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The Cosmological Argument

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I thought I

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Thanks for starting this thread, david. I accept the cosmological argument as a sophisticated way of dealing with the infinite regress of causation, i.e., shifting the concept of the uncaused from existence to being. This way of positing a first cause avoids begging the question: e.g. "what caused the first cause?" This is because Being is taken to be different from yet related to existence and its domino chain of cause and effects.

However, I think "proof" is a misnomer in arguments for the existence of God. The so-called proofs are actually appeals to our sense of proportion and rationality, as beauty and poetry are. They boil down to subjective pointers and are, in my opinion, strongest when seen that way. One popular subjective argument is to start with the moral sense and ask where it comes from, if not from God. Another is to ask whether its true that "our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee" (Augustine). Although not seen as often in philosophy, I find these arguments more prevalent in literature. In Dostoevsky, for instance.

Anyways, I'll take a look at those links and see what is being said about the cosmological argument in the recent literature. I've only read the classical stuff, so it should be interesting. Speaking of the classical stuff,

here is Aquinas' proof for the Unmoved Mover. It's from St. Aquinas' Summa Theologica, Question 2, Article 3. Hold on to your seats.

It is certain and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is moved is moved by another, for nothing can be moved except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is moved; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing shoud be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e., that is should move itself. Therefore, whatever is moved must be moved by another. If that by which it is moved be itself moved, then this also must needs be moved by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover, seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are moved by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is moved by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, moved by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

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Koons

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Since the Big Bang initiates the very laws of physics, one cannot expect any physical explanation of this singularity; physical laws used to explain the expansion of the universe no longer hold at any time before t>0.

The response to this argument from the Big Bang is that, given the Grand Theory of Relativity, the Big Bang is not an event at all. An event takes place within a space-time context. But the Big Bang has no space-time context; there is neither time prior to the Big Bang nor a space in which the Big Bang occurs. Hence, the Big Bang cannot be considered as a physical event occurring at a moment of time. As Hawking notes, the finite universe has no space-time boundaries and hence lacks singularity and a beginning (Hawking 116, 136). Time might be multi-dimensional or imaginary, in which case one asymptotically approaches a beginning singularity but never reaches it. And without a beginning the universe requires no cause. The best one can say is that the universe is finite with respect to the past, not that it was an event with a beginning.

One might wonder, as Rundle does, how a supernatural agent could bring about the universe. He contends that a personal agent (God) cannot be the cause because intentional agency needs a body and actions occur within space-time.

The common strand running through the above quotes, as Ludovicus has concisely put it, is: "what caused the first cause?"

My view is that only what follows after the "first cause" can be said to be temporal, since it is only after this point that "actions occur within space-time." To speak of a cause before t>0 makes no sense because "cause" is a temporal concept, whereas anything before t>0 is, instead, atemporal. That is, using the notion of "cause" to refer outside of, or before, the inception of space-time, is senseless, making the question of "what caused the first cause?" equally senseless. As the second quote above states: "An event takes place within a space-time context."

So perhaps we should instead be asking: "What was the first cause?" Contemplation of this question, I think, shows that there perhaps can be no "cause" to speak of at the Big Bang (or, as Hawking puts it: "the finite universe has no space-time boundaries and hence lacks singularity and a beginning.") If time, or motion, started with the Big Bang, then not only effects, but also causes, can be said to occur only after the space-time clock begins to tick (t>0). Causes, making up part of an action, can only "occur within space-time." (I wonder whether the problem of distinguishing a cause from its effect has been noted, or whether it is considered a philosophical problem..?)

"But surely there must be a first cause of everything, something which initially set the ball rolling!?" I hear you exclaim. If so, then there must be an event which brought time into existence. However, events can only be temporal; can only occur within space-time. Therefore, no event can precede (and be the cause of) the inception of space-time.

This view eliminates talk about what preceded, or caused, the inception of space-time, and so too eliminates the possibility for a relationship between the necessary (outside space-time) and the contingent (inside space-time), or for a causal (spatio-temporal) account of time's origin.

Perhaps the lack of an causal or physical explanation here opens the door for a theistic or personal explanation, but I don't believe that such explanations have any causal justification.

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Since the Big Bang initiates the very laws of physics, one cannot expect any physical explanation of this singularity; physical laws used to explain the expansion of the universe no longer hold at any time before t>0.

The response to this argument from the Big Bang is that, given the Grand Theory of Relativity, the Big Bang is not an event at all. An event takes place within a space-time context.

[...]

My view is that only what follows after the "first cause" can be said to be temporal, since it is only after this point that "actions occur within space-time." To speak of a cause before t>0 makes no sense because "cause" is a temporal concept, whereas anything before t>0 is, instead, atemporal. That is, using the notion of "cause" to refer outside of, or before, the inception of space-time, is senseless, making the question of "what caused the first cause?" equally senseless [...] "An event takes place within a space-time context."

It is probably likely that an extremely consistent usage for the term "cause" can be produced if by "cause" one means to either identify something about physics in what we refer to as the universe or if one means to limit the scope of discussion to physical explanations. As noted by the description of physics provided, anything restricted to the domain of physics would always have a temporal aspect because physics becomes manifest in succession to the Big Bang.

Of course, given such limitations to what it means to be a "cause", the Big Bang itself could not be considered to be an event since all events are regarded (in the service to consistency) to be effects, and the strictly physical domain presumed for causes would seem to also include the presumption that all effects have causes, but the Big Bang - by definition and inasmuch as it needs (again, for the sake of consistency) to be assigned to a domain of non-temporality - cannot be either a cause or even an effect.

So, the Big Bang is not an event. It is not a cause. It is not an effect. Then what is it? Are we to say nothing other than that the Big Bang is the Big Bang? It just is, or maybe it just was? Since the Big Bang is not claimed to be not-a-thing (nothing), then is it not true to say of the Big Bang that it is uncaused? Do the limitations applied above to the term "cause" necessarily prohibit assignment of the descriptor "uncaused" (or "non-cause") to anything non-temporal? And, if we can detect the Big Bang from within the temporal dimension, is it quite correct to insist that there is absolutely nothing temporal about the Big Bang even if that temporal aspect is only the effect we refer to as the universe? Is there something necessarily wrong about regarding temporality as an effect of the Big Bang?

According to Koons's Axiom 6 and Axiom 7:

Koons, p. 5 a cause must not overlap its effect. It is very important to bear in mind that Axiom 6 does not require that a cause must not overlap its effect in space or time: it is only mereological overlap (the having of a common part) that is ruled out. Axiom 7 expresses the universality of the causal relation: every wholly contingent fact has a cause.

It does not appear that the Big Bang overlaps or has a common part with the universe. Furthermore, the above physics-delimitation does not seem to contradict application of the claim for contingency to what we refer to as the universe. Therefore, it is not immediately apparent that the physics-delimitation is necessary for a sensible use of the term "cause".

Koons goes on to say that:

Koons, p. 5 Axiom 7 does not entail determinism, in any of its usual senses, since [he has not] stated that causes are sufficient conditions for their effects. [And he is] not assuming that every event is necessitated by its causes.

If a cause is not necessarily sufficient for its effects, it could be that in nearly all cases there are causes rather than a single cause (possibly indicating that the only situation in which there is a single cause is in the case of the first cause, if there is or has been such a thing), but this too comports with the physics-delimitation for the term "cause".

This takes us to Koons's next step which is establishing the reasonableness of there being a first cause. Given that what we refer to as the universe is a collection of contingencies, and given that everything which is contingent can be said to have a cause (or to have been caused), then either there is an infinite regress of contingent causes, or there is/was a necessary (as opposed to contingent) first cause. Koons's argument does not expressly present the possibility of infinite regress, but that is because with his Axiom 7 he effectively defines contingency in terms of having been caused so that his Axiom 6 then locates (or posits) a non-contingent -- a necessary -- cause as being outside (or other than) the collection of all contingencies (a collection which would include what we refer to as the universe).

This outside-the-universe location (so to speak) happens to be precisely where the physics-delimited sense of "cause" places the Big Bang. The physics-delimited approach has to, for the sake of descriptive consistency, regard the Big Bang as a non-event, but, surely, those who promote the physics-delimitation for "cause" would not be averse to regarding the Big Bang as a "fact". And it just so happens that it is an other-than-the-universe "fact" that Koons identifies as being non-contingent or necessary.

Now, it may well be that we are in no way bettered by having a fact called a first cause, but it does appear at first blush that the modal logic employed by Koons with regards to causes does provide for a fuller - and, in a way, a more consistent - description than that provided by the physics-delimiting approach if only because something such as the Big Bang does not have to be referred to as a non-event when it fits so well with our ordinary sense of what it is to seem like an "event".

This in itself, and as Koons acknowledges, does next to nothing to necessitate using the term "God" when referring to the necessary fact also dubbed the "first cause". This does still leave the possibility of the physics-delimited sense of "cause", but that possibility would seem to some extent to require (for the sake of consistency and coherence) holding to the notion that modal logic is not necessary to the science we call physics, and that just seems like a wholly unnecessary position to take.

Perhaps the lack of an causal or physical explanation here opens the door for a theistic or personal explanation, but I don't believe that such explanations have any causal justification.

Koons provides (and I am still assuming his argument is actually successful) a logical rather than a causal justification, and he seemingly does this without having to posit the strictly physical context which has a greater problem accommodating the indeterminateness necessary for there to be actual human choice.

Michael

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It is probably likely that an extremely consistent usage for the term "cause" can be produced if by "cause" one means to either identify something about physics in what we refer to as the universe or if one means to limit the scope of discussion to physical explanations. As noted by the description of physics provided, anything restricted to the domain of physics would always have a temporal aspect because physics becomes manifest in succession to the Big Bang.

