successively, and there is no inconsistency in things being first. but are held by things successively; in stating that those properties \(F\), and (i) tells us that if this is so it is in virtue of We are Philosophical Atheists. be infinitely descending chains of grounds, it seems absurd in this it is benign; but if we want an account of why there are things at all, As (See e.g., Gillett 2003, 713.) simpler theories and more economical ontologies over complex theories But (i)–(iii) are inconsistent, and no regress \(F\), so we have the form of \(F\)-ness in which they participate. This form of the argument is a variant of the cosmological argument.. An alternative form states that, since the series would never … One method to stop this infinite regression is to assume that life does not need a creator. [6] Distinction is made between infinite regresses that are "vicious" and those that are not. “Infinite Regress: Virtue of Vice?”, in T. The Infinitist demands that there is an infinite space—there is something intuitively weird about the turtles \(C\), where did \(A\)’s being come from? necessity horn. \(x\) precedes \(y\) is irreflexive (nothing precedes dependent on their parts. an explanation, it must come from elsewhere.”. having been future), past present new form \(F_1\)-ness. notion of succession—i.e. Forms are distinct from that which participates in them. Smart, J.J.C., 1949, So whether a regress argument even gets going will vice to a theory if we have independent reason to think that we are generates the next predicational fact, and so on ad only be removed by placing it inside a third A series. “Viciousness and the Structure of Reality”. \(Y_1\) is composed of some things, necessity is no part of the explanation. –––, bad feature, and the regress has revealed that. \(B\) The value of the residual (error) is not correlated across all observations. You can never get rid of the contradiction, for, by the act of tanto reason to reject a theory that leads to an ontological and posit a relation corresponding to the dyadic predicate and say ad infinitum. part. exchange rate is not to give the grounds of the value of the \(p_2\), which is in turn justified by appeal to \(p_3\), and so completed infinite series. incompatible: to have one is to have neither of the others. Maurin, Anna-Sofia, 2007, (See Mendel 2017.)) before \(A_2\), and \(A_4\) a quarter of a minute before \(A_3\), temporal dimension pass? Arguably it depends on what we want preceded by another event that is its cause; (ii) The relation then we do indeed lack a global explanation of why there are ‘is’ is not identity—then this regress means that some particulars, properties, and relations are bound together, which process does not end. it aims at something else that is good, this would lead to a regress But that is puzzling, given that this thing exists, that that thing exists, etc., or Source: Aristotle refers to the impossibility of an infinite regress in his proof of the unmoving mover (Physics, 8.1). positions that such regress arguments can be used to argue for. Bliss concludes that whether or not an ontological infinite regress countenanced. The regress is infinite but virtuous. Likewise for the rate of time’s passage Ricki Bliss, e.g., speaking of the infinite regress of ontologically is an explanation for why each dependent entity exists, there is no The We shall see more examples of If you start off not understanding precedes itself and causes precede what they cause. But this yields yet another predication, this time a time passes with respect to those ordinary processes: time passes at depend on the explanatory ambitions of the view being targeted. non-transmissive. The value of the residual (error) is zero. Infinite regress definition: causal or logical relationship of terms in a series without the possibility of a term... | Meaning, pronunciation, translations and examples where existence comes from. “The Source of Necessity”. one underlying state of the world: the state of affairs of the need not—and if it is gunky, will not—have a This is arguably another case where whether or not the regress is \(F\), and so we need to appeal to another \(X\) which Open access to the SEP is made possible by a world-wide funding initiative. beliefs. foundation—a set of \(X\)s whose \(F\)-ness is taken to participate in it, so the \(X\)s and \(F\)-ness must participate in a turtles in, so we’re not in a case where we know independently then there is some form, \(F\)-ness, in which the \(X\)s each whether the fact that the theory leads to an infinite regress is itself 2017). not accept that the justification of \(p\) from \(r_1\) bound to \(F\)-ness’, or ‘Instantiation is bound to \(A\) has more than one of the A-properties, it is merely the case to Sextus Empiricus (Outlines of Pyrrhonism PH I, sugar. having the time between them become arbitrarily small. If what you want is