What determines metaphysical necessity?
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2011, 12:46:59 pm »
@TheQuestion

I find your responses to be weak and patronizing. Philosophers much greater than you have found no inherent contradiction in defining a being that is metaphysically necessary by its definition... or "de re."

Of course that is not to say that great philosophers haven't also made decent arguments for the incoherency of the idea of a necessarily existent being... but they made arguments, whereas you blithely dismiss such a thought as self-evidently ridiculous... which makes you neither smart, nor right.

I suggest you engage the argument, or go find another forum where pithy, unsubstantiated remarks are more appreciated... if such a forum necessarily exists.

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What determines metaphysical necessity?
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2011, 05:07:26 pm »
Posted originally by TheQuestion

This doesn't make sense.  If an entity doesn't exist, it doesn't have a nature.


You're assuming the non-existence of the entity in order to show it is impossible. This would be like objecting to the statement "Squares have four corners" by using the argument "If the square didn't have corners, then it wouldn't have corners."

You are essentially begging the question.

If an entity is said to be metaphysically necessary, de re (by definition)... non-existence cannot be assumed to disprove the argument, because you are assuming the hypothetical to be false in order to prove it is false.

What you CAN do is argue that a metaphysically necessary being is an incoherent idea which defies the laws of logic. That is a difficult case to make, but it is the only other option. In other words, you can argue that that a necessarily existent being is "logically impossible" but you cannot argue that a necessarily existent being may not exist (because that statement is self-contradictory).


Posted originally by TheQuestion

No, no they are not.  Mathematical axioms are in no respect similiar to the claim that a being exists.  


You are right on this. A mathematical axiom (or any axiom, for that matter) is by definition a self-evident truth. You cannot prove an axiom, because an axioms are too fundamentally basic to be proved. Rather axioms are those basic truths which we use to prove everything else.

However, you seem to be arguing that one cannot propose a hypothetical being that is metaphysically necessary, because by defining the being this way we have insured the conclusion of the argument to be that it must exist. But that is not the case.

A hypthetical being that is metaphysically necessary can be proved or disproved using logic. If such a being is logical, then it must exist. If it is illogical, then it cannot exist. However the third option is ruled out, in which such a being is logical and yet does not exist. The definition of the hypothetical being does not allow this conclusion.

The above paragraph is entirely provable using Alvin Platinga's modal axiom S5. The logical possibility of a metaphysically necessary being has not been proved, it is merely assumed for the sake of the argument. But if such a possibility were ever proved, then such a being's reality is logically inescapable. And likewise, if such a being were ever proved to be logically impossible, then the argument fails.

The above explanation proposes a hypothetical, which is then evaluated using established axiomatic proofs, just the same way that any acceptable mathematical theorem would be evaluated using mathematical axioms.

You may suggest reasons why a metaphysically necessary being is illogical, but if it is logically possible, then its existence is confirmed.

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What determines metaphysical necessity?
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2011, 05:20:58 pm »
@Jasondulle

To answer your initial post, there is no way to logically confirm that God is a metaphysically necessary being. There is certainly scripture that can be used to infer that God is such a being, but there is no logical proof for that conclusion.

Rather, when we argue for the hypothetical "maximally great" (necessarily existent) being, we simply recognize that the properties of such a being are identical to those of a god... and we make up our own minds as to who that God might be.

If necessarily existent being is real, then the term "God" is the most familiar term that can be applied to such a being. So while we can't prove that God is a necessarily existent being, if such a being is possible, it is reasonable assume that the being in question is probably God.