Cosmological arguments in general appeal to some version of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Rowe’s version of PSR is the following:
PSR. There must be an explanation for the existence of any being whatsoever, and there must be an explanation for every positive fact.
Now the cosmological argument is supposed to provide us with good reason for believing that there is a necessarily existing being whose existence–as what Rowe calls a ‘self-existent’ being– is explained by it’s necessity and which is the ultimate explanation for contingent events, states of affairs, etc. in the world. Peter Forrest’s ‘anthropic theism’ has me wondering why PSR requires that the ultimate explanation be a necessarily existing being. It would be interesting if there were another way to go. Peter does not consider the question, but why couldn’t PSR be satisfied by appeal to the intrinsic value of God, rather than the necessary existence of God?
So, my question concerns whether P is true.
P. If X exists and X is perfectly valuable, then X’s existence is sufficiently explained by the fact that X is perfectly valuable.
I do not mean to suggest that X could not fail to exist. It could, for sure, since X is a contingent being of a special sort. But were X to fail to exist, it would be less than perfectly valuable. How much value could a non-existent thing have? So, if you point to X, so to speak, and ask why X exists, I could completely answer your question by pointing out that X is perfectly valuable and noting P1.
P1. Necessarily, for all x, if x does not exist, then x is not perfectly valuable.
If X is perfectly valuable, then by universal instantiation on P1 and one application modus tollens on the strict conditional, we conclude that X must (wide scope) exist. Caution: P1 does not entail that there exist any perfectly valuable things at all. I’m happy to agree that in some worlds there are none (well, happy to agree for the sake of this discussion). But if we suppose that’s right, then it seems like we could have a cosmological argument whose ultimate explanation is a contingently existing, perfectly valuable thing. We could then explain the existence of other created objects in terms of moral value. In Forrest’s God without the Supernatural (sort of misleading title, as it happens), he argues that God creates the universe for moral reasons: because he is aware of the value of such a creation or as a spontaneous manifestation of God’s joy (cf. 45-56). These are steps in the direction of what might be called an axiological cosmological argument.