Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Question of Being part 2: Against ICR


I have done a previous post on the impossibility of ICR (Infinite Causal Regression). There are aspects of the subject that I didn't deal with in that so I am hoping to deal with them here. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an excellent article on the Cosmological Argument. I am going to deal with issues raised in that article, issues pertaining to contingency and ICR. In counter to the argument of a necessary first cause Russell argues that the universe just is and requires no explanation. In the last post I argued that this is unsatisfying, Russell argued that we derive our concept of cause from observation, thus since we don't observe the final cause, or the cause of the universe (see objection 1 in link above). The obvious answer is that we don't have to observe ever aspect to extrapolate from what we do observe, that's the whole principle of inductive reasoning in scinece. I would argue that we do observe the contingency of the universe because it's all around at every moment, while we can't know the finality of it's contingency, we can see plainly that the only we have of the mode of being of the universe is contingency, which is in everything we see.

Rusell argued that the move from the parts to the whole, from contingent parts to wholly contingent universe, is the "fallacy of composition."

Russell correctly notes that arguments of the part-whole type can commit the Fallacy of Composition. For example, the argument that since all the bricks in the wall are small, the wall is small, is fallacious. Yet it is an informal fallacy of content, not a formal fallacy. Sometimes the totality has the same quality as the parts because of the nature of the parts invoked—the wall is brick because it is built of bricks. The universe's contingency, theists argue, resembles the second case. If all the contingent things in the universe, including matter and energy, ceased to exist simultaneously, the universe itself, as the totality of these things, would cease to exist. But if the universe can cease to exist, it is contingent and requires an explanation for its existence (Reichenbach, chap. 5).(from Stanford article above).
The assertion that the exact duplication of the building material in the overall wall is a red herring. The argument that the size of the bricks is the size of the all is not really analogous to the issue of contingency. The analogy would between the actual state of the material, not it's size divided into increments, but the material itself. A wall made out of all bricks is what we call "a brick wall" that is a wall made wholly of the materiel "brick." If a wall is made up of contingencies then it's a contingent wall.

Some reply that this argument for the contingency of the universe still is fallacious, for even if every contingent being were to fail to exist in some possible world, it may be the case that there is no possible world that lacks a contingent being. That is, though no being would exist in every possible world, every world would possess at least one contingent being. Rowe gives the example of a horse race. “We know that although no horse in a given horse race necessarily will be the winner, it is, nevertheless, necessary that some horse in the race will be the winner” (1975, 164).
Atheist answer:
Rowe's example, however, fails, for it is possible that all the horses break a leg and none finishes the race. That is, the necessity that some horse will win follows only if there is some reason to think that some horse must finish the race.
That is not a real answer because it doesn't prove that the universe is necessary it proves merely that there might be no universe at all. Since that means the universe itself could have failed to exist that makes it contingent (standard definition: that which could cease or fail to exist). The author of the article argues as a back up that we must have a reason to believe that something is necessary: "Similarly, his objection to the universe's contingency will hold only if there is some reason to think that the existence of something is necessary. " That's just the problem, we have no reason to assume the universe is necessary, we have an obvious reason to assume that being is necessary, since something can't come from nothing, there's ample reason to assume an eternal first cause. Being eternal it could not could not cease or fail, the logic of an eternal first cause makes it necessary a prori (ie Necessary: that which cannot cease of fail to exist). If something is truly eternal it could not cease or fail to exist. Consider the lunacy in saying that some thing has existed for ever with no cause but on June fourth, 1955 it cased to be. Why June 4, 1955, why not eons ago? It had infinite chances to cease, why would it do so on that one day and not another much sooner? Moreover, the concept of eternal being is limitless, unnumbered and infinite. To then have it cease would be to put a number to the infinite which is impossible. All of which is reason enough to assume eternal necessary being.

The article at that point goes off into what I think is a tangent arguing for the possible existence of a world with no contingent beings.

One argument given in defense of this thesis is that the existence of one contingent being may be necessary for the nonexistence of some other contingent being. But though the fact that something's existence is necessary for the existence of something else holds for certain properties (for example, the existence of children is necessary for someone to be a parent), it is doubtful that something's existence is necessary for something else's nonexistence per se, which is what is needed to support the argument that denies the contingency of the universe. Hence, given the contingency of everything in the universe, it remains that there is a possible world without any contingent beings.
I think he missed the point. The point is not that there must be a contingent being of some kind in every possible world, but that the state of contingency is mandated for all possible worlds (they are all dependent upon God) since they could all fail to exist. The author of the article, Bruce Reichenbach, argues in terms of individual beings. The point is that the whole is demonstrated as contingent because it is made up of contingent parts. This is not the fallacy of composition becuase if the parts are all the same the over all structure is the same as the parts. We can get off track by being literalistic and saying "the small bricks make a small wall" but they make a wall made of brick.

