Strong and weak regress arguments

Jan Willem Wieland

Abstract


In the literature, regress arguments often take one of two different forms: either they conclude that a given solution fails to solve any problem of a certain kind (the strong conclusion), or they conclude that a given solution fails to solve all problems of a certain kind (the weaker conclusion). This gives rise to a logical problem: do regresses entail the strong or the weaker conclusion, or none? In this paper I demonstrate that regress arguments can in fact take both forms, and clearly set out the logical difference between them. Throughout the paper, I confine myself to metaphysical examples from the early Russell. Only now that we know they are valid can we start to discuss whether they are sound.

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