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Q. Explain Humes’ criticisms of the cosmological argument (25 marks) The cosmological argument is based on the principle of causation. In particular, it is put forward that any existent thing must have a cause or reason for its existence and that there cannot be more in the effect than there is in the cause. Hume challenges these assumptions in his Dialogues. There are three main critiques that Hume makes of the argument. Firstly, he has general concerns about the way it is structured, and believes that this structure is fallacious. Secondly, he has more specific concerns related to causation and finally he raises challenges to do with the concepts of contingency and necessity. Hume’s challenges to the structure of the cosmological…show more content…
So the term ‘necessary being’ makes no sense, any being claimed to exist may or may not exist. In Hume’s own words “All existential propositions are synthetic.” Q. To what extent was Hume successful in his critique of the cosmological argument? (10 marks) Hume makes some very important challenges to the Cosmological argument. One of the key areas he questions is the argument’s dependence upon what Leibniz named, the principle of sufficient reason. In this principle an adequate explanation must be a total explanation. The universe requires an explanation of itself as a whole but many would say, as Russell later told Copleston: “Then I can only say that you’re looking for something which can’t be got, and which one ought not to expect to get.” Also if we are only entitled to talk about causes when we have had experience of them, then this argument would seem to be over-stretching itself in speculating upon what it cannot know. On the other hand, there is of course a problem with stopping at a certain point and saying that we should seek no further explanation, in that it is a basic presupposition of all scientific work. However, even though a principle of rationality is that we can find an explanation for things, there is no guarantee that there will be one. So, I think Hume significantly weakens forms of the argument that depend on the principle of sufficient reason. However, I think that Hume’s criticisms of a necessary being

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