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Old 01-15-2014, 02:23 PM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InChiefsHell View Post
Indeed it has.

I'm curious though, if we can't observe something and then come up with a conclusion that would be deemed logical, then...can you give me an example of a logical thought or argument?

I've always thought of logic as using the information you have and applying it. If we can't apply that to the entirety of the universe which we've never seen or ever will see, we can only apply it to what we know. And what we know logically points to a first cause. Can logic point to infinite regress?
The question puts logic in a difficult spot. It's not really completely possible to deduce this very simply to form one logical statement.

Here's some thought to chew on...

Quote:
Logic itself has very little to say about time, or about infinite chains of consequences, either extending forwards or backwards. Indeed, it has nothing at all to say. Logic is merely a tool which we use to investigate topics, but anything it has to say on the subject are from premisses which we supply. So what is logically possible depends on the premises we adopt.

Obviously, if we assume that there cannot be infinite regresses, we will conclude that infinite regresses are impossible; and if we assume that everything must have a cause, then infinite regress is necessary. Boldly asserting our assumptions is not a form of logical deduction, however. So we must try to avoid doing so if we wish to consider logical possibility or necessity.

We can observe that the two statements everything must have a cause, and that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes are in apparent conflict with one another. There is one possible resolution: a cycle of causes, where A ⇒ B ⇒ C ⇒ A, and the like, including potentially complicated networks of mutual-causation. If you find this just as dissatisfying as an infinite regress of causes or an uncaused event, then you may wish to assume that such cycles cannot exist: but then you should remain aware that this is an assumption on your part.

There is absolutely no proposition A that we know of, which "causes" another proposition B to hold that is, where A ⇒ B which prevents us from considering yet another proposition Z such that Z ⇒ A, and where we may regard A as true because Z is true. So every proposition can be conceived of as being caused by another. But there is nothing which forces us to formulate such a proposition Z, either. We must move beyond mere sentential logic if we wish to plumb this idea further.


The Principle of Sufficient Cause is very much in sympathy with determinism; but of course assuming that the world is deterministic does not prevent us from entertaining the idea of a further cause to any particular cause that we might like to imagine so more physical assumptions beyond mere determinism would be necessary to make the notion of determinism useful.

Consider an "actual infinity" of regress that is, where one may not only posit a preceding cause for any cause, but actually entertain a completed chain of causes. One might try to argue that an actual infinity of anything (logical causes or otherwise) is absurd; and while this was an active debate in philosophy of mathematics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the consensus is heavily in favour of actual infinities; a simple rejection of actual infinities is not likely to be convincing to others. But even if you only admit potential infinities of causes, you still have a potentially-infinite-regress, where the only reason why you don't entertain a cause for some early event is because you get caught up in doing something else instead. (The tendancy for us to do so is a possible reason why the idea of a first cause is so popular in the first place.)

The fact that there may, or may not be, a largest infinity which describes an infinite regress, is more ambivalent. Few people are terribly concerned about the subject so far as I can tell. However, the fact that one could always posit "a larger infinity", a la Cantor, is no rebuttal against an actual infinity of causes (despite the fact that this is in effect what Aristotle does for his Prime Mover): there is also nothing preventing someone from positing a cause for what otherwise would appear to be a Prime Mover. Whether one prefers a system of reason in which largest possible cardinalities exist, or do not, is a matter of taste; this is an impasse for the debate.

If you are of a religious persuasion and in particular, a creationist then it will seem quite natural to posit that there is a first cause. Suffice it to say that there are many people who will find your arguments unconvincing, if for no other reason than the fact that they do not agree to the assumptions included in your religious background.

I am unaware of any particularly compelling ideas or for that matter, any particularly interesting ideas which would decide in favour either of infinite regress, or in favour of the impossibility of infinite regress, as logical necessities. As far as I can tell, both the notion of a first cause and the notion of an infinite causal regress are logically coherent except if you in essence assume that one of them is false.
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