Hume and Edwards on 'Why is there Something Rather than Nothing?'

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 62 (4):355–362 (1984)
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Suppose that five minutes ago, to our astonishment, a healthy, full-grown duck suddenly popped into existence on the table in front of us. Suppose further that there was no first time at which the duck existed but rather a last time, T, at which it had yet to exist. Then for each time t at which the duck has existed, there is an explanation of why the duck existed at t: there was a time t’ earlier than t but later than T such that the duck existed at t’, and it was only to be expected that a healthy duck would survive the brief period from t’ to t. But would these explanations remove the mystery? Taken collectively, would they explain why the duck has existed since T rather than never having existed at all? Presumably not. But if not, this seems to discredit the style of explanation offered by Hume and Edwards for the infinite regress they hypothesize of causes and effects.

Author's Profile

Michael B. Burke
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis


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