Thompson, Naomi (2010)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
In this dissertation I suggest an answer to the famous question ‘why is there something rather than nothing?’ I argue that there is something because there could not have been nothing. The focus of my discussion is the empty possible world of metaphysical nihilism, and the first chapter is a rejection of the only prominent argument for that position; the subtraction argument. In the second part of my discussion I construct a positive argument against metaphysical nihilism, I assume, as is common in the literature, that inconceivability provides evidence of impossibility. I establish the inconceivability of nothingness taking propositional imagining to be the core of conceivability, claiming that we have no experience of nothingness in the relevant sense and are unable to imagine it. Finally, I suggest that a distinction should be made between everyday use of the term ‘nothing’, and the sense under discussion here. The inconceivability of nothingness applies only in the latter case. Given that nothingness is inconceivable, we have prima facie reason to suppose that the empty world is impossible. I conclude that given the failure of the subtraction argument and in light of my argument against metaphysical nihilism, that position should be rejected.
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