" Deduce the existence of something without using any existential premises."
"Why is there something rather than nothing"
They may be unanswerable, if that is what you are driving at. However, the answer might be ‘There is no alternative to there being something’. Which would explain why there is something quite nicely.
Consider an empty universe.
Does it have space or time? Tongue in cheek question really, but it's there because there is a relationship between space and time and 'things'. I mean what if the size of the universe is just the answer to 'what is the longest distance between two things?' I'm assuming you are making the first points not trying to make a cosmology argument.
However, in that spirit - can you prove an empty universe - ie., 'the state of nothing' - is possible? Can you disprove that there are some necessary entities? Because if they do exist then the explanation to their existence is that they are necessarily existent, which would disprove you. So for your proof to be a proof, it has to be able to rule out the alternatives that would disprove it.
It may be difficult to prove there are necessary entities, but it cannot be ruled out at this time, so maybe there is an explanation for the universe.
Well, for there to be necessary entities, a state where there were no entities would have to involve a contradiction in terms.
Exactly. Since we can explain contingent entities based on other contingent entities or on necessary entities, and we can explain necessary entities as they are necessary. It is therefore possible that the universe can be explained.
To prove that the universe 'Cannot Be Explained' therefore, means proving no necessary entities exist.
Imagine a world where there are only contingent entities. Since all entities are explained in terms of other entities, this implies either an infinite regression or a circularity of causation. Each of these explanatory entities, is necessary. A necessary entity contradicts the statement there are only contingent entities. Therefore there cannot be contingent only entities.
To show that necessarily something exists would be to demonstrate that there is a contradiction that can be derived from the statement "there are no things that exist". But how can there be a contradiction where there are no objects to form propositions about?
I don't know enough about the nature of reality or the nature of existence to tell you if a contradiction exists between these concepts and the concept of 'no thing existing'. But I don't need to since I'm only proposing that this needs to be established before the proof in the OP gets off the ground.
To give a completely off the wall example. Let us say that the nature of reality is 'entropy increases' then entropy is necessarily existent and the idea of 'no thing existing' goes wildly against the nature of reality.
Imagine a world were there were no entities. Then there would not be any contingent entities, so there would be no need of necessary entities to explain them.
Well that proves how things are in an imaginary world.
In this world however, there are some contingent entities. Either all entities are contingent, or only some are.
but in any case their necessity is in fact contingent.
I'm pretty sure all necessity is contingent. In this case it is on the nature of reality. Our reality. The nature of what is real, how something can exist. Does reality allow for there to be 'no things'? We know for sure it allows for 'some things', and argument could be made that rules out 'all things' as a possibility.
I said earlier that perhaps spacetime is defined by the existence of relationships between entities; if there is no spacetime type construct then we're talking about a place and time that necessarily don't exist in reality. Or maybe we're necessarily not talking about a place and time time that exists in reality. Well maybe, anyway. If spacetime is required for there to be a reality to consider and if spacetime is defined by the relationship between entities then we're in a situation where there must be entities in any reality that is possible.
Again, off the wall ideas maybe.
It is possible to say 'imagine a universe/world/reality with no entities' but are we actually imagining a universe at all? Is this just logic and grammar playing itself out or does it relate to reality in some fashion?
I see nowhere in nano's syllogism where he/she chooses to define these terms as anything other than the concrete basic terms as science would use them rather than some wishy-washy philosophical treatment where the terms differ in meaning depending on the particular philosophy of the philosopher attempting the definition.
Science is a particular philosophy. A philosophy that seeks to understand the ontology and epistemology of a certain metaphysical set. That is, it seeks to understand the entities that exist, the relationships between those entities, how we can have confidence in our beliefs/knowledge about those entities, within the 'natural world'.
If we are attempting to "explain the universe", as per the OP, then we must use the definitions for "cause" and "nothing" in the way QFT defines them since QFT is one of our present best theories for explaining the operations of this universe;
It struggles, however, in a situation which lacks a quantum field. It is true that in QFT there is no such thing as 'empty space', but that does not comment on 'emptiness' The state of their not being any space. Not-space is not covered in QFT.