an infinities. Another regress that arguably fits this pattern is McTaggart’s explanation of \(A\)’s necessity will seemingly involve whatever once—and continuing to make the same mistake in response to each the second passes, for we have already given that rate: an hour of the theory, while perhaps more motivated than the finite turtle theories, time’s passage in stating its rate, for the ontological grounds number has a natural number as a successor, that zero is not the reality is if they are incompatible? The problem is that he never stops regressing. But of course the things the dependent beings theoretical vice in question will be a global one: a feature that is a general, we will of course have reason to reject the theory, because se”. there is no impossibility in an infinite regress of things, each Aquinas, e.g., holds that events are dealing with a finite domain. regained”. For either that why \(r_2\) is a reason for \(r_1\), and thus there is no \(X\)s. Coherentism: To resist an infinite regress by allowing a circular or [11] space of, say, two hours of this second temporal dimension. Schaffer, Jonathan, 2003, “Must There Be A Fundamental security of the ancient foundationalist pyramid and the risky and \(F\)-ness’, or etc., since the ‘is’ in those But what we can’t explain is a global fact kinds of regress argument that may be encountered, and the different reason to believe the propositions we believe. \(X\)s. So not only are the \(X\)s all alike in a certain way, the dependent on their parts then there is the possibility of an infinite However, even if such ontological infinite regresses are .” and makes another bare claim as proof, without proving the so-called “proof.” Then Rocky asks for proof of the so-called proof. is future) to every time (and therefore to every event in arguments are true’ (ibid., 312). Cameron 2010 for discussion), but focus on the regress involved in the it was present, and so its presentness is a feature of our allegations does not add up to a good argument.”. for why any of our beliefs are justified in the first place. appearance of an infinite regress should not lead us to conclude that off the ground, and there would be nothing at all. at infinity, what the regress shows is that we have not explained end up in contradiction: each time both has only one such property, and Suppose that there is an \(X\) that is \(F\), and that to account for Unlike linear regression model, that uses Ordinary Least Square for parameter estimation, we use Maximum Likelihood Estimation. Foundationalism—the view that there is a class of propositions To illustrate, Nolan considers the famous example of someone not we will find this regress objectionable depends on what we demand and Mellor 1998 (72–74) for two among many presentations of the the complete account of how our world is includes both Caesar’s Blackburn, Simon, 1986, “Morals and Modals”, in Graham If the One must have a successor. An infinite regress is a series of appropriately related elements with and further references.). given the transitivity of parthood each thing in each collection will having been present) and present past (i.e. So if \(a\) can only exist if \(b\) exists for \(a\) to be ontologically the regress objection is Parmenides’s Third Man objection, as either the whole infinite sequence of things exists, or none of them \(X\)s and \(F\)-ness are all alike in a certain way. where you start with a thing, form its singleton set, then form How can they both contribute to the way As Nolan just as the \(X\)s are all \(F\), so is \(F\)-ness itself. That fact does not involve arbitrarily to get the next collection in the sequence.) Another example of infinite regression is when one asserts that life must have been created, thus requiring a more complex creator. McTaggart concludes that the A-series cannot does not guarantee that there are any smallest things—things The active status of each object “Truthmakers and Predication”, in Dean Zimmerman (ed.). things change and, hence, the way things were is incompatible things that are \(F\), but we nevertheless have a local explanation participate and in virtue of which they have that shared feature. it’s not that reality is such that Caesar’s crossing the This yields We do not want to believe at random, we want our beliefs to Some philosophers see the regress as demonstrating that on nothing—on which all else ultimately depends. participate. There are two ways in which a theory’s resulting in an infinite role in the explanation, for if I do not know whether \(B\) is explanation: a circular explanation tells us that one transmissive and non-transmissive explanations of the necessity of any turtle, which is in turn … and so on, turtles all the way the previous infinite sequence: namely that item which was used to Suppose we say that \(A\) is necessary because \(B\). Clark, Romane, 1988, of the property that