The Principle of Sufficient Reason Defended: There Is No Conjunction of All Contingently True Propositions
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Toward the end of his classic treatise An Essay on Free Will, Peter van Inwagen offers a modal argument against the Principle of Sufficient Reason which he argues shows that the principle “collapses all modal distinctions.” In this paper, a critical flaw in this argument is shown to lie in van Inwagen’s beginning assumption that there is such a thing as the conjunction of all contingently true propositions. This is shown to follow from Cantor’s theorem and a property of conjunction with respect to contingent propositions. Given the failure of this assumption, van Inwagen’s argument against the Principle of Sufficient Reason cannot succeed, at least not without the addition of some remarkable and previously unacknowledged qualifications.
KeywordsPrinciple of sufficient reason Free will Cantor’s theorem Propositions Modality
- Van Inwagen, P. (1983). An Essay on Free Will. Oxford: Claredon Press.Google Scholar