If you want to say this is nonsense, that the minimal state of being involves a quantum field, then what you are specifically saying can be said without specificity as 'there is at least one entity that is necessary' and it turns out you were doing that 'wishy-washy' philosophy all along.
Go back to the argument between Dr Adequate and mentally replace 'necessary entities' with 'the quantum field' and 'nothing' as 'no quantum field', if you want to translate from specific claims, to more general ones.
Because once we thought atoms were necessary and eternal. The more we looked the more our minds changed. Since 'The quantum field is necessary' can only be phrased with tentativity, maybe the quantum field evolves from some other, necessary state, we can dispense with worrying about arguing over empirical details so that people with different opinions about the natural world can discuss the topic in a slightly less hostile environment complicated by side issues.
It is sufficient that empty space is not the universe, but can exist in the absence of the universe. Whether or not that was the actual state of affairs or not is irrelevant. If it is at least conceivable that a field fluctuation could occur in the absence of a universe, then it is conceivable that we can state exactly how the universe arose from that state. Whether or not QFT or string theory, or any other known science covers that possibility is also irrelevant.
And the idea falls down in cases where it is not conceivable.
Let's consider instead the possibility that the universe was created by an infinitely powerful being that exists outside of our universe. A description of that being using extra dimensional energy to create our own universe would be a complete explanation.
Per the rules of the OP, which includes 'multiverses', things outside of our universe is something that requires an explanation. We're including EVERYTHING, nothing exists (ahem, sorry everyone) outside of the scope. Further, the argument can basically boil down to 'if there is at least one necessary entity everything can be explained' which is the same argument being made by other people that you are identifying as 'flawed'.
I don't think one needs to prove an explanation. It just needs to explain. If it can be no other way that would explain the universe, would it not?
Can you prove it could be some other way?
If there is nothing, there is no possibility of there being something. Since we know there is a possibility of there being something *points around at some things* there is no possibility of there being nothing. There must be some thing(s) that necessarily exists in order for the statement 'it is possible that something exists' to be true. Since it is true, QED.
I was kinda looking for an explanation with a justification. I will concede that anything can be explained badly.
Well I don't know what or if there is an ultimate explanation, so it would be difficult to sincerely give it.
All I can say is that the explanation, should it exist, seems to me would be fundamental in some way. You seem to be defining 'explanation' to mean it must necessarily include reference to other entities, but this just assumes the conclusion to get there. If it isn't true then 'It can be no other way' seems to explain it perfectly in such a way as to end the line of query.
Well, the alternative seems to be logically consistent.
Yes, you've said.
Is it actually possible, though? You can't use logic alone to eliminate it - granted, but can logic and observation potentially shed light on the question? We are talking about our reality, not some 'logically possible' reality.
"If this is square, there is no possibility of it being triangular. Since we know that there is a possibility of it being triangular *counts its sides, of which there are three* there is no possibility of it being square."
If you are able to show a coherent account for the state of being where it is both possible for there to be something and where it is possible for there to be nothing you might be on to something. As far as I can tell, if it is possible to be anything, entities must give rise to that possibility, introducing the very things we were supposing may or may not be possible.
Granted, if all you want to do is tell me 'An empty set is not logically forbidden', then that's fine - it's 'innocuous but inconsequential' for this discussion, but I'm certainly not arguing that point.
We don't have to say that 'things can possibly exist' on the grounds that it isn't impossible. We can observe reality and realize we've already taken a step more than is needed. Maybe when we examine the universe in more depth we'll learn 'Actually 'it' could have been nothing, and there's no reason why 'it' isn't nothing'. Maybe we learn the opposite. Maybe we never learn.
There are no entities that logically could not not be, as long we are willing to sacrifice other entities. But are there any entities in reality that could not not be? I don't know of any, I'm not sure how we'd recognize if it was the case. I don't see how we can rule it out. The fine details of the universe certainly seem to run into tension with logic from time to time, maybe it's the last detail that breaks the camel's back
If there is some entity, the absence of which would result in an absence of everything. That that entity is necessary, given that we know there is not an absence of everything.
I mean, who isn't at least having fun trying to negotiate the grammar?