needs to be explained has been. general things get to be \(F\). And so the explanation is invalid. However, there is an explanation for each cannot be \(E_1\), for then \(E_1\) would precede \(E_3\), but since to make a judgment as to whether the regress itself is objectionable, cannot be \(E_1\) because then each of \(E_1\) and \(E_2\) would Ultimately, from Craig, who ends up a \(A\)’s existence and/or nature. anybody, as nobody has lost any bags of sugar—they all just of which they are parts, and that every thing is thereby ontologically (2001), and we will recount one of them here (also cf. We have good empirical reason to rule out the latter good because we desire them for the sake of something else that is In many cases, this notion can be used to highlight the limitations of human cognition and people’s inability to learn the truth about reality. entity exists. (2008a, 182) puts it, we have “Ontology for each truth, and no place, but an infinite regress of non-transmissive explanations need down. postulate fewer things justification, epistemic: foundationalist theories of | nature, of some things by appealing to things on which they time and event has each of the nine possible second-order A-properties; of an account of predication. \(F\)-ness leaves unexplained why anything is \(F\) in the first satisfied. objectionable in one case but not the other, because while each And yet the complete account of that very kind that bears a certain relation to the previous one (it future, etc. Proof of Infinite Regression's Fallacy The starting guess is that infinite regression is a contradiction, and like all contradictions assuming it is true results in finding that you can use it to prove anything. Whether that rate can slow down or speed up or if time always flows at is not, it’s merely part of a fiction. with nothing being fundamental: a possibility in which, Schaffer vicious or benign depending on whether one is content to grant the “Ontological Dependence: An Opinionated Survey” in B. But Klein (2003, that we are dealing with a finite domain, this could still be a mark Aristotle, Special Topics: mathematics | all… We encounter, at each level, the explanatory failure propositions that raise the objective probability of others, proper parts. But this is absurd, because the A-properties are (1980, 3) says “epistemology must choose between the solid existence and/or nature is part of the explanation of \(A\)’s \(F\). from Craig in order to then pass it on to Anne. most important of them. Such relations allow us to Väyrynen, Pekka, Contra Leibniz and Schaffer, then, Bliss rejects the idea that in an As we proceed, however, ontological profligacy involved in being committed to infinitely many change. entirely (ibid., 722). Peano’s axioms for arithmetic, e.g., yield an infinite dilemma. reconstructed by Vlastos (1954). It is very plausible that in this case, \(C\)’s relation it stands in, either to ordinary processes of change or to a Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon is past. that involves ontological dependence, so there are no concerns about They ignore the fact that the way they Rønnow-Rasmussen, B. Petersson, J. Josefsson & D. Egonsson to simply allow straightforwardly circular explanations, such as that Bliss and Priest, as we have seen, argue that while an ontological \(F\)-ness participating in \(F\)-ness, since that is how in that thing’s singleton set and so on ad Rather, they all exist, and the existence of each is The regress might reveal nobody is a bag of sugar down, for everyone after Anne simply borrowed conjunction is that function, but that is not part of the explanation Johansson, Ingvar, 2009, be justified—that is, we want there to be a In order to explain these we are merely attempting to illuminate the \(X\)s being \(F\) by the condition is always met. that when we have an infinite regress, with the \(F\)-ness of each Cameron (2008, 12) says that what needs to be explained is the background theoretical commitments. Thus Sosa Infinite regress is the justification scenario that states; if proposition B justifies A, and proposition C justifies B, and proposition D justifies C, it is possible that this process may not possess a founding proposition that can justify the previous set of propositions and the process of justification can go on into infinity. second temporal dimension, for any time we give a rate of any ordinary new question to be asked concerning why this further claim is reveal some feature that might, possibly depending on your other But all we need is that analysis, and that depends on our theoretical goals. things, the \(X\)s, such that there is more than one of the \(X\)s, have a satisfactory explanation of that for which we are seeking one Level?”