Kant begins his criticism as follows: If, in an identical proposition, we reject the predicate while retaining the subject, contradiction results; and I therefore say that the former belongs necessarily to the latter. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world. Plantinga is unconvinced that the ontological argument is unsound and develops his own version of the argument that might well be more powerful than Anselm’s original. We can see this by noting that the defining properties of the concept bachelor are included among those of superbachelor; it is a necessary truth, therefore, that every superbachelor is a bachelor. Nonetheless, it seems to have a bad smell about it. God doesn’t just happen to be a greatest possible being; He couldn’t have been otherwise. And what it says is this: take any possible being x and any possible world W. If x does not exist in W, then there is a possible world W’ where x has a degree of greatness that surpasses the greatness that it has in W. And hence to make the argument complete perhaps we should add the affirmation that God is a possible being. Step (21′) points to the worlds in which this being has its maximal greatness; and it says, quite properly, that the degree of greatness this being has in those worlds is nowhere excelled. If that did follow, then the reductio would be complete and the argument successful. They try to gain objective meaning from an entirely subjective word, and fail because of it. Kant’s point, then, is that one cannot define things into existence because existence is not a real property or predicate in the explained sense. Attempts have also been made to validate Anselm’s proof using an automated theorem prover. God is by definition the greatest conceivable being. If I want to prove that bachelors, unicorns, or viruses exist, it is not enough just to reflect on the concepts. But God is the greatest conceivable being, so definitionally we cannot conceive of anything greater than God 5. For those who are unfamiliar, the modal ontological argument goes as follows: 1. What Anselm means to be suggesting, I think, is that Raquel Welch enjoys very little greatness in those worlds in which she does not exist. [12] The heart of Kant’s objection to the ontological argument, however, is contained in the following passage: “Being” is obviously not a real predicate; that is, it is not a concept of something which could be added to the concept of a thing. Alvin Plantinga is one of the greatest living Christian philosophers. And what reasons are there for supposing that there are any such peculiar items at all? Here, Plantinga attempted to use the philosophical concept of possible worlds to show the necessary nature of God's existence. The third theistic argument I wish to discuss is the famous “ontological argument” first formulated by Anselm of Canterbury in the eleventh century. Now according to the doctrine under consideration, A is so far greater than B. If, in an identical proposition, we reject the predicate while retaining the subject, … Does that so much as make sense? Once more, use the term “God” to abbreviate the phrase “the being than which it is not possible that there be a greater.” Now suppose. Alvin Plantinga famously defends a version of the ontological argument that makes use of the notion of possible worlds. What is their status? If, among the possible beings, there is one whose greatness in some world or other is absolutely maximal — such that no being in any world has a degree of greatness surpassing it — then indeed there couldn’t be a being that was greater than that. I will try to show below that even with the expunction of this ontologically questionable entity, Plantinga's final, revised argument fails. Why not? Now if a person can have different properties in different worlds, the he can have different degrees of greatness in different worlds. There is a certain kind of mistake here we may be tempted to make. Indeed, the concepts bachelor and superbachelor are equivalent in the following sense: it is impossible that there exists an object to which one but not the other of these two concepts applies. And the answer must be, I think, that it does not. Unfortunately, however, we have no reason, so far, for thinking that (21”) is true at all, let alone necessarily true. The premise corresponding to (25) then says simply that maximal greatness is possibly instantiated, i.e., that. If its existence is rejected, we reject the thing itself with all its predicates; and no question of contradiction can then arise. Ontological Argument - Development - Alvin Plantinga. Plantinga developed his modal version of the ontological argument for the existence of God in his two controversial books, The Nature of Necessity [1974: ch. I would ask the reader to … Say, further, that an entity possesses“maximal greatness” if and only if it possesses maximalexcellence in every possible world—that is, if and only if it isnecessarily existent and necessarily maximally excellent. (28) A being has maximal excellence in a given world only if it has omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection in that world. I think it would be best used as a companion to a text book and as a revision aid. We might try to define a new concept superbachelor by adding existence to P1 ,…,Pn. He contrasted the ontological argument (literally any argument “concerned with being”) with the cosmological and physio-theoretical arguments.According to the Kantian view, ontological arguments are those founded on a priorireasoning. What would contradict a proposition like God does not exist is some other proposition — God does exist, for example. Ontology refers to the study of being, so the ontological argument claims that because God is the kind of being who must exist, therefore, he does exist.Most arguments for God’s existence start from something we observe in the world that logically infer God as the cause of these observable effects (e.g. [50] I am inclined to think the supposition that there are such things — things that are possible but don’t in fact exist — is either unintelligible or necessarily false. As is readily evident, each version of the ontological argument rests on the assumption that the concept of God, as it is described in the argument, is self-consistent. So read, (21) does contradict (20). Either Kant was confused or else he expressed himself very badly indeed. Plantinga progressed through a number of versions of his ontological argument. That is, (16) follows from (14) only with the help of the additional premise that God is a being. Step (18) speaks of a possible being — a thing that may not in fact exist, but could exist. I said above that the same being may have different degrees of greatness in different worlds; in which world does the possible being in question have the degree of greatness in question? Try. The Ontological Argument, ed. There is no omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect being. Plantinga is one of the most respected and influential philosophers today. 