Our panel of 90 professional philosophers has responded to

63
 questions about 
Happiness
145
 questions about 
Sex
30
 questions about 
Sport
71
 questions about 
Death
191
 questions about 
Value
26
 questions about 
Gender
533
 questions about 
Philosophy
247
 questions about 
Language
30
 questions about 
Music
347
 questions about 
Religion
54
 questions about 
Truth
261
 questions about 
Mind
1169
 questions about 
Ethics
5
 questions about 
Euthanasia
74
 questions about 
Identity
21
 questions about 
Suicide
51
 questions about 
Punishment
72
 questions about 
Beauty
58
 questions about 
Abortion
69
 questions about 
Emotion
34
 questions about 
Race
118
 questions about 
Profession
35
 questions about 
Literature
42
 questions about 
Color
1
 questions about 
Culture
187
 questions about 
Science
65
 questions about 
Feminism
141
 questions about 
Freedom
122
 questions about 
Love
99
 questions about 
Biology
30
 questions about 
Space
109
 questions about 
Children
89
 questions about 
Time
21
 questions about 
History
248
 questions about 
Knowledge
124
 questions about 
Existence
223
 questions about 
Justice
100
 questions about 
Art
50
 questions about 
Medicine
82
 questions about 
Law
2
 questions about 
Action
102
 questions about 
Animals
45
 questions about 
War
66
 questions about 
Business
64
 questions about 
Perception
202
 questions about 
Education
74
 questions about 
Physics
317
 questions about 
Logic

QUESTION OF THE DAY

The Kalam Cosmological Argument has as its first premise "Everything that begins to exist has a cause" (at least in the form I've heard it). Often examples of "chairs" or "people" are given for things that began to exist. But this seems to be a category error - the Universe did not begin to exist in the same way that a chair does. Indeed a chair doesn't "begin to exist" in that it was created from other things. So to me it sounds like the argument overstates its case with "everything that begins to exist" since the only thing that has begun to exist is, well, everything. One could restate this premise as "The universe began to exist" could it not? Is I missing something or is this what is meant by this argument? If so it seems to be more of an assumption than the inductive reasoning I hear it being used as (e.g. "you've never seen a chair 'pop into existence' have you?").

I think you've put your finger on a dubious feature of the KCA. While I would say that a chair does begin to exist when it's created from pre-existing materials, I agree with you that if the universe began to exist, the universe didn't begin to exist in the same sense in which a chair does.

So I think you're right to detect a questionable move from "Everything within the universe that begins to exist has a cause" to "Everything, including the universe itself, that begins to exist has a cause." It's not at all clear that the phrase "begins to exist" is being used in the same way both times.

To the question "You've never seen a chair pop into existence, have you?" one can reply as follows: "I've never seen anything arising from pre-existing materials pop into existence, but that isn't relevant to whether something not arising from pre-existing materials can pop into existence."