The Intelligible Universe: A Cosmological Argument by Hugo Anthony Meynell

By Hugo Anthony Meynell

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In cases of arguments supposed to establish some matter of fact, it is often asked whether the reasoning involved is deductive or inductive. This alternative is apt to be very misleading, owing to the ambiguity of the term 'induction'. This may be taken in a narrow sense, as amounting only to what one might call 'simple induction'. Here one infers from a number of cases where things of type x have turned out to have property y, when there are no krlown instances of such things failing to have that property, that some other x has that property, or that all xs have that property.

58 And that the maximum of any class is the cause of everything in that class, as Aquinas claims (in (iv)), is demonstrably false. 'The biggest liar is not a cause of all the others. ' 59 Fifth Way. (i) We see that things in the world which lack intelligence act for an end; this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, to get the best result. (ii) Thus they achieve their ends not fortuitously but designedly. (iii) But what lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless directed thereto by some being with knowledge and intelligence - as an arrow shot to its mark by an archer.

Let us call the states of affairs which make possible in this sense, but do not necessitate, such events as my going to lunch, Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon, the evolution of the giraffe, and the transmutation of any atom of a radioactive element, enabling conditions of these events. One might then put it that the principle of sufficient reason, so far as it is implicit in the account of our knowledge of the world which I have sketched, commits one to the view that contingent things, events and states of affairs must have enabling conditions, but not necessarily the causally necessitating conditions on which determinists insist.

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