What is basic to my view is that without motion (i.e., time) nothing can cause anything else to occur. "Cause," in its normal usage, is (necessarily, logically) a temporal concept. I don't think I am applying "limitations to what it means to be a "cause"." Instead, I believe the limitations are built into the meaning and normal (spatio-temporal) use of the term. However, I could be persuaded by an example of an atemporal cause, if you have one.

Of course, given such limitations to what it means to be a "cause", the Big Bang itself could not be considered to be an event since all events are regarded (in the service to consistency) to be effects, and the strictly physical domain presumed for causes would seem to also include the presumption that all effects have causes, but the Big Bang - by definition and inasmuch as it needs (again, for the sake of consistency) to be assigned to a domain of non-temporality - cannot be either a cause or even an effect.

Firstly, I'm unsure why all events must be considered as effects. Does this mean that there are no causes other than a first cause? Quantum explanations aside, I presume such a view must strongly entail determinism. Secondly, I'm unclear on why the Big Bang must be "assigned to a domain of non-temporality". I find it unproblematic to say that the uncaused Big Bang is an event and is the cause of all we see after (or is equivalent to) t>0. What I was mainly arguing for in my previous post was that the Big Bang could not be the effect of any prior cause, given that there is nothing (no time) prior to the Big Bang in which its cause can occur.

Anyway, to restate your concern here: If we define an event as one which only occurs within space-time, and which has a preceding cause (and a successive effect), then the Big Bang cannot count as an event, since it has no cause (given that there is no time preceding the Big Bang in which the cause of the Big Bang can occur). That is, without a cause, we cannot consider the Big Bang an event like all other events, since all other events do have causes. But then, isn't this just the problem? The Big Bang cannot count as an event because it doesn't meet the criteria of all other events - all of which occur within space-time and have physical, spatio-temporal causes. That is to say: these problems arise from bringing our temporal-based concepts to bear on the limits of time and the atemporal.

It does not appear that the Big Bang overlaps or has a common part with the universe. Furthermore, the above physics-delimitation does not seem to contradict application of the claim for contingency to what we refer to as the universe. Therefore, it is not immediately apparent that the physics-delimitation is necessary for a sensible use of the term "cause".

As stated, I consider the Big Bang to be temporal. I consider the Big Bang contingent and am not attempting to make it into a necessary first cause like the Cosmological Argument attempts to do for God. (In fact, I'm unclear on what it means for an event to be necessary. Therefore, without a sensible contrast for comparison, I'm unclear on what it means for an event to be contingent, too.) Furthermore, I don't follow your argument which appears to allow for atemporal causes.

If a cause is not necessarily sufficient for its effects, it could be that in nearly all cases there are causes rather than a single cause (possibly indicating that the only situation in which there is a single cause is in the case of the first cause, if there is or has been such a thing)

Agreed. This lack of a singular cause is a major reason for the assertion of my last post that there can be no cause to speak of at the Big Bang.

Given that what we refer to as the universe is a collection of contingencies, and given that everything which is contingent can be said to have a cause (or to have been caused), then either there is an infinite regress of contingent causes, or there is/was a necessary (as opposed to contingent) first cause.

Forgive my lack of philosophical and theological knowledge, but I don't follow why the first cause could not be contingent, or why it must be necessary.

Luke.

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I'm unclear on why the Big Bang must be "assigned to a domain of non-temporality" [...] I consider the Big Bang to be temporal.

The assignment to non-temporality was based upon the citation you provided:

[...] the Big Bang is not an event at all. An event takes place within a space-time context. But the Big Bang has no space-time context [...'] the Big Bang cannot be considered as a physical event occurring at a moment of time.

Instead of "non-temporality", the Big Bang could just as well be described as occurring without space-time. Hence, the "must" in the assigning of the Big Bang to non-temporality was for the sake of consistency given the other descriptions/definitions, and you acknowledged as much when you said:

If we define an event as one which only occurs within space-time, and which has a preceding cause (and a successive effect), then the Big Bang cannot count as an event, since it has no cause (given that there is no time preceding the Big Bang in which the cause of the Big Bang can occur). That is, without a cause, we cannot consider the Big Bang an event like all other events, since all other events do have causes.

What I was trying to do in my previous posting was highlight what seem to be rather close similarities between the Big Bang way of speaking and Koons's way of speaking in terms of a "necessary First Cause". Essentially the same similarities exist if we forego the cited Stanford Encyclopedia way of speaking and, instead, work with your preferred manner of description:

I find it unproblematic to say that the uncaused Big Bang is an event and is the cause of all we see after (or is equivalent to) t>0. What I was mainly arguing for in my previous post was that the Big Bang could not be the effect of any prior cause, given that there is nothing (no time) prior to the Big Bang in which its cause can occur.

This, of course, is just a description of a first cause. The Big Bang is regarded as something (whether an event or not) which causes or results in the effect which is the space-time context referred to as the universe, but the Big Bang itself is not caused. And, it does not at all matter if the reason for saying that the Big Bang is not itself caused is simply that causes require a space-time context such as the universe in order to be causes and there was no such context for the Big Bang. It does not matter, because the parallel with the Koons argument is this: In the case of the Big Bang manner of speech, there is the space-time context and there is something not within that context which causes that context; in the Koons way of speaking, there is an "aggregate of all wholly contingent facts" (effectively the space-time context, conceivably even all possible such contexts that there might have been) which is caused by something not within the context of that "aggregate".

According to Koons, "the cosmos contains every wholly contingent fact as a part"; so, in order to test how well the Big Bang way of speaking and the Koons way of speaking track one another, it makes sense to take up the following:

I consider the Big Bang contingent and am not attempting to make it into a necessary first cause like the Cosmological Argument attempts to do for God. (In fact, I'm unclear on what it means for an event to be necessary. Therefore, without a sensible contrast for comparison, I'm unclear on what it means for an event to be contingent, too.) ... I don't follow why the first cause could not be contingent, or why it must be necessary.

The first important similarity between the Big Bang and Koons's First Cause -- even if the Big Bang is contingent -- would be the fact that both ways of speaking make reference to a cause that is not wholly within (if it is at all within) the space-time context. The second similarity of note is that with the Big Bang, which is put forth as not being an effect, there is what is effectively an uncaused cause -- even if one were to deny that the Big Bang is technically a cause (such as via a definition of cause that required a space-time context).

This then leaves the matter of whether the Big Bang has to be Koons's "necessary First Cause". If the Big Bang is actually contingent, if the Big Bang could have been otherwise, that holds no force against Koons simply because what Koons is ultimately investigating is the nature of the relationship between necessity and contingency.

The very notion of contingent relates to there being a reason for one actuality rather than some other, and in common parlance this reason is associated with the concept called cause. Koons's position is that the cosmos is an aggregate of contingencies (a position with which you seem to agree) and, therefore, it is an aggregate of causes (a position with which you might well agree). According to Koons's way of thinking, if the Big Bang is a contingency, then the Big Bang is within the aggregate of contingencies since, again according to Koons's way of thinking, if the Big Bang could have been otherwise, then there is a reason (or cause) why it is not otherwise, in which case, Koons could say that the cosmos is not just the space-time context but also the Big Bang inasmuch as the cosmos is understood as "contain[ing] every wholly contingent fact as a part".

If that which is not contingent is necessary, and if everything which is contingent is caused, and if the cosmos is the aggregate of all contingencies, then the cause of that aggregation which is a contingency is both not within the aggregation and is not contingent (otherwise it would be within the aggregation); that cause, that first cause, is therefore necessary.

A familiar objection to First Cause arguments is that a first cause of the cosmos from other than within the cosmos is itself conceivably contingent (leading to infinite regress), but here Koons relies on his distinction between facts and propositions, and we can work at deciphering that if it is of interest. But, given the similarities between the Big Bang way of speaking and Koons's First Cause way of speaking and realizing that the Cosmological Argument in itself does not prove or identify (certainly according to Koons) a First Cause, the thing to note is that there really is not anything generally unreasonable about speaking in terms of a first cause. I find that Big Bang talk and First Cause talk are extensively similar, and, I am inclined to add, neither seems critically important except as attempts at disciplining thought and expression with the hope that such exercises might eventually lead to something more important and interesting.

Michael

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It strikes me that these arguments for gods existence pretty much always require the presupposition of gods existence, in order to be convincing. That is, as distinguished from valid, sound, etc on its own merits.

This is a particularly noteworthy case of that. The logical/philosophical focus is almost always on the question of whether the argument is any good, but tends to ignore, or place secondary importance on the subsequent leap, from the conclusion of the actual argument to the establishment of god.

Consider the actual conclusion, which we must accept if (hypothetically) all the debate boils down to acceptance that the argument is valid and sound. That conclusion is basically "there existed a first cause that began the universe", or some variant thereof. What is usually missing, to my mind, is an argument that establishes that that first cause must be "god", a godlike being, or a being of any kind at all.

Still worse, and most symptomatic of the problem I'm taking issue with, is that even if we were to establish that a godlike being is indeed that cause which we have established must have existed, there is not, and to my mind can not be any way to establish that the nature of this godlike being is identifiable with any 'god' imagined by any man. I say can not be, because there is never a good way to distinguish between the workings of the many gods that people have invented here on the good old earth.

But this is not really a problem for those wishing to use this argument to support their belief, or more accurately, it ought to be but is rarely considered. This is, I suggest, because the existence of whatever god the person in question is attempting to support with logic, is already accepted axiomatically by that person. To them, it is good enough to demonstrate the necessity of god-like activity, because it is OBVIOUS that any god-like activity is being performed by the god that they already know exists.

