Date of this Version
International Journal for Philosophy and Religion 11:2 (1980), pp. 111–122.
I propose to take a fresh look at the cosmological argument for God by focusing on one contemporary version defended by Richard Taylor in his book Metaphysics. I have selected Taylor’s argument, first, because of its wide circulation and influence on contemporary philosophers of religion, but more importantly, because it is a contemporary version of a classical argument and will enable me to evaluate traditional themes.
I find that Taylor, like many cosmologists, runs together two importantly different motivations for the cosmological argument—one which starts from a certain causal property of things in the world, another which emphasizes a logical property of these things. Accordingly, I will disentangle two distinct but recurrent patterns of argument by looking at specific texts in Taylor’s defense, and then evaluate them on their separate merits. Each of the arguments finds support in the validity of the cosmological question: “Why does the world, i.e., the totality of things, exist?” But each rests on a different interpretation of this perennial question. I will, finally, attempt to judge the validity of both interpretations by examining the logic, in nonproblematic contexts, of why-questions about the existence of things.