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Nihilism, metaphysical

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N119-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2005
Retrieved December 02, 2023, from

Article Summary

Metaphysical nihilism is an answer to the question ‘could there have been nothing?’ In recent analytic philosophy this tends to be interpreted as ‘could there have been no concrete objects?’ There are three ways of answering this question. The first is metaphysical nihilism, which answers in the affirmative: ‘there could have been nothing’. The second and third answers give negative replies. The second answer is based on the ontological argument for the existence of God. This argument leads us to claim that there is a necessarily existing object. If there is one object which must exist, then there could not have been nothing, there had to be this one object. The third answer also claims that there could not have been nothing but does not rely on the existence of a necessary object. This view is that whilst there had to be something, there is no one particular object which had to exist.

Citing this article:
Coggins, Geraldine. Nihilism, metaphysical, 2005, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N119-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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