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The Contingency Argument of Leibniz states that if the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God. This introduces metaphysics. But could the fundamental fabric of spacetime exist by the necessity of its own nature?

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    Perhaps it could exist without explanation?
    – Scott Rowe
    Nov 17, 2023 at 12:49
  • Yes. That is correct.
    – Meanach
    Nov 17, 2023 at 13:44
  • Not explanation. Necessity.
    – Meanach
    Nov 17, 2023 at 13:46
  • More than the universe?
    – Meanach
    Nov 18, 2023 at 12:49

3 Answers 3

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Yes, it can be. If it can be imagined, it may be possible. If God is posited to be necessary, why can’t the universe?

One can say that only eternal things like God can be posited to be necessary and not the universe which has a beginning. Two responses to this are in order. First, there is no reason to think that only eternal things can be necessary. For one, it is easy to imagine the universe being necessary.

Second, even if only eternal things could be posited to be necessary, one can simply assume the universe, in some way, is eternal. If one points to science indicating the universe had a beginning, one can simply posit that some natural intentionless “stuff” existed before the Big Bang or timelessly or whatever else. Of course, these are just postulations. But so is God.

No matter how the picture of causal reality turns out, there is no need to posit God. It doesn’t explain anything better than a natural or godless theory.

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  • There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding here of what theologians mean when they posit "necessary existence", hence the confusion regarding the relationship between eternality and necessity. The Christan usage of "necessary" was directly derived from the Muslim theologians' and philosophers' concept of "wajib al-wujud" ('the obligatory existence'). The idea is simple, it is an existence such that its non-existence is a contradiction, resulting in either a sempiternal or eternal entity. Of course, one might dismiss it as a superfluous conjecture, but that is a different conversation.
    – Max Maxman
    Nov 18, 2023 at 0:53
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From the possible-worlds standpoint, this question might be taken as off-key: no world itself exists "in" any, much less all, other possible worlds, so either the necessity/contingency distinction doesn't apply to worlds-as-wholes themselves,W or it applies in some other way (for various and related issues, see Forster[??]). But then in fact the existence/nonexistence distinction won't apply normally, or at all, to entire worlds, either: an interesting rejoinder to, "Why does the world exist?" "It doesn't! But it doesn't quite fail to exist either; or for worlds, there is no difference between existing and not existing as such." So we might talk about worlds as "hypernecessary."

Note that there are ways to paraphrase things, here, though: "This world is necessary," could be taken for, "The structure of this particular world is common to all possible worlds," for example. E.g. we might hold that this world's laws of physics are necessary, and so then are the laws of all worlds' physics, etc.

If we countenance the destruction of worlds-as-wholes, then we might have a sense of necessity as "incapable of being destroyed," although how a pure spacetime manifold could contain an event of destructiveness that applied to the whole manifold in a way that isn't "self-defeating" is difficult if not incredible to think through (for the destructive event would "generate its own field of activity," which would again be spatiotemporal, yet then if the destructiveness turned upon itself, wouldn't the destruction of the destruction of time mean the rebirth of time?).


WIf we think of this matter from the perspective of Lewisian counterpart theory, perhaps we could say that each world-as-a-whole is a counterpart of every other world, so that worlds are necessary for having counterparts in, or as, every other possible world.


Addendum

A response each for each of two of the comments:

  1. Asking for scientific evidence of other possible worlds would mean, on pain of inconsistency, asking for scientific evidence of the necessity of a world too. But how are we to go about scientifically finding out that this world is necessary, for example?

  2. Lest one think that there is a conflation of doxastic and metaphysical possibility at work in the above analysis, the preceding reasoning is primarily metaphysical, not just doxastic, so it is hard to see that levels of possibility are being incorrectly conflated (there is some overlap because there must be some overlap in order for doxastic possibility to be rightly called by the name of possibility in the first place, and because our understanding of these matters is much a priori, not so much empirical in the usual way; but the topic is such that we might as well not worry about necessity at all if we aren't going to accept a priori evidence).

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    Someone in another world was thinking about this world, and poof! It comes in to existence. Works both directions. Be careful what you wish for...
    – Scott Rowe
    Nov 17, 2023 at 13:42
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    @thinkingman if there is only one possible world, then there is no reason to introduce talk of possible worlds. I don't say this quite as an objection to your comments, though, but merely as illustrative of a trade-off we would have to make if we tried to cash out modality-talk in this way (for anti-modality theory, see e.g. Quine). Nov 17, 2023 at 15:38
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    I don’t think there’s anything in possible worlds theory that suggests that you cannot have just one possible world. You can still contrast a formulation with just one possible world with another formulation that has many. That may be where talk of possible worlds becomes useful. It is merely a syllogism to describe what one means by necessary and contingent.
    – user62907
    Nov 17, 2023 at 15:41
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    Yes, to say that there is only one possible world would make it necessary. This was the point of my original comment and a way in which one can still use the original possible worlds formulation to describe this universe being necessary.
    – user62907
    Nov 17, 2023 at 16:03
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    @KristianBerry I think now you’re just confusing metaphysical and doxastically possible worlds. From a metaphysical standpoint, there is nothing absurd about the entire universe being necessary which translates into one and only one possible world. It is called a brute necessity
    – user62907
    Nov 17, 2023 at 21:17
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At the risk of being boring, my question is in the context of the one universe standpoint. In my view, many worlds are like metaphysics - unnecessary clutter. Panpsychism proposes that the fundamental stuff of the universe is matter-consciousness. The moment of initiation was when the conscious universe decided to exist. It found it necessary.

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