The fallacy of composition is when one reasons from the parts to the whole. In this case my argument (P2a) reasons from the fact that the universe is a collection of contingent things to the conclusion that the universe is contingent. But this is not my only argument for the contingency of the universe, be that as it may, it is not the fallacy of composition. The fallacy doesn't happen just any time one reasons in this way. It is not fallacious to argue form the parts to the whole if the parts are all alike.

Robert Koons on Leadership University


Phl 327
Contemporary Christian Philosophy
Fall 2000, University of Texas

The argument commits the fallacy of composition: from the fact that each part of the cosmos is caused, it fallaciously draws the conclusion that the whole cosmos is caused. Response: this is a misstatement of the argument. The argument assumes that all wholly contingent situations are caused. We can prove that the cosmos is wholly contingent, so it must have a cause.

The Nizkor Project

vistied 12/13/03

The second type of fallacy of Composition is committed when it is concluded that what is true of the parts of a whole must be true of the whole without there being adequate justification for the claim. More formally, the line of "reasoning" would be as follows:
The parts of the whole X have characteristics A, B, C, etc. Therefore the whole X must have characteristics A, B, C. That this sort of reasoning is fallacious because it cannot be inferred that simply because the parts of a complex whole have (or lack) certain properties that the whole that they are parts of has those properties. This is especially clear in math: The numbers 1 and 3 are both odd. 1 and 3 are parts of 4. Therefore, the number 4 is odd. It must be noted that reasoning from the properties of the parts to the properties of the whole is not always fallacious. If there is justification for the inference from parts to whole, then the reasoning is not fallacious. For example, if every part of the human body is made of matter, then it would not be an error in reasoning to conclude that the whole human body is made of matter. Similiarly, if every part of a structure is made of brick, there is no fallacy comitted when one concludes that the whole structure is made of brick.

Thomas Rauchenstein.Copyright 1997, (link is no good)

The argument (Cosmological) does not commit the fallacy of composition. Just as every part of a puzzle is red, so must the whole be red; if every part of a structure consists of stone, so must the whole consist of stone. Likewise, if every possible being is in potentiality, so the whole of all possible beings is in potentiality, and thus, needs to be actualized (caused). The very nature of the parts demand that the whole be caused as well.

If all the horses break a leg and no one finishes that is analogs to failure to exist not a defeat for the example. There is no reason to limit the example to just individual beings. ICR is made up of a string of contingent universes. For example where ICR is conveyed by the oscillating universe, big bang => big crunch, black whole, pops back out into another big bang, and another big crunch, another black and another popping out, on and on forever with no beginning and no end; the whole is made up of contingent parts. Take out the contingent universes, and you have no eternal string or series of infinite regression. The term "regression" refers to tracing the sting of c/e back infinitely. If the c/e is gone there's no string. Thus there is a possibility the string could have ceased at any point. That means the whole is contingent becuase it's made up of all contingent parts. Koons reflects this answer in his mermological argument:

To avoid any hint of the Fallacy of Composition and to avoid these complications, Koons (198–99) formulates the argument for the contingency of the universe as a mereological argument. If something is contingent, it contains a contingent part. The whole and part overlap, and by virtue of overlapping, have a common part. Since the part in virtue of which they overlap is wholly contingent, the whole likewise must be contingent.

Mememological Aggregation Axiom shows us that wholly congingent sitautions are wholly contingent

Dr. Robert Koons UT (Logician)

1) Every wholly contingent fact has a cause. (facts that are partly or wholly necessary need not)

2) Applying aggregation axiom, anything of a kin dk = such a thing as arrgigate of all kinds.

3) Aggreagates can't exist unless all parts exist (which means necessary aggregate must have Necessary parts, contingent aggregate must have contingent parts. The result is necessary and contingnet facts which means contingent aggregate as a whole). 4) Absolutely necessary facts cannot be caused, therefore, wholly contingent facts (those whith only contingent parts) can be caused.

5) Causal principle can be thought of as empirically supported (effects not limited to a particular region of space/time in the case of physical laws for example, :. we have reason to suspect that all contingent facts have causes).

