– It was pointed out that most arguments from contingency rely on some version of the principle of sufficient reason. This is broadly true.
– Broadly (again), the PSR can be boiled down to the idea that for every true proposition, there is a sufficient reason for its truth. A somewhat different interpretation:
‘The principle holds that nothing takes place without a reason; for any occurrence, a being with sufficient knowledge would be able to give a reason sufficient to explain why it is as it is and not otherwise.’ (‘ Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion, p. 299)
– So, basically, it’s concerned with contingent states of affairs – why this, and not that kind of thinking. That’s pretty obvious – if it is the case that an occurrence could have been otherwise, it’s contingent. That’s pretty much the definition of contingent.
– It appears that, at first glance, the PSR stumbles when it comes to things like necessary truths. If the PSR applies to contingent propositions/events, what about necessary ones (I realize I’m mixing propositions/events, but you get the idea)? Or even the PSR itself? Is it just a brute fact? Put another way, why accept the PSR?
– Leibniz held that for necessary truths/propositions, their negation is a contradiction – and that this was the sufficient reason .
– Perhaps as a law of thought or a law of logic, rather than an existential ontological theory, it’s more solid. As an ontological theory it basically ends up being a causal argument – everything that begins to exist has a cause. This has the curious property of being a tautology, though – of something begins to exist, then by definition it has a cause. So it seems that it’s trivially true, which isn’t terribly helpful.
– But as a logical law, it seems better. It is the case that for every true proposition, there is a reason why it’s true makes more sense and is a bit less tautological. If something is true, then there is an explanation as to why it is true.