But to an outsider with no such a-priori commitment, the gap between god-like activity and the establishment of a god-like being that cares about, or is even is aware of humanity, let alone is identifiable with any particular idea of god or gods, is sufficient to render the argument empty. I think the same issue applies to the other two of the 'big three', in particular the ontological.

Edited by Timothy

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The Big Bang is regarded as something (whether an event or not) which causes or results in the effect which is the space-time context referred to as the universe, but the Big Bang itself is not caused. And, it does not at all matter if the reason for saying that the Big Bang is not itself caused is simply that causes require a space-time context such as the universe in order to be causes and there was no such context for the Big Bang. It does not matter, because the parallel with the Koons argument is this: In the case of the Big Bang manner of speech, there is the space-time context and there is something not within that context which causes that context; in the Koons way of speaking, there is an "aggregate of all wholly contingent facts" (effectively the space-time context, conceivably even all possible such contexts that there might have been) which is caused by something not within the context of that "aggregate".

If the Big Bang is simultaneous with the beginning of time, then in what sense is the Big Bang outside of the space-time context? If the Big Bang is entirely within the space-time context - only occurring where there exists space and time - then I fail to see what part of the Big Bang is outside of the space-time context. You appeared willing to accept my "manner of description" that the uncaused Big Bang is both an event and a cause, although not an effect, and I believe this is consistent with the view that the Big Bang is entirely temporal. Therefore, I don't see there as being "something not within that context which causes that context," since I believe that the Big Bang, and all other temporal events, are within the space-time context. However, I think there is a natural expectation or desire for there to be a cause of the Big Bang; for the Big Bang to be the effect of some prior - perhaps first - cause.

I think my view of a purely temporal Big Bang may also prevent the Big Bang from its status of being a necessary first cause, but I think this is a good thing, since this status appears to limit the possibilities available under modal logic. If the Big Bang is temporal and there also does exist a necessary first cause preceding and causing the Big Bang, then this atemporal cause allows for many more possibilities than if the Big Bang were the first cause, at least insofar as it admits of atemporal causes and explanations; not to mention the different beginnings a universe (or whatever you would call it) might take without our Big Bang as its origin. And if there can be possibilities available outside of a space-time context, then the Big Bang may have been the effect of some atemporal cause. It seems reasonable to question how such a large explosion (bang), in concert with space and time, could come from nothing at all. But again, we might here be implicitly defining "nothing" as no more than lying outside of a space-time context.

If the Big Bang is actually contingent, if the Big Bang could have been otherwise, that holds no force against Koons simply because what Koons is ultimately investigating is the nature of the relationship between necessity and contingency.

This is what I am also hoping to investigate.

If that which is not contingent is necessary, and if everything which is contingent is caused, and if the cosmos is the aggregate of all contingencies, then the cause of that aggregation which is a contingency is both not within the aggregation and is not contingent (otherwise it would be within the aggregation); that cause, that first cause, is therefore necessary.

What I gather from your comments is that a contingent event both (i) has a cause; and (ii) could have turned out some other way. Could it be said that a contingent event could have turned out some other way just because it had a cause? We could equally say that a necessary event is necessary just because it had no cause. But we are just defining/labelling an event as "necessary" if it has no cause. Is this equivalent to the claim that the uncaused first cause is a necessary event? What makes any uncaused event necessary, in the sense that it had to occur, and could not have not occurred? What is it about being "uncaused" which necessitates an event's occurrence, such that it couldn't have turned out any other way?

A familiar objection to First Cause arguments is that a first cause of the cosmos from other than within the cosmos is itself conceivably contingent (leading to infinite regress), but here Koons relies on his distinction between facts and propositions[/i'], and we can work at deciphering that if it is of interest.

Yes, I am most interested in deciphering that. I will need to re-read the paper to see where he covers this.

Some miscellaneous thoughts:

If we accept that there is a "first cause" then this causal event is necessary in at least this one sense: if there is more than one cause, then there must be (an ordinal) first of these causes (i.e., the necessity lies in '1' being the first integer; which it obviously is, by definition). Maybe we can then say: the "first" is necessary, but the "cause" is not.

While necessity accompanies the assumption of a "first cause" event, I don't see it as logically necessary that there must be a first cause event. What problems are to be found in a view that rejects the necessity of any event and which embraces the contingency and infinite regress of all events, instead?

Luke.

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You appeared willing to accept my "manner of description" that the uncaused Big Bang is both an event and a cause, although not an effect ...

A thing or event (including the Big Bang) which is itself a cause while not itself being an effect would be a thing or event that is perfectly compatible with the description of this thing or event as an uncaused cause. If this uncaused cause is a necessary thing or event, then this thing or event can be the first cause, and/or if there is only one such uncaused cause, then it is the first cause. If the so-called uncaused cause is necessary but is somehow not the one and only such uncaused cause, then there is the possibility that such an uncaused cause (or each such uncaused cause) is constituent of what might still be referred to as the first cause.

and I believe this is consistent with the view that the Big Bang is entirely temporal ... I think my view of a purely temporal Big Bang may also prevent the Big Bang from its status of being a necessary first cause ...

Let us say that "the Big Bang is entirely temporal." Let us for now say that "Big Bang" refers to a single uncaused cause regardless of whether this single uncaused cause is constituted of multiple uncaused causes. Temporality in and of itself does not negate the possibility that this Big Bang is necessary. Quite clearly, this brings us to the matter of what it might mean for such an event or thing to be necessary.

but I think this is a good thing, since this status appears to limit the possibilities available under modal logic.

I suspect that a (if not the) purpose of Koons's reliance upon "facts" as concrete things as distinguished from concepts is intended to accomplish a similar limiting of "the possibilities available under modal logic." Alternatively, this reliance upon "facts" may only serve to explain what it means for something other than a concept to be necessary, and this would relate to the Bertrand Russell objection cited by Koons which claims that "[t]here is no intelligible form of necessity other than logical truth." So, let us see what sense we can make of the nature of necessity.

What I gather from your comments is that a contingent event both (i) has a cause; and (ii) could have turned out some other way. Could it be said that a contingent event could have turned out some other way just because it had a cause?

According to hard determinism (especially in the form of strict physicalism), there is no effect-event which "could have turned out some other way". As noted here:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy A standard characterization of determinism states that every event is causally necessitated by antecedent events. Within this essay, we shall define determinism as the metaphysical thesis that the facts of the past, in conjunction with the laws of nature, entail every truth about the future. According to this characterization, if determinism is true, then, given the actual past, and holding fixed the laws of nature, only one future is possible at any moment in time.

From this it follows that if this determinism is in fact true, then there really seems to be no reason to speak in terms of contingencies. However, even then a first uncaused cause might still sensibly be referred to as modally necessary.

What makes any uncaused event necessary, in the sense that it had to occur, and could not have not occurred? What is it about being "uncaused" which necessitates an event's occurrence, such that it couldn't have turned out any other way?

Within a hard determinism framework as described immediately above, it still makes sense to refer to anything depicted as the originating first uncaused event as being necessary in the sense that everything else that occurs is, in theory at least, traceable to that event. This means that even if the concept of contingencies is seen as cohering with or being conceptually compatible with hard determinism, the uncaused cause is necessary inasmuch as that event or thing is present in or actual both for all caused events and things as well as for those contingencies which for hard determinism could never be more concrete than mere concepts or imaginings.

The point is that necessary in this sense - in the modal, or non-causal, sense - does not mean "that it had to occur, and could not have not occurred"; instead, necessary indicates nothing other than that there are no events or things or facts which fail to tie back or trace back to that event/thing which was uncaused. Another way of thinking about this is to realize that saying that something is modally necessary is not to say that the modally necessary thing or event was itself necessitated. After all, "necessitated" implies "caused", but the issue at hand is something regarded as being uncaused and, therefore, not-necessitated, yet necessary (in the modal, non-caused sense).

Now, Koons says that "[t]he notion of causation has taken root once again within philosophy, proving to be indispensable", but, to the extent that Koons wants to speak (or at least starts off speaking) about causes as "facts" which are, by his definition, concrete, one matter to consider is whether it is quite so clearly the case that causes are actually concrete. After all, causes do not seem to be things, and it seems a bit of a stretch to say that causes are events. Might it not be most appropriate to regard causes in terms of the concepts which, in a manner of speaking, fill the interstices between things and events so that things and events are linked in an orderly fashion?

This would be tantamount to saying that, instead of speaking in the convenient terms of causation (where causes are effectively supposed as facts), we could speak in terms of affecting factors. This would still leave us with a first unaffected thing or event, the one otherwise referred to as the uncaused cause, and that thing or event would still be (modally or non-causally) necessary; it might even make the meaning of this sense of "necessary" more clear inasmuch as there would be no (or less) confusion with things or events spoken of as being necessitated.

Regardless, even if the Big Bang is regarded as being fully within temporality or as being "entirely temporal", as either an uncaused cause or as an unaffected event, the Big Bang seems to qualify as a modal necessity condition and, therefore, the Big Bang way of speaking remains compatible with a sizable portion of Koons's argument even if the Big Bang limitation would itself direct Koons towards a more panentheistic (or, possibly, pantheistic) course.

Michael

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My first impression: Is the first cause necessary for all universes? If the first cause can differ among universes, then is it a necessary contingency? That is, are there two senses of necessity at play here? A first cause is necessary for any possible universe (including the actual) to come into existence, but its only necessity is in tracing all the universe's events back to a single, first cause event. It is necessary in being an origin, but the type of origin (the type of first cause) is not necessary. There is no singular first cause that all possible universes share, and so the first cause is not a necessary occurrence in every possible universe. But if X doesn't hold in all possible universes, then it's not necessary.