For an explaination of the fact token/type situation I turn to Dr.Koons himself:

Phl 356
Western Theism
Spring '98, University of Texas

LECTURE #7: Contemporary Versions: My Argument

Facts are the kinds of things that make declarative sentences, like "Caesar has died", true. Facts enter into cause and effect relations with other facts. We can distinguish between "types" and "tokens", to use terms introduced into philosophy by C. S. Peirce. Each individual penny is a token, and the property or kind of penny-hood is a type. Each penny is a token of one and the same type, which is multiply realized in different places at different times. My argument concerns fact-tokens, not fact-types. For example, we can use the phrases "that Caesar died", "Caesar's dying" or "Caesar's death" to refer either to a fact-token, the particular, actual occurrence that constituted the ending of Caesar's life, or to a fact-type, the kind of occurence in which the individual Caesar dies. Thus, the token of Caesar's death includes the actual thrust of Brutus's blade, and that very token would not have existed had Caesar died in some other way, of old age, for example. In contrast, the type, Caesar's dying, could have been realized in many different ways, including the actual assassination and the non-actual dying in old age. My argument focusses on the actual token I call the cosmos. This token includes all of the wholly contingent fact-tokens in the world as parts -- had the slightest detail been different anywhere at any time, the particular token I am calling 'the cosmos'would not have existed. It would instead be replaced by a different token. The fact-type, the existing of a universe, could have been realized by many different possible tokens.

For an explaination of Meremology I again turn to Dr. Koons:

"My argument focusses on the particular token that actually realized this type.If we assume that every fact has a cause, then there could exist no uncaused fact. Instead, I assume that every wholly contingent fact has a cause. Facts that are partly or wholly necessary need not, and indeed cannot, be caused. Since facts are concrete, actual things, we can talk meaningfully about the parts of a fact. Consequently, I use the principles of the mathematical theory of mereology, the theory of the part-whole relation. The most important principle of mereology is the aggregation axiom. This axiom states that, if there are any things of kind K, then there is such a thing as the aggregate of all the K's. For example, there is such a thing as water, so we can talk meaningfully about the aggregate or "mereological sum" of all the world's water. I assume that an aggregate cannot exist unless all of its parts exist. This means that a necessary aggregate must have only necessary parts, since if an aggregate has a contingent part, then that part might not exist, which would mean that the aggregate would not exist either. Aggregates are not like bodies or institutions, which can go on existing without the same parts. However, a contingent aggregate can have necessary parts. If we glue together some contingent and necessary facts, the resulting aggregate is contingent as a whole. I assume that an absolutely necessary fact cannot be caused. If a fact is caused, then all of its parts are caused. So, any fact that contains a necessary fact cannot be caused.

Therefore, it is only wholly contingent facts that can be caused. A wholly contingent fact is a fact that has only contingent parts.I argue that the causal principle should be thought of as empirically supported. We find that a wide variety of facts are caused. This includes conditions both small and large (from atomic physics to astronomy and cosmology), both recent and ancient, both transient and long-lasting. We even discover that many everlasting conditions have causes. For example, the fact that the physical world is approximately Newtonian is caused by certain features of general relativity. Similarly, the ideal gas laws are caused by the underlying dynamics of the gas molecules, and Brownian motion is caused by atomic collisions. In these cases, the effects are not limited to a particular region of space or time. Thus, we have good empirical reason to believe that every fact that can be caused, that is, every wholly contingent fact, has a cause.

Cyclial Universe
The concept that the universe is eternallay ocillating between big bangs and big crunches. When the matter from the explosion of a Big Bang reaches a certain point the gravitational pull draws it back, it callapses into superdense black hole and pops back out again. This notion does not require an initial cause, the cyclical universe is just always there always going through its cycles.

a) Universe continuing to expand

Evidence from three recent studies reveals that the final fate of the universe will be to drift apart and cease all useful functions capable of supporting life due to missing mass, which can't produce gravitational pull to bring it all back together and start again, and heat death in which case energy is useless for work. Several major studies show this to be the case.

