SnoopDoug wrote: 1. It is necessarily the case that some entity exists. (Premise)2. There is a possible state of affairs at which nothing contingent exists. (Premise)It may be argued from these two premises alone that:3. Therefore, a necessary entity exists. (From 1 and 2)Assume (4): a necessary entity does not exist. The conjunction (4) and (2) implies: (5) there is a possible state of affairs at which nothing at all exists. After all, (4) asserts that the only entities that exist are contingent entities. However, (5) contradicts (1). Therefore, it is false that a necessary entity does not exist (by modus tollens). By negation, it follows that a necessary entity exists.This reductio ad absurdum is logically valid, but are premises (1) and (2) true? (1) is a denial of the possibility of ontological nihilism. It might be argued that a state of affairs at which nothing exists is self-contradictory, for then we are talking about an existing state of affairs.
(2) seems obviously true. There is no apparent contradiction with the idea of nothing contingent existing. Moreover, this seems to be a case in which the whole is like its parts. Given that every contingent entity possibly fails to exist, it is only appropriate to conclude that the sum total of contingent entities possibly fails to exist.
Of course, the ontological argument sketched above may only demonstrate the existence of a necessary abstract object.
The atheist who adopts Platonism will be happy to accept the conclusion that a necessary entity exists, with the only caveat being that the necessary entity in question is an abstract object, as opposed to a concrete object.
It appears to me at least that if this particular ontological argument is sound, then the debate should turn to the nature of abstract objects. Are abstract objects mind-independent entities (Platonism), or are they more akin to divine ideas, e.g. thoughts in the mind of God (conceptualism)?
belorg wrote: (2) Does not follow if we treat nothingness as a state of affairs. Because if there is something contingent, then the state of nothingness does not exist and if that something contingent does not exist, then the contingent state of nothingness does exist.So, there is no possible state of affairs at which nothing contingent exists.
belorg wrote: It may also demonstrate the existence of a necessary concrete object other than God.
belorg wrote: Nowhere does your argument show that the necessary entity in question is an abstract object, Snoopdoug.
If this particular ontological argument is sound, then the debate is about what exactly the necessary entity is. There are lots of different 'concrete' entities, so there is no need, for the time being, to narrow the debate down to the nature of abstract objects.
SnoopDoug wrote: Thanks for the reply, belorg.The argument does commit us to states of affairs as entities. For the nominalist, especially the one who espouses fictionalism, states of affairs do not exist at all. I'm thinking more in terms of realism than nominalism. I was taking a form of realism for granted when I posted the OP. Since you ask, though, I would say that states of affairs are indispensable on any correspondence theory of truth. Now, if something possesses the attribute of indispensability, then it must exist. For, non-existent entities cannot possess any attributes whatsoever.
I do think the whole is like its parts in this case. For the person who insists that nothing necessary exists, but some contingent entity or other must exist, we end up with all kinds of implausible results. Would the non-existence of all non-unicorns imply that a unicorn exists? Surely not.
As I said above, this leads to all kinds of absurd conclusions.
It's not as if nothingness is the entity being described.
Rather, it the state of affairs describing nothingness, and more specifically, the non-existence of contingent entities.
Once an elementary particle begins to exist, the state of affairs concerning that particle changes, but from this it doesn't follow that there is no necessary state of affairs.
For example, "it is necessarily the case that some state of affairs is actualized." This state of affairs describing contingent states of affairs would be a necessary entity (again, assuming realism).
It's difficult for me to think of a state of affairs as anything other than an abstract object, but you're technically correct.
SnoopDoug wrote: I don't think I'm in danger of Russell's paradox. I'm not talking about the set of all sets, or anything like that. I'm simply saying that it is necessarily the case that some state of affairs or other is instantiated. This necessity, albeit an abstract object, doesn't need to have a set of its set or anything like that. The regress ends with the necessity of some state of affairs being instantiated.By the way, I agree that some contingent state of affairs must be instantiated. This is obviously of a much different breed than, "some concrete contingent entity or other must exist," but I realize you're not making that claim. What I'm getting at is that while there must be some contingent state of affairs, that doesn't do away with there being a necessary state of affairs.Just to clarify, premise (2) only states that there is a possible state of affairs at which no concrete contingent entity exists. I should have included that qualification from the start.
