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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 24, 1999

Patrick Francken, Heimir Geirsson
Pages 285-304

Regresses, Sufficient Reasons, and Cosmological Arguments

Most of the historically salient versions of the Cosmological Argument rest on two assumptions. The first assumption is that some contingeney (i.e., contingent fact) is such that a necessity is required to explain it. Against that assumption we will argue that necessities alone cannot explain any contingency and, furthermore, that it is impossible to explain the totality of contingencies at all. The second assumption is the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Against the Principle of Sufficient Reason we will argue that it is unreasonable to require, as the Principle of Sufficient Reason does, that any given whole of contingent facts has an explanation. Instead, it depends on the results of empirical investigation whether or not one should ask for an explanation of the given whole. We argue that if a cosmological argument invokes either of the two assumptions, then it fails to prove that a necessity is needed to explain the universe of contingent facts.

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