[New Scientist Magazine, archive 11, April 98, archive; originally Oct. 96] you should be able to click here, but here's the url just in case) [

"ON THE night of 5 March last year, the huge telescope of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile intercepted a message from deepest space. Transmitted a billion years before the Earth was born, its contents have proved to be of truly cosmic significance. The message was barely readable after its journey halfway across the Universe, and an international team of experts laboured for months to decode it. In January, Saul Perlmutter of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California and his colleagues revealed to the world what they believe to be its gist: "The Universe will never end." A month later, a team led by Brian Schmidt of the Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories near Canberra in Australia published the decoded contents of more of these cosmic missives, which arrive as bursts of light from supernova explosions in far-flung galaxies. The message was the same. Now Chris Kochanek and his colleagues at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, are about to publish more evidence, this time from light that has been bent and sculpted by the gravity of unseen galaxies."

Omega force = Continued expansion forever (no Big Cruch)

"These three sets of cosmic missives all suggest that instead of collapsing in on itself in a big crunch, our Universe will go on expanding forever. And that's not all. They also hint that the expanding Universe is in the grip of a mysterious force that is fighting against gravity--a force that pervades the entire cosmos and springs literally from nothing."(Ibid.)

[mysterious force = "omega" ie the equation of gravitational force vs. mass needed to close the universe; omega must = 1 to close]

Missing Mass.

[New Scientist article April 1999] "If it [the universe] contains enough matter, gravity will eventually slow its expansion, stop it, and reverse it--producing a cataclysmic big crunch billions of years hence. But if there is too little matter--or if there is an extra source of "oomph" at work in the cosmos--then the Universe will expand forever.... Cosmologists call the ratio of the actual density of matter in our Universe to this critical density 'Omega.' And whole armies of astronomers have spent decades trying to work out if Omega is less than, more than or equal to 1.,... "Studies of the gravitational effects of clusters of galaxies have revealed that there must be at least 10 times as much mass tied up in invisible "dark matter" in the Universe as there is in the familiar form of luminous stars and gas. Yet even when all this dark matter is thrown into the equation, it still doesn't make the theorists happy. Despite searching every cosmic nook and cranny, astronomers have never found anything like the amount needed to make Omega equal to 1."

"So the take-home message looks the same as that now emerging from the supernova and quasar surveys: the Universe is going to expand forever, and it may yet prove to be flat. Certainly the idea of the big crunch seems to have gone for good, but the exact values of Lambda and Omega, and the fate of the cosmologists' theories, are still up for grabs. These values may finally be nailed early in the next century, with the launch of NASA's Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP) and the European Space Agency's PLANCK missions. These will use the heat left over from the big bang to try yet another way of measuring Omega and Lambda, which may lay the question to rest for good ("Genesis to Exodus", New Scientist," 19 October 1996, p 30).

Flat Universe means no contraction

Andre Linde, Scientific American, Sept 1997

"A second trouble spot is the flatness of space. General relativity suggests that space may be very curved, with a typical radius on the order of the Planck length, or 10^-33 centimeter. We see however, that our universe is just about flat on a scale of 10^28 centimeters, the radius of the observable part of the universe. This result of our observation differs from theoretical expectations by more than 60 orders of magnitude." [Messuer is a leading physicist and one of the first to invent the inflationary universe theory]

ABC Scientists: Universe is Flat another link Physics.

Wayne Hu of the Institute for Advanced Studies, School of Natural Sciences in New Jersey said "temperature maps of the CMB form a snapshot image of the Universe when it was extremely young." "The...result supports a flat universe, which means that the total mass and energy density of the universe is equal to the so-called critical density," Wu wrote. "A perfectly flat universe will remain at the critical density and keep on expanding forever, because there is not enough matter to make it recollapse in a 'big crunch.'"

c) End of Universe reveals beginning--universe would have already ceased.

Energy of the universe is being expended, as it burns up,it becomes useless for work. The fate of the universe will be eventual death in ciy darkness as all of its suns burn out and their energy dissipates][New Scientist, April 1999, oct. 96

"But even if the Universe lives forever, its inhabitants will not be so lucky. A mere thousand billion years from now, all the stars will have used up their fuel and fizzled out. There will still be occasional flashes in the perpetual night: the death throes of stars so large that they have collapsed in on themselves to form black holes. Even these will eventually evaporate in a blast of radiation. For the next 10122 years, this Hawking radiation will be the only show in town. By then even the most massive black holes will evaporate, leaving the Universe with nothing to do for an unimaginable 10 to the power of 1026 years. Quantum theory then predicts that atoms of iron--the most stable of all elements--will undergo "tunnelling" and disappear into tiny black holes, which will themselves end in a final fizz of Hawking radiation. In the beginning there may have been light, but in the end, it seems, there will be nothing but darkness. ".[New Scientist April 1999]