A thing or event (including the Big Bang) which is itself a cause while not itself being an effect would be a thing or event that is perfectly compatible with the description of this thing or event as an uncaused cause. If this uncaused cause is a necessary thing or event, then this thing or event can be the first cause, and/or if there is only one such uncaused cause, then it is the first cause. If the so-called uncaused cause is necessary but is somehow not the one and only such uncaused cause, then there is the possibility that such an uncaused cause (or each such uncaused cause) is constituent of what might still be referred to as the first cause.

If, as you say, "necessary indicates nothing other than that there are no events or things or facts which fail to tie back or trace back to that event/thing which was uncaused," then I think our conversation to have served its purpose, and I thank you for teaching me this.

However, I think there are good reasons for believing not only that contingent events are caused, but also that they could have turned out some other way. (This leaves necessary events as being uncaused and as having no possibility to have turned out any other way.)

Although I didn't include the quote in my last post, I mainly took this second criterion of a contingent event ('could have turned out some other way') from your penultimate post where you said:

The very notion of contingent relates to there being a reason for one actuality rather than some other, and in common parlance this reason is associated with the concept called cause[/i'].

I also took as evidence for this second criterion my limited knowledge of 'necessity' and 'contingency' as used regarding, as Russell puts it, "logical truth":

Modal Logic: "If a statement is true in all possible worlds, then it is a necessary truth. If a statement happens to be true in our world, but is not true in all possible worlds, then it is a contingent truth."

I think we can make an analogy and re-write the above in terms of necessary and contingent events instead of truths. I think Koons says something to the effect that facts are what make propositions true. And it seems reasonable to claim that facts are equivalent to the occurrence of events, or that the occurrence of events is the occurrence of facts. Therefore, for the analogy to "logical truth" to hold, we need only replace "truth" with "event" and say:

If an event occurs in all possible worlds then it is a necessary event. If an event happens to occur in our world, but not in all possible worlds, then it is a contingent event.

This appears similar to saying, or - with its intimate ties to possibility - appears to be generally used to make the claim that, a contingent event 'could have turned out some other way'; that there is another possible world in which things turned out differently.

If, however, I am misusing the concept of 'necessity' by conflating it with my second criterion, then is there a difference between the definitions of "necessity" and "contingency" when applied to true statements, compared with when those same concepts are applied to events?

Temporality in and of itself does not negate the possibility that this Big Bang is necessary. Quite clearly, this brings us to the matter of what it might mean for such an event or thing to be necessary.

If a necessary event is defined as no more than being uncaused, I would agree that the Big Bang is necessary. However, if necessity also entails the second criterion, then the Big Bang's inclusion in the space-time context suggests that it could have turned out differently. Koons states: "I would go so far at so say that every physical fact is contingent." He also says: "A contingent fact is one that is actual but could have been non-actual, where the relevant notion of possibility is that of broadly metaphysical possibility."

According to hard determinism (especially in the form of strict physicalism), there is no effect-event which "could have turned out some other way".

I'm happy to follow Koons here, where he says:

Koons' paperIf we deny that there are any contingent facts, then we must conclude that we live in a world in which all three modalities - possibility, actuality, and necessity - collapse together. This is tantamount to denying that these modalities can do any interesting work. Such a denial runs athwart the growing body of philosophical work in which modality plays a central role.

This seems to be where we wind up, where, as you say: "there really seems to be no reason to speak in terms of contingencies." There's no reason to talk about contingencies, and so the modality of possibility, especially, cannot do any interesting work. I'd prefer to ignore the problems associated with hard determinism for now, and maintain talk about possibility and contingency.

Another way of thinking about this is to realize that saying that something is modally necessary is not to say that the modally necessary thing or event was itself necessitated. After all, "necessitated" implies "caused", but the issue at hand is something regarded as being uncaused and, therefore, not-necessitated, yet necessary (in the modal, non-caused sense).

I did not mean to imply this in the quote you've responded to here. 'After all, "necessitated" implies "caused",' suggests that a necessary event must have a cause, which is the opposite of its definition. What I was questioning was why an uncaused event is defined as necessary. What makes it necessary? Or, is that just how it's defined? Am I confused with my inclusion of the second criterion in my understanding of a necessary event, or does this point to a difference in the definition of these terms when applied to facts and to propositions?

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My first impression: Is the first cause necessary for all universes? If the first cause can differ among universes, then is it a necessary contingency? That is, are there two senses of necessity at play here? A first cause is necessary for any possible universe (including the actual) to come into existence, but its only necessity is in tracing all the universe's events back to a single, first cause event. It is necessary in being an origin, but the type of origin (the type of first cause) is not necessary. There is no singular first cause that all possible universes share, and so the first cause is not a necessary occurrence in every possible universe. But if X doesn't hold in all possible universes, then it's not necessary.

With regards to the matter of "all universes", let us first deal with your inclusion of the uncaused Big Bang fully within temporality. At first blush, such a condition seems to preclude other universes that are utterly disjointed from this one inasmuch as those universes would be outside the space-time context. If there is such a condition as outside the space-time context referred to commonly as our universe, then this brings back into question the basis for the assertion that the Big Bang is itself uncaused within a context that exceeds the confines of our space-time. Nonetheless, were it the case that the Big Bang were uncaused and not itself common to "all universes", then the Big Bang would not be necessary despite being uncaused; therefore, in order for some event to be not "a" but, rather, "the" first cause or the cause of all possible contingent causes, that event must not only be uncaused but also linked to or traceable from all contingencies.

Moving beyond the Big Bang issue, let us now consider the issue pertaining to "all possible universes" and whether there is a "singular first cause" for all these universes. Here I expect that Koons would rely upon "facts" to define "possible" in order to distinguish "possible" from "conceivable". If causes are facts but other universes are merely conceivable (meaning regardable as possibilities that are not alternatives derived from previous actual causal conditions), then Koons's argument for a necessary cause still seems to succeed in terms of "facts".

I think there are good reasons for believing not only that contingent events are caused, but also that they could have turned out some other way.

I would state this more conservatively by simply claiming that at least some contingent events could have turned out some other way, but I certainly agree that not everything that occurs is always necessitated to occur as it does.

This leaves necessary events as being uncaused and as having no possibility to have turned out any other way.

This, of course, depends on how the necessary event gets limited, descriptively for instance. One may well have to locate the limit of a necessary event, one which is uncaused and/or unaffected at the manifestation of anything that is contingent. Once this is done, then the necessary event is uncaused, unaffected, and without alternative; this necessary event becomes the first fact, the fact which causes all else that is neither uncaused, unaffected, and without alternatives.

If a necessary event is defined as no more than being uncaused, I would agree that the Big Bang is necessary. However, if necessity also entails the second criterion [as Russell puts it, "logical truth"], then the Big Bang's inclusion in the space-time context suggests that it could have turned out differently. Koons states: "I would go so far at so say that every physical fact is contingent."

As indicated above, this is a juncture at which Koons could push for a distinction between "conceivable" and "possible" based on the notion of (as he says - empirical) "facts" as "what make propositions [actually] true". Koons regards the Big Bang as a physical fact; therefore, of course, he considers the Big Bang to be contingent rather than uncaused. As I indicated previously, this affects where he would locate the first cause, and that affects what possibilities (or conceivabilities) remain open to him regarding what he would ultimately refer to as "God". As unappealing or unsatisfying as his God-project might, for whatever reason, be, it does not seem that it is the notion of a necessary first cause which is wholly beyond rational acceptability, and that, I think, is all that the Cosmological Argument in and of itself (and certainly as Koons seems to use it) seeks to establish.

Michael

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With regards to the matter of "all universes", let us first deal with your inclusion of the uncaused Big Bang fully within temporality. At first blush, such a condition seems to preclude other universes that are utterly disjointed from this one inasmuch as those universes would be outside the space-time context. If there is such a condition as outside the space-time context referred to commonly as our universe, then this brings back into question the basis for the assertion that the Big Bang is itself uncaused within a context that exceeds the confines of our space-time.

I don't follow how the second sentence leads to the third here. If a temporal Big Bang precludes an "outside the space-time context," then the condition of "outside the space-time context" is precluded, rather than brought back into question.

Nonetheless, were it the case that the Big Bang were uncaused and not itself common to "all universes", then the Big Bang would not be necessary despite being uncaused; therefore, in order for some event to be not "a" but, rather, "the" first cause or the cause of all possible contingent causes, that event must not only be uncaused but also linked to or traceable from all contingencies.

I am happy to "move beyond" the question of when and where the Big Bang is situated. We could simplify the issue by speaking only in terms of contingent and necessary events, as Koons does. I am happy to "limit" the necessary as you have done here: "the necessary event is uncaused, unaffected, and without alternative; this necessary event becomes the first fact, the fact which causes all else that is neither uncaused, unaffected, and without alternatives."

One may well have to locate the limit of a necessary event, one which is uncaused and/or unaffected at the manifestation of anything that is contingent.

This appears to be in accordance with Koons' view, where he says: "the cosmological argument depends on only one factual premise: that there exists a contingent fact." I take this to mean that "necessary" gets defined via the definition of "contingent", as the negation of the definition of "contingent"; as whatever a contingent event is not. "Necessary" is delimited by the opposing, mutually exclusive definition of "contingent".

I would state this more conservatively by simply claiming that at least some contingent events could have turned out some other way, but I certainly agree that not everything that occurs is always necessitated to occur as it does.

This more conservative claim seems betrayed by your definition that follows, where a contingent event is "neither uncaused, unaffected, and without alternatives." This latter definition seems to be a restatement of my original definition, from which you drew this more conservative claim. Nevertheless, as stated, I am happy to agree to your limiting of the terms in the latter definition.

