, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 531–559 | Cite as

Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing? A Logical Investigation

  • Jan Heylen
Original Research


From Leibniz to Krauss philosophers and scientists have raised the question as to why there is something rather than nothing (henceforth, the Question). Why-questions request a type of explanation and this is often thought to include a deductive component. With classical logic in the background only trivial answers are forthcoming. With free logics in the background, be they of the negative, positive or neutral variety, only question-begging answers are to be expected. The same conclusion is reached for the modal version of the Question, namely ‘Why is there something contingent rather than nothing contingent?’ (except that possibility of answers with neutral free logic in the background is not explored). The categorial version of the Question, namely ‘Why is there something concrete rather than nothing concrete?’, is also discussed. The conclusion is reached that deductive explanations are question-begging, whether one works with classical logic or positive or negative free logic. I also look skeptically at the prospects of giving causal-counterfactual or probabilistic answers to the Question, although the discussion of the options is less comprehensive and the conclusions are more tentative. The meta-question, viz. ‘Should we not stop asking the Question’, is accordingly tentatively answered affirmatively.


Classical Logic Axiom Scheme Categorial Question Probabilistic Answer Modal Question 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Logic and Analytic Philosophy, Institute of PhilosophyKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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