Given infinite time and possibility all potentialities would have already come to fruition, the chain would have already been broken before our universe came into being. This just illustrates the impossibility of an infinite series of events. (being a series of events it would be "in time" so it's really redundant to say "an infinite series of events in time.") In other words, if this universe drifts apart because it lacks mass to produce omega, than the last universe would have too because energy and matter would be the same amount, just formulated differently (energy cannot be created or destroyed). The absurdity of the notion of an infinite series of big bang/crunches is driven home; how could there be an "infinite" series if one of the links in the chain can't make it? It can't "already be infinite" and then stop because infinite means no beginning and no end.

Note: If the Skeptic does not agree to this principle, that given infinite time every possibility comes to fruition than he can neither argue infinite chances nor multiple universes against the fine tuning argument.

d) Universe contains finite stock of order, connote be eternal (because it would have burned out by now)

*Scientific consensus:

Paul Davies, in his article, "Space-time Singularities and Cosmology," says,"If we extrapolate this prediction to its extreme,we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero. An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of space-time, through such an extremity. For this reason, most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe. On this view, the Big Bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the MATTER and ENERGY in the universe, but also of space-time itself."[ P. C. W.Davies, "Space-time Singularities in Cosmology," in The Study of Time III, ed. J. T. Fraser (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1978), pp. 78-79.]

* Laws of Physics break down at singularity

The laws of physics break down at the singularity. 1st Thermo. would apply after the Big Bang, then the fixed amount of energy that is "put in" to the universe (as Davies puts it) would be finite (in quantity) and subject to 1st and 2nd Thermo.

* 1 LTD applies to matter also. Thirdly, the 1st Law of Thermo. applies to matter ALSO. If you argue that energy is eternal, you've got to argue that matter is eternal, which goes against all the empirical evidence we have for the Big Bang.

* 2 LTD Energy burn to heat death

Fourthly, if you opt for 1st Thermo. before the Big Bang, try being consistent and applying 2nd Thermo. as well. If the energy (AND matter) of the universe is eternal, it would have reached MAXIMUM heat death an INFINITE amount of time ago.

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies, in his book God and the New Physics, states:

"If the universe has a finite stock of order, and is changing irreversibly towards disorder - ultimately to thermodynamic equilibrium - two very deep inferences follow immediately. The first is that the universe will eventually die, wallowing, as it were, in its own entropy. This is known among physicists as the 'heat death' of the universe. The second is that the universe cannot have existed forever, otherwise it would have reached its equilibrium end state an infinite time ago. Conclusion: the universe did not always exist."

If you deny that the universe has a finite stock of order, you are essentially denying the 1st law of thermodynamics, as it requires a fixed finite amount of matter and energy. (check your Encyc. Britannica)

In your wider universe, does the 1st law of Thermodynamics apply WITHOUT the second? What reversed the entropy of this eternally existent universe? As we saw above, a universe containing eternal matter and energy would have reached maximum entropy an INFINITE amount of time ago. What organizing principle intervened 11-15 billion years ago and organized all that energy and matter that was no longer available for work? What or who (or Who) wound the universe up?

Fifthly, we observe that the universe is expanding uniformly in all directions. Had the universe existed for an infinite period of time, the density of matter would have become zero. (Koons) How do you explain the observable expansion of the universe? We measure the recession velocity of distant galaxies by using Cepheid variables, type Ia supernovas, and now Red Clumps as standard candles. And the microwave background radiation and redshift (Doppler effect that skews the red portion of the spectrum of starlight in proportion to the distance of the star) confirm this expansion also. Furthermore, within the very field equations of General Relativity, is embedded the fact of the expansion and deceleration of the universe. There are now 19 proofs of General Relativity in 12 isolated areas of Physics,making it the most exhaustively proven principle. Are you saying that General Relativity does not apply to our universe as a whole?!! It is accurate to better than a trillionth of a percent precision. Where is your scientific evidence for A) separate portions of the universe which General Relativity does not describe B) separate universes? If its not falsifiable, and there's no evidence for it, then its just not a threat to the standard BB model as it is not scientific.

Since the oscillating universe is the only workable mechanism for ICR it's really a theory in trouble. The other alternatives such quantum tunneling require that the particles cause themselves (soemthing form nothing) then travel in time into he past to continually cause themselves again and again. The other answer is string membranes which is still unproved as something that even exists.

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