Moving beyond the Big Bang issue, let us now consider the issue pertaining to "all possible universes" and whether there is a "singular first cause" for all these universes. Here I expect that Koons would rely upon "facts" to define "possible" in order to distinguish "possible" from "conceivable". If causes are facts but other universes are merely conceivable (meaning regardable as possibilities that are not alternatives derived from previous actual[/i'] causal conditions), then Koons's argument for a necessary cause still seems to succeed in terms of "facts".

I'm unclear on the need for this distinction between "possible" and "conceivable". You define "conceivable" as: "regardable as possibilities that are not alternatives derived from previous actual causal conditions." Which, I presume, leaves "possible" to mean: regardable as possibilities that are alternatives derived from previous actual causal conditions. But I take this to be a very narrow definition of "possible". This is as if to say that what is possible (in the future) is only what has previously occurred.

However, I take you to imply that an atemporal cause is conceivable, even though it may be physically impossible. I don't believe it possible for something to cause the space-time context to exist, at least in the sense of "cause" defined, as it is, within a space-time context. Although it may be possible to conceive of something outside of a space-time context (I remain sceptical that such a conception could be clearly expressed in language), I don't see any place for this conceivable extra-space-time "something" to be the cause of space-time.

As unappealing or unsatisfying as his God-project might, for whatever reason, be, it does not seem that it is the notion of a necessary first cause which is wholly beyond rational acceptability, and that, I think, is all that the Cosmological Argument in and of itself (and certainly as Koons seems to use it) seeks to establish.

Firstly, to clarify, my second criterion was that as given in my earlier post: "a contingent event both (i) has a cause; and (ii) could have turned out some other way". That is, the second criterion specifically is that an event "could have turned out some other way," rather than being the "logical truth" of Russell. You express this criterion yourself as an event's not being "without alternative" (i.e., an event's being "with alternative").

I indicated in my previous post that the two criterion, "(i) has a cause; and (ii) could have turned out some other way," may be in conflict with each other when considering the first cause. More specifically, that the antithesis of these criteria - the definition of a necessary event - may be a problem. However, I think the Big Bang discussion may have clouded the issue for me.

Being "uncaused" and "without alternative," the putative necessary event can only exist outside of (and distinct from) a space-time context. Our starting point, a contingent fact, can be traced back to some original fact, which - distinguishing itself from all contingent facts by instead being uncaused and without alternative - can be referred to, due to its mutual exclusion with contingent facts, as a necessary fact.

Although I have no conscious prejudice against religion, I still find it "wholly beyond rational acceptability" that a cause can exist outside of (or can precede, or can bring about) a space-time context. The first fact must be the existence of the space-time context - the existence of time and motion - before we can meaningfully talk about causes. If something could be said to have "caused" time and motion to exist, then it must be a wholly different type of cause than that with which we are familiar. And so, are we still talking about causes (in the normal sense), or are we now talking about "causes"?

If all causes, but specifically the first cause, can only exist within a space-time context, then this first cause cannot also be the event which brings about the space-time context, since it must occur within that context. (Here, I'm referring to the first cause as the ordinal first to occur within a space-time context, but this is not the "first cause" under discussion.)

I think much of the problem in discussing the Big Bang has been where to delimit it. It could be considered the start of our universe, or as the entire space-time context, including our present time and the remaining future (t>0). If the Big Bang is the entire "event" of the four-dimensionalist's block-time, or perhaps as Koons' set of all contingent events, C, then the first cause must lie outside this context to bring it about. I don't see that causes, as we know them, can exist outside of such a context.

However, it's not inconceivable that God has His own atemporal way(s) of causing a space-time context to exist. It is, however, inconceivable as to what those atemporal ways are.

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With regards to the matter of "all universes", let us first deal with your inclusion of the uncaused Big Bang fully within temporality. At first blush, such a condition seems to preclude other universes that are utterly disjointed from this one inasmuch as those universes would be outside the space-time context. If there is such a condition as outside the space-time context referred to commonly as our universe, then this brings back into question the basis for the assertion that the Big Bang is itself uncaused within a context that exceeds the confines of our space-time.

I don't follow how the second sentence leads to the third here. If a temporal Big Bang precludes an "outside the space-time context," then the condition of "outside the space-time context" is precluded, rather than brought back into question.

Where are these other universes? If they were wholly within this one, then they would be constituents of this universe. If these other universes are (let us say) partly within this one, if they communicate in any way with this one (such as would justify our reference to these other universes in terms of "facts" rather than as mere imaginings), then we have a fact basis for a context that is not identical to this space-time context but which includes this space-time context as well as other universes. Since, in the terms of this discussion, communication or links between context are causal or affective, then we are no longer speaking in terms of our space-time context as unaffected by contexts beyond our own. This larger context reopens causal possibilities other than those which we trace back only so far as the Big Bang. Admitting of something beyond our space-time context which is not caused (even if it is affected) by our space-time context, and which affects our space-time (hence our fact-basis for positing this outside context) despite this other context being inaccessible beyond what we take to be its effects upon our space-time context, invigorates the possibility of the Big Bang as an effect rather than as a first cause even if everything within our space-time context is still traceable to the Big Bang.

We could simplify the issue by speaking only in terms of contingent and necessary events, as Koons does. I am happy to "limit" the necessary as you have done here: "the necessary event is uncaused, unaffected, and without alternative; this necessary event becomes the first fact, the fact which causes all else that is neither uncaused, unaffected, and without alternatives."

Just to tie this in to the part above, which is to say in terms of contexts, by this understanding of necessary, if there are other universes which affect our space-time context, but those universes are such that all of their events are not traceable to our Big Bang, then the Big Bang is not a necessary event in that larger context.

This appears to be in accordance with Koons' view, where he says: "the cosmological argument depends on only one factual premise: that there exists a contingent fact." I take this to mean that "necessary" gets defined via the definition of "contingent", as the negation of the definition of "contingent"; as whatever a contingent event is not. "Necessary" is delimited by the opposing, mutually exclusive definition of "contingent".

I do not think that necessary has to be defined in terms of contingent; what Koons seems to be saying is that, given the fact of there being even a single contingent thing, this contingent fact is the basis for arguing that there is something necessary. In other words, he thinks that contingency is evidence for there being necessity, but that does not mean that necessity has to be defined in terms of contingency. In terms of the above definition of necessary event with which we are currently working, the only part that entails contingency at all is that having to do with "alternatives", but I think we have that there just to deal with the fact that we know we are working in a context concerned with contingency. Even if we left that part off so that we have an event that is both uncaused and unaffected, my first impression is that we still have a necessary event.

This more conservative claim seems betrayed by your definition that follows, where a contingent event is "neither uncaused, unaffected, and without alternatives." This latter definition seems to be a restatement of my original definition, from which you drew this more conservative claim.

I guess we could leave it at "a contingent event is an event which is neither uncaused nor unaffected", because that would cover human agency as well (where this agency is arguably a proximal cause in itself albeit one affected by the local context as relates to the agent's perceptions), and that would still cover non-agent events which might arguably have no immediately proximal alternatives.

But I take this to be a very narrow definition of "possible". This is as if to say that what is possible (in the future) is only what has previously occurred.

I agree that this is a rather narrow way of thinking about possibilities, but I think it reflects Koons's approach. After all, he says he is starting from "facts" (hence what is taken to be actual), and this means that the most fair responses to Koons will at least initially take this same mantle upon themselves. Far more possibilities can be conceived when there is less concern with relating to actuality. Nonetheless, this restricted scope for possibilities does not even come close to saying "that what is possible (in the future) is only what has previously occurred." All it says is that the possibilities for the future are limited by what is or has been actual.

However, it's not inconceivable that God has His own atemporal way(s) of causing a space-time context to exist. It is, however, inconceivable as to what those atemporal ways are.

Probably so, and that would go a long way towards explaining why the Cosmological Argument is not even especially interesting -- maybe not even especially relevant, certainly in and of itself.

Michael

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Quick thought. What happens to this argument if we suppose that uncaused causes are not only possible but fairly common?

See, I'm aware that that's been proposed in quantum mechanics, with particles popping in and out of existence apparently uncaused. I ain't sure of that ideas current status but the very possibility seems to be fatal for the idea that some big godly unmoved mover is necessary.

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Quick thought. What happens to this argument if we suppose that uncaused causes are not only possible but fairly common?

See, I'm aware that that's been proposed in quantum mechanics, with particles popping in and out of existence apparently uncaused. I ain't sure of that ideas current status but the very possibility seems to be fatal for the idea that some big godly unmoved mover is necessary.

I do not think that the actuality of multiple uncaused causes (as sketched above) is itself a condition sufficient to dispense with the necessity under discussion in this thread.

Let us say we do observe some occurrence which is (at least for some while) utterly unaffected by and unaffecting of the space-time context in which we observe the occurrence. Such a description seems in keeping with our working definition of a necessary event as uncaused, unaffected, and without alternative, and we can even posit that this uncaused cause becomes affecting on the extant context. The reason that such an uncaused cause would not itself be necessary rests in the fact that not all effects within the space-time context are traceable back to this uncaused cause. Such a traceability is also a requisite qualification for an event to be necessary.

Whether we speak in terms of an event which is necessary or of a being which is necessary, it is this traceability aspect which transforms (figuratively speaking, of course) an uncaused cause into a necessity. We might also think of this necessity as an uncaused context within which are or occur all other contexts. So, the point is that there can be any number of uncaused causes, but a multiplicity of uncaused causes is not in itself "fatal for the idea" of a necessary context or cause or event or being or, simply, a necessity itself.