1.1 Anselm's; 1.2 Gödel's; 1.3 Plantinga's; 1.4 Craig's; 2 Responders; 3 Problems. There is nothing outside it that would then be contradicted, since the necessity of the thing is not supposed to be derived from anything external; nor is there anything internal that would be contradicted, since in rejecting the thing itself we have at the same time rejected all its internal properties. In the actual world I am writing up this blog post, but I could have decided instead to go pour myself a Scotch. It has it in some world or other but not necessarily in Kronos, the actual world. How could there be a being greater than the being than which it’s not possible that there be a greater? The Ontological Argument: From St. Anselm to Contemporary Philosophers Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1965 by Alvin Plantinga (Editor), Richard Taylor (Introduction) 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 ratings See all formats and editions x is a superbachelor if and only if x has P1 – Pn, and x exists. would have been an impossible proposition. And suppose that A exists in every other possible world as well — that is, if any other possible world has been actual, A would have existed. But if we say “There is no God,” neither the omnipotence nor any other of its predicates is given; they are one and all rejected together with the subject, and there is therefore not the least contradiction in such a judgment…. Want to Read. For instead of speaking of possible beings and the worlds in which they do or don’t exist, we can speak of properties and the worlds in which they do or don’t have instances, are or are not instantiated or exemplified. Of all the arguments for the existence of God, this argument is perhaps the most controversial and confusing, but when understood correctly, Alvin Plantinga’s ontological argument is perhaps one of the strongest arguments in academia for the existence of God. Kant seems to think that if the proposition in question were necessarily false, it would have to contradict, not a proposition, but some object external to God — or else contradict some internal part or aspect or property of God. A possible being is a thing that exists in some possible world or other; a thing x for which there is a world W, such that if W had been actual, x would have existed. But this doesn’t mean that the present version of the ontological argument must be rejected. [18] But of course this is a mistake, and perhaps that is Kant’s point. Books . In defining a concept — bachelor, let’s say, or prime number — one lists a number of properties that are severally necessary and jointly sufficient for the concept’s applying to something. He examined each in succession, discarding them as he proceeded while repairing the weaknesses of each until he arrived at what, he claimed, is the final triumphant version. [17] Then (as we might mistakenly suppose) just as it is a necessary truth that bachelors are unmarried, so it is a necessary truth that superbachelors exist. Propositions which thus ascribe a modality — possibility, necessity, contingency — to another proposition are themselves either necessarily true or necessarily false. But what is a possible being? [(17)], (19) Hence it’s possible that there be a being greater than God is. The fact that this version is unsatisfactory does not show that every version is or must be. It uses modal logic, which if you have read Article 02: The Cosmological Argument you will already be familiar with. Still, it is evident, I think, that there is nothing contrary to reason or irrational in accepting this premise. 10] and God, Freedom and Evil [1975: part 2 c]. I shall, in the course of this paper, talk of the instantiation of properties in particular ways (or forms) on particular occasions. [39] But of course there are many other versions; one of the argument’s chief features is its many-sided diversity. But clearly many such propositions do contradict God does not exist; an example would be the world was created by God. That is, had W’ been actual, there would have been a being with maximal greatness. Kant’s Objection. On Plantinga's Ontological Argument. [7] An interesting feature of this argument is that all of its premises are necessarily true if true at all. The only question of interest, it seems to me, is whether its main premise — that maximal greatness is possibly instantiated — is true. We can ask the same or nearly the same question by asking about the range of the quantifiers — “for any being,” “for any world — in (14). As soon as it was published there was an uproar in nearly every philosophy department the world over. Well, if we say, for example, that God does not exist, then says Kant, “There is nothing outside it (i.e., God) that would then be contradicted, since the necessity of the thing is not supposed to be derived from anything external; nor is there anything internal that would be contradicted, since in rejecting the thing itself we have at the same time rejected all its internal properties.”. (People sometimes suggest that the ontological argument is just such an attempt to define God into existence.) A bachelor could exist is there another such possible mountain three miles east of the additional premise that God a. Expunction of this argument is ( 11 ) published his modal ontological argument: Plantinga, Alvin 9780333019184. Century philosopher Leibniz ' idea of `` possible worlds it does n't, though ) the very definition of 's. 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