Friday, 30 November 2007
Why is There a Universe AT ALL, Rather Than Just Nothing?
Adolf Grünbaum, University of Pittsburgh (HPS)
3:30 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Preamble: This lecture is based on the Presidential Address that I delivered on Thursday, August 9, 2007 at the 13th quadrennial International Congress of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science (DLMPS) of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science (IUHPS), held at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. I dedicated that Address explicitly to the memory of our beloved colleague Wesley C. Salmon, who was my dear friend for over 50 years. And I reaffirm that dedication on this occasion.
Abstract: The titular question of this presentation “Why is There a Universe AT ALL, Rather Than Just Nothing?” is a fusion of two successive queries posed by Leibniz in 1697 and 1714. He did so to lay the groundwork for his explanatory theistic answer.
My argument here is a sequel to my lengthy (54 page) 2004 article “The Poverty of Theistic Cosmology,” which appeared in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (vol. 55, pp. 561-614).
This lecture offers (i) A very unfavorable verdict from my critical scrutiny of the explanatory demand made by Leibniz, and (ii) My argument for the complete failure of his interrogative ontological challenge as a springboard for his and Richard Swinburne’s creationist theistic answer.
I argue under (i) that Leibniz’s explanatory demand is an ill-conceived non-starter which poses a pseudo issue. Thus, his and Swinburne’s case for divine creation miscarries altogether.
My collateral conclusion: The philosophical enterprise need not be burdened at all by Leibniz’s ontological query, because it is just a will-o’-the–wisp.