Michael

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If I'm understanding you correctly, Michael, it sounds like that while any particular event that doesn't seem to be affected by other phenomena may be classified as "uncaused", the context that we make that judgment within (e.g., spacetime) may be necessary. That way there can be multiple uncaused causes, but one at least retains necessity, if only by virtue that we use it as a background against which to judge the others. Am I anywhere close? :p

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If I'm understanding you correctly, Michael, it sounds like that while any particular event that doesn't seem to be affected by other phenomena may be classified as "uncaused", the context that we make that judgment within (e.g., spacetime) may be necessary. That way there can be multiple uncaused causes, but one at least retains necessity, if only by virtue that we use it as a background against which to judge the others. Am I anywhere close? :p

You are certainly close; indeed, you very close if not right on. When you refer to the "background against which [we] judge", it seems that you might be introducing a perspective which I have been trying to at least minimize as much as I can figure out how to, not because it is in the least bit irrelevant but because to the extent that it is the nature of modal necessity (as distinguished from any necessity of entailment) which is at issue in the Cosmological Argument, then it seems appropriate to try to discuss this necessity as if it is independent of us and our perspectives, including our concepts.

The only other point of possible deviation from what I have written would be in expressing space-time as it actually is in terms of that space-time being necessary in the sense of necessarily being just as it is.

If the Big Bang is within space-time in the way that parsec has put it forth, where the Big Bang is uncaused and unaffected, then this provides for space-time as containing one necessary event, but it is not just the uncaused/unaffected aspect that would make the Big Bang necessary (since, as you noted, it can be allowed for there to be a multiplicity of uncaused/unaffected events). There is also the supposed traceability (through causes and affectings) of all other events to the uncaused/unaffected Big Bang which makes that event necessary or linked to everything else.

I hope that this clarifies or contributes to the other postings in this thread. If not, then that just means there is more that needs discussing. Am I right, or am I right? Heh.

Michael

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Where are these other universes?
I hold a more conservative view than that of David Lewis' modal realism. My view is more closely aligned with that of Saul Kripke as given here:

Wikipedia page on Modal LogicTo maintain that Bigfoot's existence is possible, but not actual, one could say, "There is some possible world in which Bigfoot exists; but in the actual world, Bigfoot does not exist". But it is unclear what it is that making this claim commits us to. Are we really alleging the existence of possible worlds, every bit as real as our actual world, just not actual? Saul Kripke believes that this is a misnomer - that the term 'possible world' is just a useful way of visualizing the concept of possibility. For him, the sentences "you could have rolled a 4 instead of a 6" and "there is a possible world where you rolled a 4, but you rolled a 6 in the actual world" are not significantly different statements.

Therefore, I see no need to posit an outside the spacetime context, and no need to concern ourselves with the (actual) physical logistics of possible worlds.

Just to tie this in to the part above, which is to say in terms of contexts, by this understanding of necessary[/i'], if there are other universes which affect our space-time context, but those universes are such that all of their events are not traceable to our Big Bang, then the Big Bang is not a necessary event in that larger context.

The reason I moved away from the Big Bang issue in my last post was because no matter where the line is drawn on the boundary of the space-time context, the Cosmological Argument asserts that something outside the space-time context necessarily caused that space-time context to exist. If every event within space-time is contingent, and thus caused, then something must have caused the first of these contingent space-time events to occur, along with the space-time context itself. But I'm sure I don't need to repeat my concern for taking causes out of the context.

I do not think that necessary has to be defined in terms of contingent; what Koons seems to be saying is that, given the fact of there being even a single contingent thing, this contingent fact is the basis for arguing that there is something necessary. In other words, he thinks that contingency is evidence for there being necessity, but that does not mean that necessity has to be defined in terms of contingency.

I guess my reasoning here is based on empirical grounds, where we are familiar with caused events, but not uncaused events. The "fact of there being a single contingent thing" is not hard to find, unlike an uncaused fact without alternative. Since we only have evidence of contingent events, and none of necessary events, I think it a requirement for a necessary event to be defined in terms of contingent events.

In terms of the above definition of necessary event with which we are currently working, the only part that entails contingency at all is that having to do with "alternatives", but I think we have that there just to deal with the fact that we know we are working in a context concerned with contingency. Even if we left that part off so that we have an event that is both uncaused and unaffected, my first impression is that we still have a necessary event.

If you left off the part of "alternatives" then all events would be necessary, whether caused or uncaused; it would be a case of hard determinism. So, of course, this makes no difference to an uncaused necessary event. But it does make a difference if you want to be able to continue talking about contingent events, and contrasting them with a necessary event, as is required for this discussion.

Also, I'm not sure what distinction there is to be made between "uncaused" and "unaffected". You appear to endorse John Castillo's assessment that: "any particular event that doesn't seem to be affected by other phenomena may be classified as "uncaused"." This would seem to make the terms synonymous.

Luke.

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Also, I'm not sure what distinction there is to be made between "uncaused" and "unaffected". You appear to endorse John Castillo's assessment that: "any particular event that doesn't seem to be affected by other phenomena may be classified as "uncaused"." This would seem to make the terms synonymous.

The primary purpose for adding "unaffected" to the mix is to be able to provide for the necessity (as per our working definition) even when there are reasons to suspect that there are limits to how precisely we can identify causes, such as whether or when we can reduce a cause to one factor. In discussions about human agency, for example, it is quite common for someone who is thinking predominantly in terms of causes to object to choice (and, as you may recall, when I refer to "choice" I am including an actual contextual indeterminateness) on the basis that choice would have to be an uncaused cause.

The proponent of choice will certainly and readily admit to there being factors that affect any decision we refer to as a choice, and, with a definition of necessity that includes "unaffected" as well as "uncaused", the choice proponent can either deny choice as an uncaused cause as a definitional matter, or that proponent could just as well accept for the sake of argument that choice is an uncaused cause, and we would still be left with the necessity that we have been discussing, since that necessity can accommodate other uncaused causes which themselves would not be necessary inasmuch as they would not satisfy the traceability requirement.

Basically, I also include reference to "unaffected" in an attempt to indicate how it is that the nature of the necessity under discussion does not depend on cause being an utterly coherent and fully precise notion.

I see "uncaused" and "unaffected" as being related without being synonymous. It seems to me that a cause is generally intended to be (or indicate) a more precise or stronger sort of relationship than need be had for an affecting relationship. Reference to a relationship as an affecting relationship essentially does no more than acknowledge a somehow relevant factor (such as context perhaps). I guess you could say that I expand the expressive possibilities so as to make our understanding of a necessity more of a necessity.

Michael

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The proponent of choice[/i'] will certainly and readily admit to there being factors that affect any decision we refer to as a choice, and, with a definition of necessity that includes "unaffected" as well as "uncaused", the choice proponent can either deny choice as an uncaused cause as a definitional matter, or that proponent could just as well accept for the sake of argument that choice is an uncaused cause, and we would still be left with the necessity that we have been discussing, since that necessity can accommodate other uncaused causes which themselves would not be necessary inasmuch as they would not satisfy the traceability requirement.

Firstly, there is still the untackled problem that if we remove "alternatives" as a criterion of contingency/necessity, then all events become necessary by default. In this situation, there is no other possible world in which an alternative event (to the events in our universe) could have transpired, and so all possible worlds would contain the same set of events as our universe, thus making all events necessary.

Secondly, and relatedly, what you refer to as "the traceability requirement" might be described as tracing contingent events back in time until we meet with some non-contingent (or necessary) event, which is posited as the first cause of all the traced contingent events. This requirement finds its form in the criterion of necessity we have labelled as "uncaused", in contrast to the "caused" criterion of contingency. We trace back all the caused, contingent events until we come to an original uncaused, necessary event.

The relation to the first point is that the criterion of "caused" is insufficient to make an event contingent. A contingent event must also satisfy the criterion of having possible "alternatives". Without possible alternatives, a caused event remains necessary. (I'm trying not to lose the concept of "contingency" in this discussion! The traceability requirement greatly depends upon it.)

Thirdly, given the above, I find the description of people's choices as "uncaused causes" (i.e., necessary events) to be problematic. This apparently means that all events freely chosen by an individual would become necessary events. This seems to flatly contradict the notion of freely choosing from among alternatives in the making of a contingent event (the only type of event with alternatives). Also, it muddies the idea that all contingent events can be traced back to a single necessary event, which I take to be the basic gist of the Cosmological Argument. Satisfying the traceability requirement in this way is quite clear. Also, as you indicate, the "necessity" associated with human uncaused causes, would be of a different kind to the necessity of an original uncaused event, since "human necessity" would not satisfy the traceability requirement.

Lastly, I remain unconvinced that there is any substantial difference between "unaffected" and "uncaused". If an event is uncaused, in what other way can it be affected? And if an event is unaffected, is it possible for it to be caused?

Luke.

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Firstly, there is still the untackled problem that if we remove "alternatives" as a criterion of contingency/necessity, then all events become necessary by default. In this situation, there is no other possible world in which an alternative event (to the events in our universe) could have transpired, and so all possible worlds would contain the same set of events as our universe, thus making all events necessary.

I don't see what is the supposed to be the problem. We have not (yet) removed alternative as a criterion for distinguishing between a necessity and a contingency (but I think we could as discussed below -- whether we would want to is another matter).

Maybe the problem you have in mind ties back to my earlier claim that necessity could be defined without reference to contingency, but, then, I still do not see how that is a problem because being able to define necessity without reference to contingency in no way precludes a situational alternative which would be sufficient to indicate why some thing would not be a necessity. Anyhow, if there are no alternatives, then each event arguably follows necessarily from those which are previous, but, there is another factor which would still prevent each and every event from being a necessary event. See below.

