by any one of a large number of contingent facts. It is these facts, and not the true proposition, that are caused. Another interesting problem was raised by James Ross. Ross points to the difficulty of causally
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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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Responses to Objections - Responses to Objections Hume...

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