Can Existence and Nomicity Devolve from Axiological Principles?

Norman Swartz


[0] In The Riddle of Existence (1984), Nicholas Rescher tries to answer the question "Why is there anything?" by arguing that existence is necessitated by protolaws and that protolaws, in turn, maximize self-validating `cosmic' values. Both stages of the argument are open to objection. Not only does positing protolaws require a powerful `existence principle', like every weaker theory of nomicity it reverses the semantic truth-making relation. But even if the first stage were not exceptionally problematic, the second stage of the argument is irreparable. For no principle which is logically powerful enough to account for the existence of protolaws can contain the descriptive terms of such laws, have the requisite degree of specificity, and be self-validating.