Secondly, and relatedly, what you refer to as "the traceability requirement" might be described as tracing [...] events back in time until we meet with some [...] necessary [...] event, which is posited as the first cause of all the traced [...] events.

You will notice that you recognize temporality as a factor that is pertinent to traceability. This means that, given time (or any sort of sequentiality) as relevant to actuality, even if there were no alternatives, then the traceability requirement would restrict necessity to the first cause or the first fact. This is to say that, even if all events follow necessarily from what precedes, only the first event (which would happen to be uncaused) is a necessary event since it has been actual in the sequence of all other actuality; the same cannot be said of any of the other events.

the criterion of "caused" is insufficient to make an event contingent. A contingent event must also satisfy the criterion of having possible "alternatives".

I agree. So, this is where we now stand: Just because an event is caused, that does not mean that the event is contingent so long as contingent is defined only in terms of there being or having been relevant and realizable alternatives. On the other hand, were we to speak strictly in terms of causation, then the fact of having been caused could be sufficient to describe an event as being non-necessary in the sequential sense whereby only a first event (which would clearly be one that happens to be uncaused) qualifies as a necessity. In this context, the term contingent would be identical to caused, but that is because this is a context which is utterly unconcerned about whether there are such things as alternatives.

Without possible alternatives, a caused event remains necessary. (I'm trying not to lose the concept of "contingency" in this discussion! The traceability requirement greatly depends upon it.)

I hope the above discussion makes it clearer that even if there were no alternative way for some caused event to have turned out (given the preceding sequence of events), the fact that one event necessarily follows from what precedes it does not make that event a necessary event inasmuch as a necessary event is not the same as a necessarily following event (or an event which necessarily follows or follows necessarily). Remember that we are talking about two sorts of necessary, and, as I believe I previously noted, the modal sense does not have to depend on a string of causes restricted in a way to eliminate all alternatives. However, as per the part of the discussion which is this posting, it should also be apparent that even in a context restricted so as to eliminate alternatives, there is still an effectively modal sense of necessary as distinguished from that which is necessary in the sense of how it is entailed. So, it seems as though traceability depends more on sequentiality than on alternatives, but traceability could also depend on or be affected by both sequentiality and alternatives.

Thirdly, given the above, I find the description of people's choices as "uncaused causes" (i.e., necessary events) to be problematic. This apparently means that all events freely chosen by an individual would become necessary events. This seems to flatly contradict the notion of freely choosing from among alternatives in the making of a contingent event (the only type of event with alternatives).

If my remarks above are clear, and if they succeed, then it should be more apparent why it is that being an uncaused cause is never in itself a sufficient condition for an event to be a necessary-event; there is, after all, the traceability requirement for establishing the event as the first event (where, of course, the first event will turn out to be uncaused). That aside, you are quite correct to say that there is a problem for "events freely chosen by an individual" if there all no alternatives, if the events in the sequence which is actuality necessarily follow one another, but that problem rests squarely in the fact that the concept of choice requires the actuality of an indeterminateness which itself entails the actuality of alternatives.

As indicated above, given that one could understand contingent so that it could be properly applied to any event which is not the first in the sequence of all events, the focus of the problem regarding choice is not on contingency per se but, rather, simply on the matter of the actuality of alternatives or indeterminateness. The point is that there is a way of understanding contingency as a condition that does not require alternatives even if that is how we most commonly think about contingencies.

Something which might pertain to the matter of a reality without alternatives is the question of whether there actually are multiple events in such a reality. If an event were something other than a concept, what would it be, what could it be, other than a dynamic system of some sort? But, absent actual alternatives (as distinguished from conceptual or make-believe alternatives), would there be anything other, anything more than one actual dynamic? I am just thinking out loud here, but I wonder if such an understanding about events might affect the rest of the natural theology project of interest to Koons. Another possibly related matter regards the question of from whence might come alternatives? Alternatives clearly depend on an actual indeterminateness, but is indeterminateness actual as a presented context in which actions or agency takes place? Or, does agency cause or create indeterminateness? Like I said, I am just thinking out loud, sort of making notes that might be pertinent to later delvings.

Michael

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This means that, given time (or any sort of sequentiality) as relevant to actuality, even if there were no alternatives, then the traceability requirement would restrict necessity to the first cause or the first fact. This is to say that, even if all events follow necessarily from what precedes, only the first event (which would happen to be uncaused) is a necessary event since it has been actual in the sequence of all other actuality; the same cannot be said of any of the other events.

So, this is where we now stand: Just because an event is caused, that does not mean that the event is contingent so long as contingent is defined only in terms of there being or having been relevant and realizable alternatives. On the other hand, were we to speak strictly in terms of causation, then the fact of having been caused could be sufficient to describe an event as being non-necessary in the sequential sense whereby only a first event (which would clearly be one that happens to be uncaused) qualifies as a necessity. In this context, the term contingent would be identical to caused, but that is because this is a context which is utterly unconcerned about whether there are such things as alternatives.

I presume in the following that the contingency/necessity of an event depends on only two criteria, which are being with/without: (i) cause; and (ii) alternative.

As you've agreed, fulfilling the criterion of "cause" alone is insufficient to make an event contingent; contingent events require the satisfaction of both criteria: a contingent event needs to satisfy being both (i) with "cause" and (ii) with "alternative". However, a necessary event is made necessary by fulfilling either of the (inverse of the) two criteria: a necessary event can be either (i) without "cause" or (ii) without "alternative", or without both.

Therefore, if contingency does depend on both criteria, then I don't think we could remove alternative "as a criterion for distinguishing between a necessity and a contingency" whether we wanted to or not.

You are wanting to "speak strictly in terms of causation", or the criterion of "cause", on the grounds that the criterion of "alternatives" matters little to traceability, or the "sequential sense". And I agree, since it is sufficient for a necessary event to simply be "uncaused". But this doesn't mean we should only focus on the criterion of "cause".

While a necessary event may be determined without reference to the criterion of "alternatives", the traceability requirement, and the larger Cosmological Argument, both depend on a relationship, or distinction, between both necessary and contingent events. So, while the trail of events must stop at some first uncaused event, and even though alternatives may be irrelevant to this first event, the contingent events that we must trace back through, and distinguish from, this necessary event, are still within the scope of this discussion, as are their associated "alternatives".

I hope the above discussion makes it clearer that even if there were no alternative way for some caused event to have turned out (given the preceding sequence of events), the fact that one event necessarily follows from what precedes it does not make that event a necessary event inasmuch as a necessary event is not the same as a necessarily following event (or an event which necessarily follows or follows necessarily).

If we allow for "alternatives", then no event need follow necessarily, presuming that all events which succeed the initial causal event are contingent events (with alternatives).

However, as per the part of the discussion which is this posting, it should also be apparent that even in a context restricted so as to eliminate alternatives, there is still an effectively modal sense of necessary as distinguished from that which is necessary in the sense of how it is entailed.

These two "sense of necessary" correspond to the both of the criteria I'm presenting here, and the satisfaction of either criterion is sufficient to make an event necessary.

If my remarks above are clear, and if they succeed, then it should be more apparent why it is that being an uncaused cause is never in itself a sufficient condition for an event to be a necessary-event; there is, after all, the traceability requirement for establishing the event as the first event (where, of course, the first event will turn out to be uncaused)

I think traceability is inseparable from the criterion of "cause", and is unrelated to the criterion of "alternative", and that we need no other criteria. I take traceability to be a wider concept, also encompassing contingent events. The only criterion of relevance to traceability is the "cause" criterion.

However, this shouldn't be confused with my earlier assertion that the traceability requirement depends on both necessary and contingent events, since one still has to trace through a set of contingent events first, before reaching the necessary event, and what makes the contingent events contingent is their having "alternatives". Without allowing for "alternatives", all events would be necessary and there would be no distinction to be made regarding the modality of any events; "possibility, actuality and necessity [would] collapse together."

That aside, you are quite correct to say that there is a problem for "events freely chosen by an individual" if there all no alternatives, if the events in the sequence which is actuality necessarily follow one another, but that problem rests squarely in the fact that the concept of choice requires the actuality of an indeterminateness which itself entails the actuality of alternatives.

I'm with those who consider indeterminism to present just as much a problem, if not more so, than determinism presents for free will. However, I might tentatively answer in the affirmative to your question: "does agency cause or create indeterminateness?" I don't think of it so much as creating indeterminateness, but rather as creating possibilities, by an agent's imagining/knowing what possibilities he has open to himself in the future.

The point is that there is a way of understanding contingency as a condition that does not require alternatives even if that is how we most commonly think about contingencies.

We can define necessity as either an uncaused, originating event or as an event without alternative (or both). And we can define a contingency as being an event which must be both caused and containing possible alternatives. So, while you are not incorrect to say that an original uncaused event is necessary, there is no difference in the "necessity" we speak of when considering the "other type" of necessity, which is that found in an event without alternative. Satisfying either or both of these criteria of necessity are what make an event necessary (in any sense). And so, there is no need to focus only on the criterion of "cause".

However, in order for the Cosmological Argument to make a distinction between a necessary event and all contingent events, it must allow for the modality of possibility (i.e., the criterion of "alternatives"), and rule out the necessity of all events. According to the definition, this leaves the uncaused first cause as the only necessary event. Here, I think, we agree.

Luke.

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We can define necessity as either an uncaused, originating event or as an event without alternative (or both).