SnoopDoug wrote: Take a look at some nominalists', especially fictionalists', work. They deny the existence of abstract objects.
I don't take your criticism personally, by the way. However, whether something, anything at all, is necessary, isn't just a trivial matter.It may be obvious to you and me, but obviousness isn't the same as triviality.
Now, when it comes to God's existence, I mentioned earlier that the argument can be used as part of the conceptualist argument. You see, if abstract objects exist and have necessary existence, then the question is whether they are mind-independent or conceptual in nature.
If they are conceptual, as I propose they are, then they cannot be the concepts of just any mind.
For there are possible worlds in which you and I (contingent minds) do not exist.
Rather, they would have to be concepts of a necessary mind, which has significant theistic implications.
I think there might be a misunderstanding here. I call the argument modest because I'm making a very very minimal claim. Tes, I know why you call it modest.Something necessary, abstract or concrete, exists. That's all I'm arguing. OK, but that is trivially true and does not add much to the discussion.Whether abstract objects exist, and whether they are divine ideas is interesting, but beyond the purview of the original post. I would just assume that people would naturally associate states of affairs as abstract.I do not think that a concrete state of affairs like, e.g. 'a universe' or ' a God'' is abstract.By the way, I agree that God's mind would be a concrete entity. In fact, a large part of the ontology I adopt is that a concrete necessary mind is needed to ground abstract objects in order to make sense of how abstract objects are known by any concrete minds. Yes, but God's mind is a concrete state of affairs, so why would anyone associate this with an abstract state of affairs? Your argument shows that some kind of entity is necessary, now, you have this kind of entity, namely, God's concrete mind, but then you cannot go on claiming that your argument also shows the neceesary existence of abstract entities, because it doesn't. Granted, I haven't offered an argument for this, but I figure I at least owe you an explanation. You don't have to offer an argument for conceptualism, because that's beyond the scope of this thread. If you ever want to start a thread on the conceptualist argument, however, you can expect a few replies from me, because I see lots of problems with it.
Something necessary, abstract or concrete, exists. That's all I'm arguing.
Whether abstract objects exist, and whether they are divine ideas is interesting, but beyond the purview of the original post. I would just assume that people would naturally associate states of affairs as abstract.
By the way, I agree that God's mind would be a concrete entity. In fact, a large part of the ontology I adopt is that a concrete necessary mind is needed to ground abstract objects in order to make sense of how abstract objects are known by any concrete minds.
Granted, I haven't offered an argument for this, but I figure I at least owe you an explanation.
SnoopDoug wrote: I don't know what it means to call a state of affairs "concrete." I agree that God and the universe are concrete, but it doesn't make any sense to me to call these things "states of affairs." States of affairs are about concrete objects. I never set out to demonstrate the existence of a necessary abstract object, just something necessary. Besides, I've already explained why I think this is non-trivial, but I regress.
belorg wrote: 'The universe is a concrete entity', this is about a concrete entity. Now, in what way does 'the universe is a concrete entity' differ from 'the universe exist?'
Something that exists is in a state, in the case of the universe a concrete state, in tyhe case of the number 2, an abstract state.
SnoopDoug wrote: Quote from: belorg 'The universe is a concrete entity', this is about a concrete entity. Now, in what way does 'the universe is a concrete entity' differ from 'the universe exist?' As with the propositional content of any statement, it depends on the meaning of the words used in these distinct statements. "The universe is a concrete entity" does not necessarily imply that the universe exists. "A unicorn is a concrete entity" is a true proposition, but surely that doesn't commit us to any claim about the ontological status of unicorns.
'The universe is a concrete entity', this is about a concrete entity. Now, in what way does 'the universe is a concrete entity' differ from 'the universe exist?'
I don't think 'a unicorn is a concrete entity' is a true proposition, but never mind.
Absolutely, but that doesn't have any bearing on the nature of states themselves. It might help if we talk about propositions instead. "The universe exists" and "the number 2 exists" are both propositions. P1 describes a concrete entity, whereas p2 an abstract entity. Yet in both instances, the proposition is abstract.
belorg wrote: I don't think 'a unicorn is a concrete entity' is a true proposition, but never mind.