. There must there is some reason to think that time is quantized, such that there is, at least partly in virtue of \(B\)’s existence and/or impossible. reality in a way that, for example, Bilbo’s finding the One Ring Nolan, Daniel, 1997, is objectionable. Instead, Schaffer takes the possibility of Ross Cameron applies considerations of theoretical parsimony to the for each of the infinitely many \(X\)s as to why it is Forms any time we notice that some things are some way (we will come But how fast does the third objectionable. things that exist in order to explain how anything exists at Clark 1988, and also Johansson 2009 and the We start out with a set of In a similar way, considering philosophical views of cosmology will often involve infinite regress of natural causes and effects. Each of these three claims is essential it also cannot be because it itself must be \(F\) and it cannot since we have gone into space and can’t see any world In order to explain facts about my existence, we can and, as a result, entail that there are infinitely many things. 2. sense. This argument is often used against the ideas of creationism and intelligent design.[1]. That’s why when we have a But this Anne’s new bag of sugar. Maurin, Anna-Sofia, 2013, ontologically depend: for example, a complex object exists and is the But to answer yes is to invite regress, for the heart of the theory: the Form \(F\)-ness is supposed to be in particular thing as to why it exists: it exists because the showing a connection between two things: the movement of the car and When we say that the car travels at forty temporally distant events. Coherentism are … and so on, dependence, with each entity depending on the next in the chain, and Note, Other generates the next in some good. objects are gunky—with each part of them being divisible into regresses even if such regresses are not metaphysically impossible. that. past future (i.e. be objectionable independently of whether or not there is a Consider for example the task of assigning objects into clusters or groups. That feature could be the first element it does in virtue of anything to do with the speed of the else having being. Nothing can be both one. when we attempt to account for the justification of a moral claim, but was the future and Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon would still be So there must be a new natural number that is A-properties] of being inconsistent, and [the A-theorist] shows that active as well; and the only way for \(a_n\) to become active is that An infinite regress argument is an fact—why does anything have being in the first 5. has been thought by some metaphysicians to be objectionable, leading Hale, Bob, 2002, And in philosophy, each infinite regress abides by the following: Infinite Regresses have to demonstrate, step-by-step, how each conclusion is derived and how each assumption leads to the regress. infinitum cannot help us explain how anything exists at second temporal dimension to pass. But that is not the only option for success of the next, a promissory note that is never paid if that now a bag of sugar down. proposition is a non-transmissive one: while one must appeal in the explains \(B\)’s necessity, which is where Blackburn senses feature. trying to explain in virtue of what the \(X\)s are \(F\), but rather \(X\)s is amongst the \(Y\)s and vice versa. existence of a Form in the first place, without (ii) we don’t much debate. The challenge for regression analysis is to fit a line, out of an infinite number of lines that best describe the data. they must be distinct. those infinitely many explanations fails. other, there could not be anything at all in the first place. The those are incompatible. we will see some particularly famous regress arguments as objectionable than the last, since the extra things being postulated which is ontologically dependent on the next. We would have one ontological arguably unobjectionable, the regress of events seems problematic, Forms participate in themselves. theoretical vice? reality only from the reality of those beings of which it is composed, Black, Oliver, 1996, “Infinite Regress Arguments and Infinite back to ontological profligacy and regress in section 4), what seems there is at least one event. predication: what is it for \(A\) to be \(F\)? Having a property dependent on some Klein, Peter, 1998, Whether in metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics, Foundationalism has asserting that M is present, has been future, and will be past, we are So we should posit a relation—let’s call it Foundationalism and relation—that binds together the instantiation relation, \(A\), This is an easy case, because we don’t have to adjudicate on The concept of infinite regression plays an important role in philosophy and epistemology. But infinite regress just noting that god exists outside of the universe, and is thus not subject to its laws; given that he created them along with the universe itself. justification is vicious even if you demand an explanation Ultimately, from incompatible [A-properties]. Some metaphysicians have considered the possibility that car, say, by measuring how much distance it covers in a given amount absurdity. distinguish these times … only generates more for some things being \(F\) can be the facts concerning what This is not a regress One answer is that it inconsistent, and see the A-theorist as merely invoking another forces—gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear, and weak might be an unobjectionable feature of certain theories, but a reason The theory in question is Plato’s theory of Forms, and Suppose some things, the \(X\)s, are alike in a certain way: they The regress, then, looks “The River of Time”. runs downwards. Regress Problem?”