Clarke's CA

Clarke's Cosmological Argument:
sub argument against ICR


This argument is made by Samuel Clarke (1675 - 1729) an Enblish Clergyman and Philosopher. He was the first to modernize the Cosmological argument, his version of it was defended by William Rowe. Rowe didn't agree that the argument proves its conclusion because the Principle of Sufficient Reason can't be proved. But, he also argued that it is a plausible principle. See a journal article in Journal of Philosophy of Religion by Clement Dore).

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Samuel Clarke
A Modern Formulation of the Cosmological Argument


(1) All beings are either dependent (that is take their cause form some higher thing upon which they depend) or otherwise they are independent. 

(2) the chain of dependent being we know must either 

     (a) have been caused by some being whose existence does not result from some prior cause (i.e., an independent being) or

      (b) be part of an infinite succession of dependent beings.
(3) The whole requires an explanation; the whole succession must be dependent upon an independent being or the explanation is just put off a step back but not answered.

Clarke takes a slightly different tack from Aquinas in his formulation of the Cosmological Argument. Like Aquinas, Clarke proffers the premise that the beings we encounter have causes. Unlike Aquinas, Clarke makes a distinction between dependent and independent (or necessary) beings. On this account, beings that owe their existence to some cause are dependent; otherwise they are independent. Clarke points out that the chain of dependent beings we know by experience must either (a) have been caused by some being whose existence does not result from some prior cause (i.e., an independent being) or (b) be part of an infinite succession of dependent beings. That is, on Clarke's account (a) beginning with an independent being and (b) being part of an infinite series exhaust the logically possible origins for any succession of beings.

Now, if all successions of dependent beings must either be infinite or begin with an independent being, Clarke might simply claim that there is no such thing as an infinite succession, thereby demonstrating the existence of an independent, necessary being. While he does call the notion of an infinite succession "absurd," he takes a subtler route arguing for an independent being. Clarke points out that the whole series of dependent beings requires an explanation. That is, since every part of the series is dependent, it appears that the whole series considered as a single entity is a dependent being. However, upon what is the series dependent? This criticism becomes clearer if one considers the entire set of dependent beings as part of one long succession, each being dependent on some prior being for its existence. The whole series appears itself to be a dependent being. However, if we have included all the dependent beings in the series, there is no dependent being to which we can attribute the series' existence. Thus, according to Clarke, there must exist a necessary being to account for the existence of the series itself.

My version:

(1) All contingent things have causes
(2) All contingencies require necessity to ground them.
(3) All natural things are contingent
(4) the universe is natural, therefore, the universe is contingent
(5) Therefore, the universe requires a necessity upon which its existence is grounded.