I'm trying my best to understand Della Rocca's article "PSR", which I believe convincingly shows that that one cannot reasonably hold that some facts are brute while others are not without a specific reason for drawing the line somewhere. My example below is a heuristic simplification of his main argument, which I think draws out the main intuition, and I'd like to know if there are any good responses to this argument:

A brute fact is a contingent fact with no further reason as to why that contingent fact is true. Suppose I were to ask you:

"What percentage of contingent facts are brute?"

If you were to answer with a percentage above 0%, and you maintain that this percentage being above 0% is simply a brute fact itself, then you run into a conundrum: By your own admission, there exists a brute fact (that the true percentage is in fact above 0%). But by you maintaining that there exists a brute fact, you've provided a reason for the percentage to be set above 0%. Hence it is contradictory that the percentage being above 0% can itself be a brute fact.

In other words, somebody who maintains that some facts are brute while others are not should be able to give clear reason why Fact X is brute whereas Fact Y is not. If we were to apply this standard, say, to the existence of the universe itself, then it seems that the burden of proof lies on the individual who maintains that the existence of the universe is a brute fact. "It just is" simply does not work.

  • "brute facts" are simply facts that we (humans) are not able to find an explanation/cause according to some agreed theory. Feb 16, 2022 at 15:51
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    The set of "contingent facts" and the set of "brute facts" are both infinite. This means the question, "What percentage of contingent facts are brute?" is mathematically ill-defined. There isn't a single "natural" way to define the ratio between two infinite sets. There are multiple (actually, infinite) options for how to define this ratio, but the core problem is that the two sets have the same cardinality (both infinite), and are in that sense the "same size."
    – causative
    Feb 16, 2022 at 17:44
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    It is odd that you find this argument convincing. Even aside from the meaningless use of "percentages", in your presentation, at least, it is a transparent case of line drawing fallacy. Just because there is no bright line between heaps and non-heaps does not mean that heaps do not exist.
    – Conifold
    Feb 16, 2022 at 20:34
  • I just had it out with proponents that brute facts cannot exist, and the definition is in that post: An argument against brute physical facts (PhilSE). And your use of percentages does appear to be false precision.
    – J D
    Feb 16, 2022 at 21:09
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    Your above cooked answer is essentially an affirmation of the existence of brute facts which cannot efficiently cause any physical facts not to mention brute facts (assuming their existence under such a POV), thus it cannot not a reason for the existence of brute facts. Re your "somebody who maintains that some facts are brute while others are not should be able to give clear reason..." which is implicitly based on the premise of PSR, but the stake of debate here is just PSR vs not-PSR, so you beg the question. Of course there's nothing illogical if you just favor PSR or its weak versions... Feb 16, 2022 at 23:47


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