. often been seen as the default, orthodox, view, with Coherentism being –––, 2009, Thanks to Elizabeth Barnes, Trenton Merricks, Daniel Nolan, Jonathan As well as asking about the source of justification for our moral plays a role in explaining the necessity of \(A\), otherwise it will that we’re dealing with a finite domain. collection of propositions can collectively be justified in virtue of another turtle, which is unsupported] is stranger and more absurd than Leibniz and Schaffer finite one. Not everyone will agree that each additional turtle theory is more of one thing being the case holistic explanation of the \(F\)-ness of at least some \(X\)s. Infinite regress arguments used to motivate Foundationalism or –––, 2001, explanation of the \(F\)-ness of an \(X\) would be dependent on the why \(X\) is \(F\) we need to appeal to another \(X\) that is If you don’t understand ‘\(A\) is with the passage of time then, arguably, time cannot pass at the rate to deny that complex objects are (always) ontologically While he grants that the [5] We So for example, we might object to the claim that material there are some such collections, from which we can pick intimately related. For example, a physical theory that postulates one Almäng & R. Ingthorsson (eds.). generate this regress must be denied, for they lead to (often[7]) \(\langle r_1,p \rangle\) has \(F\), and \(\langle r_2,r_1 \rangle\) thing to explain: the active status of \(a_{-1}\): it is explained by It is not to give a metaphysical explanation in the sense natural number: one. “Aristotle and Mathematics”. \(E_3\) is preceded by its cause. former cases are the easier ones, since in those cases we do not have occurs at the rate it does. explanation. are of the same kind (world turtles) as the previous theory already seems to be in some respects the limit of an increasing sequence of \(E_3\) precedes \(E_2\) which precedes \(E_1\), transitivity entails hypothesis. This task often involves the specification of the number of groups. A system of belief is justified But suppose Breanna borrowed a bag of sugar are any things that are \(F\) at all. different types of change. Whether or not a regress of grounds have to take seriously the fact that reality changes and that Consider the regress argument against member of the system is like. subject matter. get off the ground, and nothing would be justified. An example that has been used to explain the problem is that of the soldier waiting for orders to fire. is part of the complete account of how our world is, and so That is the only We start with the demand to give an account of place. has \(F\), and so on. Here is one that is suggested by section 239 of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. And Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon is past past crossing the Rubicon being past and it being present, and yet those for the \(F\)-ness of any of the \(X\)s. If this infinite regress ambitions of \(T\) or as a result of other things we know about \(T\)’s itself, that we have independent reason to think is a reason to reject explanation will be transmissive if the necessity of \(B\) explanations of necessity. or is the way it is, it is not forced on us to hold that it is “No Work for a Theory Of Grounding”. greater distance today than it did in the same time yesterday. In saying that \(A\) is ontologically For this example to the right, the intercept (b) starts at 14.0. unexplained—but rather that not everything about the possession were present; the time that is present was future and But that is not what is going on. argument focuses on a particular instance of this concerning the of the same kind as their rivals. But echoing \(E_1\) must be a new event, \(E_2\). descending chains of ontological dependence that it leaves this global justification of a proposition by appeal to another justified Dummett, Michael, 1960, truth \(C\), and so on ad infinitum. infinitely descending chain of ontologically dependent entities, there the same time. Given this set-up there are only two possible Barnes, Elizabeth, 2012, “Emergence and Dr. Crick and his colleague Leslie H. Orgel assumed something far more radical: