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Hausmann, Marco (2018): The consequence argument ungrounded. In: Synthese, Vol. 195, No. 11: pp. 4931-4950
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Abstract

Peter van Inwagen's original formulation of the Consequence Argument employed an inference rule (rule beta) that was shown to be invalid given van Inwagen's interpretation of the modal operators in the Consequence Argument (McKay and Johnson in Philos Top 24:113-122, 1996). In response, van Inwagen (Metaphysics. The big questions, Blackwell, Oxford, 2008a, Harv Rev Philos 22:16-30, 2015) recently suggested a revised interpretation of his modal operators. Following up on a debate between Blum (Dialectica 57:423-429, 2003) and Schnieder (Synthese 162:101-115, 2008), I analyze van Inwagen's revised interpretation in terms of explanatory notions and I argue that van Inwagen faces a dilemma: he either has to admit that beta entails fatalism, or he has to admit that a new counterexample invalidates beta. Either way, it seems reasonable to reject beta and to conclude that the Consequence Argument fails. Further, I argue that Widerker's (Analysis 47:37-41, 1987) well-known substitute for rule beta is faced with a similar dilemma and, therefore, is bound to fail as well. I conclude that, if the modal operators are interpreted in terms of explanatory notions, neither van Inwagen's nor Widerker's rule of inference turns out to be valid.