Yes, we can define necessity in both of these ways, but these are two different senses, and I think that it is the "uncaused, originating event" or first fact or first cause which fits the modal sense of necessity (through, as has been suggested, traceability). It is possible that some event could be "without alternative" in the sense that this event necessarily follows from something(s) preceding it, in the sense that nothing else could have followed from what precedes. That is to say that something can follow necessarily without being modally necessary.

And we can define a contingency as being an event which must be both caused and containing possible alternatives. [emphasis added]

The suitability of this definition for contingency first of all depends on there being a basis (presumed or otherwise) for there ever being actual alternative possibilities. For instance, it might have been in the most recent eternalism thread where I presented an admittedly phenomenological basis for the actuality of indeterminateness and, thereby, the actuality of alternative possibilities at least in some circumstances.

One reason I question the "and" in the definition above is that I am not sure what basis there is for alternative possibilities given an "in amber" sort of eternalism, for instance. We could, even in that sort of eternalism context, conceive of alternatives, but being able to conceive of alternatives in that context does not seem to be identical to the alternatives being actually possible. So, if there are no actually possible alternatives given that eternalism, there could still be coherent talk in terms of causes, and there could still be the first fact or first event in the sequence that is eternal, and being the first in sequence would make that first event uncaused such that all sequentially subsequent events would be caused and without actually possible alternatives. This is to say that in that context being caused is sufficient for an event to be a contingency.

The same argument applies to the strictest physicalism or hard determinism.

I not believe that strict physicalism or hard determinism or eternalism are true. I believe that alternative possibilities are actual, indicating that indeterminateness is actual. And, speaking now only in terms of agents, it makes no difference whether this indeterminateness describes or pertains to the context in which an agent finds himself (such that the indeterminateness could be thought of as waiting for agent action) or whether this indeterminateness is imposed by an agent. Given that the condition of being caused is sufficient for contingency in the absence of indeterminateness, it remains to be seen what reason there is for thinking that there must also be alternative possibilities for there to be contingency in a setting which includes or can include indeterminateness.

If it were the case that indeterminateness appears (even if we have to say on the "macro" scale) only when imposed (such as by agency), then it could still be argued that this imposition is still caused if only because the agent-imposer was itself caused (even if the cause for the agent's imposition lies entirely within the agent); hence, we once again are relying on the condition of having been caused rather than the actuality of alternative possibility as the basis for contingency.

This leaves one other matter to take into account to fully flesh out the issue of what determines contingency. Were it possible for something from without our space-time context to affect or produce causes within our space-time context, then that cause would itself be uncaused within or by our context, and it is under the condition of being uncaused within or by our context that traceability would be required to note that this uncaused cause is not (modally) necessary; this still leaves the first uncaused event as necessary in terms of our space-time context since this other uncaused cause acts upon the context for which that sequentially first uncaused is (modally) necessary. Of course, this traceability can also be said to be found within any causal sequence; therefore, even though we need make no specific reference to traceability in the previous examples for which contingency is most closely derived from being caused, traceability is present in those examples as well.

So, while you are not incorrect to say that an original uncaused event is necessary, there is no difference in the "necessity" we speak of when considering the "other type" of necessity, which is that found in an event without alternative. Satisfying either or both of these criteria of necessity are what make an event necessary (in any sense). And so, there is no need to focus only on the criterion of "cause".

While I disagree with the notion that "there is no [effective] difference in the" senses of necessity if alternative possibilities are not actual, I do agree that we need not "focus only on the criterion of 'cause'", even if there is a different basis for my agreement. As I have indicated previously, I am perfectly happy to speak in terms of causes or affectings; we might even speak simply in terms of sequences.

However, in order for the Cosmological Argument to make a distinction between a necessary event and all contingent events, it must allow for the modality of possibility (i.e., the criterion of "alternatives"), and rule out the necessity of all events. According to the definition, this leaves the uncaused first cause as the only necessary event. Here, I think, we agree.

We agree almost utterly. If what I wrote above is clear enough, and if what I argued above succeeds, then we could still have a Cosmological Argument for a necessary first fact, or event, or what have you, even if there were no actually possible alternatives. This, however, would restrict the natural theology project in ways that would likely produce problems for other theistic notions about God. Without actually possible alternatives, all that might arguably be able to follow from such a Cosmological Argument is God as Sovereign, and, with regards to Christianity alone, the most repulsive forms of Christianity tend to be those versions which emphasize, assert, and defend the sovereignty of God above all else. Personally, I think it better to consider matters in terms of there being actual alternative possibilities even though I do not see a way of arguing that such possibilities are necessary in any sense for the Cosmological Argument to arrive at the notion of a first event or fact that is modally necessary.

Michael

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Yes, we can define necessity in both of these ways[...]

I'm glad we agree on this point.

[...']but these are two different senses, and I think that it is the "uncaused, originating event" or first fact or first cause which fits the modal sense of necessity (through, as has been suggested, traceability).

The way I see it, the uncaused, originating event, or first cause, is related wholly to the criterion of "cause", as is the concept of "traceability". Given that I take the "modal sense of necessity" to refer only to an event's being "without alternative", I find your claim that both an uncaused event and the concept of traceability "fits the modal sense [i.e., "alternatives" sense] of necessity," to be confused.

It is possible that some event could be "without alternative" in the sense that this event necessarily follows from something(s) preceding it, in the sense that nothing else could have followed from what precedes.

If an event had to necessarily follow from what preceded it, then I take this to imply that there were no alternatives available for the succeeding event. If there are no alternatives available following "from what precedes," this means that only one possible outcome for that successive event is available in any possible world, making it a necessary event.

That is to say that something can follow necessarily without being modally necessary.

To reiterate, "without being modally necessary" is the same as saying that the successive event is "with alternatives". So, how can something "follow necessarily" if there are alternatives available?

I think what it means to be caused here, is no more than being preceded by something. The first cause event, being without cause, cannot be preceded by anything, otherwise it would have been caused by something prior to it. This causal necessity is necessary in order for there to be a space-time context; it initiates the space-time sequence of events. On the other hand, modal necessity (i.e., being "without alternative") refers to a necessary sequence of inevitable events starting from the first cause. If these events were instead contingent (i.e., "with alternative"), this would mean that there is/was more than one possible outcome for each event in the sequence.

[i planned to keep responding to your points, but then felt a need to summarise my position, as I do below. I kept the above because I thought it may help to answer some of your questions. Or, it may simply be a cause for further discussion.]

with alternative | without alternative

caused: contingent | necessary

uncaused: necessary/contingent? | necessary

I realise that the ideas I've presented here may be unconventional, and that the Cosmological Argument (CA) may not normally refer to the criterion of "alternatives", or to modal necessity. In fact, from what I've been unable to find online, I don't think that the concepts of "necessary" and "contingent" are conventionally applied to events at all. The Stanford article makes reference only to necessary and contingent beings, rather than events.

Hopefully, however, the lack of an existing definition for these concepts may help to justify my uses here. I take it we can agree to describe an uncaused event as necessary. This seems to be the basic Cosmological Argument. As davidm puts it in the OP:

[i']Broadly, the cosmological argument, the subject of this thread, is a first-cause argument. It is thought that the universe, being contingent, or being a collection of contingent things, must have a cause that itself is not contingent but necessary. This cause is identified as God. Or, in the Kalam version, it is said that everything that begins to exist must have a cause; under this view the univese cannot have an infinite temporal regress and must begin with something. This causative agent is identified with God.

To this, I unconventionally take the concepts of "necessity" and "contingency" from modal logic and apply these concepts to events. This is the type of necessity we find in discussions on determinism (and free will). This modal necessity derives from an event having no alternative. By contrast, the causal necessity I spoke of earlier derives from an event having nothing preceding it; from being uncaused. You agreed to my earlier assertion that "without possible alternatives, a caused event remains necessary," and it is not the criterion of being with "cause", but the criterion of being "without alternative" which makes this event necessary. To further justify this unconventional addition to the CA, given that even a caused event can remain necessary (in a case of, e.g., hard determinism), then we need to introduce the criterion of modal "alternatives", to distinguish a contingent caused event from a necessary caused event.

This brings me to the question mark in the table above. I had been presuming prior to this post that when it comes to the question of an event's being both "uncaused" and "with alternative" (i.e., a first cause with alternatives) that the event is a necessary one, or that causal necessity overrules modal necessity in this case. I suppose I had been working on the presumption of the CA, that an uncaused event is a necessary event. However, if even a caused event can be necessary - presuming that "necessity" and "contingency" can be coherently applied to events - then what makes an uncaused event necessary? If a caused event can be necessary, then being "uncaused" can't act as a criterion for the event's necessity. That is, being "uncaused" can't be what makes an event necessary, if even a caused event can be necessary. Therefore, I think the correct modality for the questionable position on the table above should read "contingent". This would mean that contingency and necessity have only one relevant determining criterion, which is "alternatives".

The CA works on the assumption that all events after the necessary first cause are contingencies. Given the example of hard determinism, this needn't be the case. However, I note that these issues arise only from attempting to combine modal concepts with the standard CA. But this attempt was borne from my trying to understand what makes an uncaused event - regardless of "alternatives" - a necessary event. Perhaps I have already answered that question for myself, by calling it an "originating" or "initial" event, necessary as the cause of all other events (in that context). And, perhaps the CA can do without modal concepts - where the necessity and contingency of events can be distinguished by simply being either caused or uncaused. I just thought that there must be more to those modal concepts, and I still do.

Given the question of hard determinism, is satisfying the criterion of "cause" alone sufficient to make an event contingent? You agreed earlier that it wasn't, but do you really consider this irrelevant to the CA, when the CA's only criterion of contingency is the "cause" criterion?

Maybe I'm misapplying and conflating two different senses of "necessity" and "contingency" here: the Cosmological Argument sense versus the modal sense.

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