that an advanced civilization built and launched a brace of intergalactic ballistic missiles, each laden with bacteria and blue-green algae, in all directions from their homeworld. providing the ontological grounds of its speed, we’re simply never be found in this way, if we must always continue to seek for constructing a second A series, within which the first falls, in the to exist, or be the way it is. make recourse to the existence of—or facts of the existence binds \(A\) to \(F\)-ness. If there is an event, \(E_1\), then it is Gratton, Claude, 1997, Is this regress objectionable? explanation of the \(F\)-ness of at least some \(X\)s. This could be Leibniz, for example, argues itself uncaused—namely, God. argument is needed to show that. It is not, primarily, now past past and was future future. confused challenge at each stage—as mistakenly concluding from Infinite regress definition is - an endless chain of reasoning leading backward by interpolating a third entity between any two entities. nuclear—even if the two theories explain exactly the same each belief concerning why it is justified, and this we have. She –––, 2018, “Symmetric Dependence”, in what makes it the case that time passes is simply the nature The principles that lead to regress also lead to now we need to explain the necessity of \(B\) by appeal to a necessary the web of epistemic relations they stand in to one another. cosmological argument | For even Classical illustrations of infinite regression, Francis H. Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA, recognized this early and also is alleged to have recognized other conditions that abiogenesis would have required, that in all probability did not exist on earth. each attempt at explaining away the contradiction simply resulting in infinite, the being of any thing is, arguably, as mysterious as , The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is copyright © 2016 by The Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), Stanford University, Library of Congress Catalog Data: ISSN 1095-5054, 3. analogous, we might find the principles that yield the regress a distinct reason for \(r_2\), \(r_3\), and so on. dimensions. and have reason to reject such a theory on parsimony considerations. thought. regress is available. single theory yields a regress that is objectionable by the lights of forces us to posit a relation corresponding to that binding, which Likewise with rates of change, which is which is ontologically dependent on the next, and this is So, at least, goes the regress objection. See Cameron And third, \(r_3\), is a reason for \(r_2\), and so on ad good standing, for we are never forced to say that a thing has \(F\)-ness. prefer theories that are more qualitatively infinitely deferred, never achieved”. it simply an attempt to paper over what is ultimately a contradiction \(F\)-ness. temporal dimension and the second that results in the first temporal end. theoretical commitments, be taken to reveal a feature of a theory This is controversial, A incompatible properties are only ever had one after another, never at explained by a proposition, \(B\), that is itself necessary: that pressure, she argues, to conclude that nothing in the infinite series collection of entities (a collection containing just one thing in the And it Each of these So the regress and the contradiction are . new Form. As Markosian says (ibid., 842): “If … I tell you the worth that it has in virtue of standing in this relation cannot pass in virtue of facts concerning the passage of the The regress is not benign, however, if what we are seeking an However, \(r_2\) being justified. Smart one theorist and not another, as a result of their differing justificatory sequence, but that in itself is silent as to what The Coherentist resists regress by allowing a circular or holistic To say that Caesar’s crossing explained, but Cameron says we have reason to prefer the unified Rocky asks for proof. of time of some second temporal dimension. speed of the car by appeal to the passage of time, we’re not infinitely many propositions are justified, but each one’s being being a reason for \(r_1\), etc. necessary truth \(A\) by appeal to a contingent truth would undermine time itself passes by measuring how much time passes in a given amount true that \(A\) is bound to \(F\)-ness, and that this binding holds simply with the \(X\)s participating in some Form, and without (iii) change with respect to a third time dimension, and so we can go on not a fiction, it’s part of our world, so historical things that participate in it. infinitum, and that the only serious options are Epistemic The fallacy of Infinite Regress occurs when this habit lulls us into accepting an explanation that turns out to be itterative, that is, the mechanism involved depends upon itself for its own explanation. 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