The Russel / Coppleston 1947 Radio Debate

Flashcards by jessnrm98, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by jessnrm98 over 4 years ago


Flashcards, revise on what was said during the radio debate - important for quotes to remember and their stance on the radio debate regarding Aquinas' cosmological argument to the existence of God.

Resource summary

Question Answer
What had both agreed on at the beginning of the debate? That the term God, they both recognise to be a "Supreme being - distinct from the world and creator of the world."
What positions do both philosophers take? Russell takes an agnostic viewpoint whilst Coppleston supports the cosmological argument to clarify the existence of God.
Coppleston on the Argument from Contingency (Premise 1). He states that there some beings that "do no contain in themselves the reason for existence." E.g he "depends on his parents" and many other factors to sustain his existence.
Coppleston on the Argument from Contingency (Premise 2). He believes the world to be made up of multiple things that do not have a reason for existence within themselves; "aggregate of individual objects - none of which contain the reason within...for existence" / "totality of objects therefore must have a reason external to itself."
Coppleston on the Argument from Contingency (Premise 3). He rejects infinite regression. "...but if we proceed to infinity... then there's no explanation for existence at all." Similar to the stance of Gottfried Liebnez Principle of Sufficient Reason.
Coppleston on the argument fro Contingency (Premise 4). The necessity of an existing Supreme Being; "in order to explain existence... we come to a being which contains within itself the reason for its own existence." This being is therefore God - who rely on his necessity.
On the term Necessary Existence, Bertrand Russell. He suggests that the term "necessary" is only applicable to "analytic propositions" - something self-contradictory to deny. God being a synthetic statement - that is his necessity must be explained by external proofs - the necessity of God is devalued.
In response to Russell's view on Necessity of God, Frederick Coppleston. The existence of a contingent being must be explained by the existence of a necessary one and vie versa; "... there is a contingent being, it follows the necessity that there is a necessary being."
Bertrand Russell's comparison of Coppleston view on, "God being the cause of the world." with Classical Ontological Argument. Coppleston firmly holds the view that there must be a cause of existence of to to the world, and of course this is God. However - Russell sees this statement as a proof that can neither be proven nor disproven - similar to Anselm's belief that if God exists In Intellectu, then he must also exist In Re; "the existent round-square as a proposition would look like an analytical proposition - but is in fact ceases to exist." The essence of God's existence cannot be served as a proof.
Coppleston on Sufficient Reason. Coppleston begins with the sufficient reason view by exemplifying that if essence and existence are neither identical in the explanation for God, then "sufficient reason must be beyond" Him. / He also explains it to be a way to identify God as a "Cause for himself" - going back to the idea of a necessary existence, a totally self-dependent omnipotent being. It is a rejection of the possibility of Infinite Regression.
Russell's finalising viewpoint. "The universe is just there and that is all."
Coppleston's finalising viewpoint, on phenomenal cause. To use the idea that the "totality of the Human Race does not exactly infer that it is a mother" is an unsufficient reason - and thus God cannot be explained with phenomenal causes, but transcendental causes.
Overall stance of Coppleston. Throughout the debate, he remains standing with the fact that by observing the world we can infer the series of cause and effect, contingency leading to the idea of necessity, and necessity and sufficient reason must be a way to explain the existence of God. The reason must be transcendental and God a sufficient reason for Himself.
Overall stance of Russell. The fact that Coppleston uses faulty logical processes, and that only analytical statements can infer a necessary God, and challenges the notion that existence and essence shouldn't be used to explain the existence of God - for it is illogical.
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