Validity and Soundness in the First Way

Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 79 (1-2):137-158 (2023)
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Abstract

This article critically examines the structure and implications of the argument in ST 1, Q2, A3, associated with Aquinas’ First Way. Our central endeavor is to discern whether a certain disambiguation of point 6 (“There is something that is not moving/changing that moves/changes other things”) can be logically inferred from points 1-5. Through a three-part proof, the article establishes that under specific conditions, it can indeed be inferred. However, this interpretation notably diverges from Aquinas’ intended conclusion and subsequent stronger interpretations of the claim. The paper also engages in discussions surrounding the soundness of the argument, assessing the plausibility of its premises in light of physics and logical analysis. The contribution does not seek to speculate on Aquinas’ understanding or to dismiss his perspective but rather to delineate what follows from his First Way premises, highlighting discrepancies with contemporary views on the nature of existence, particularly the notion of God.

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Graham Oppy
Monash University

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