Volume 3, 1977
Brute Contingency and the Principle of Sufficient Reason
This essay deals with a Leibnizian version of the argument from the contingent existence of the world to the necessary existence of God, especially with the statements of the argument presented by Father Copleston in his famous B.B.C. debate with Bertrand Russell and, more recently, by Richard Taylor, in his Metaphysics. The essay is divided into two parts. In the first part, I am chiefly concerned with showing how the principle of sufficient reason, together with the claim that something contingent exists, will allow us to conclude, without any appeal to the impossibility of an infinite series of contingent causes, that there exists a necessary being distinct from the world of contingent beings. In the second part of the essay, I try to show that, in a form strong enough to support the argument, the principle of sufficient reason has the implication—undesirable to many, but not all theists— that nothing could be logically contingent.