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Ontological Argument

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Fianchetto

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« on: January 25, 2012, 09:40:39 pm »
Here is Plantinga's Ontological Argument via the current question of the week:

                   

1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.

2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

                   

3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

                   

4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

                   

5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.

                   

6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.


Could one simply start with the possibility of a "necessary being" instead of a "maximally great being", such that the new OA would be:

1b. It is possible that a necessary being exists.

                                       

3b. If a necessary being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

                   

4b. If a necessary being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

                   

5b. If a necessary being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.

                   

6b. Therefore, a necessary being exists.


I dropped the numbering "2" in the new argument to highlight that with the possibility of necessary being, we get right to premise 3 of Plantinga's OA without the need of premise 2. To me, this is as legitimate a move as starting with a maximally great being (I'm assuming the OA is sound).

I guess my question is why does Plantinga use a maximally great being instead of a necessary being? Surely Plantinga has seen this and that the second argument is simpler. Is there an advantage to deducing a maximally great being over a necessary being? Perhaps it is possible that a necessary being need not be maximally great?

This is not really a big deal but I was wondering...



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Michael Helm

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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2012, 04:33:56 am »
There is a flaw between Plantinga's first and second premises. In the first, he says that it is possible for a maximally great being to exist. Theoretically speaking, as far as we know it is possible for an omnipotent being to exist because we cannot demonstrate any actual evidence on either side of that debate. So that's a theoretical possibility, not to be confused with a practical possibility.

In Plantinga's second premise, he suggests that all possibilities do happen somewhere in the multiverse. Now this is practical possibility that he is talking about. Every action has an exactly equal and almost exactly opposite reaction, so almost every "possibility" that we can conceive of is actually completely impossible in every way. However, all practical possibilities we believe to exist/happen somewhere (this is unverified). We cannot extend this to mean that there is an omnipotent being even if we could verify this phenomenon because we cannot verify that it is practically possible for an omnipotent being to exist.
Dr. William Lane Craig has stated publicly that he has never uploaded any of his videos to youtube, however he is aware that imposters post in his name. It is now up to youtube to remove the Dr. William Lane Craig channel from youtube.

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blank

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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2012, 06:32:40 am »
I think this is simply a word game which can be exposed by simply asking a few questions. e.g What is a maximally great being? What is a necessary being? What features would such beings have that would lead one to conclude that they are maximally great beings or necessary beings?


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FNB - Former non-believer

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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2012, 12:47:38 pm »
blank wrote: I think this is simply a word game which can be exposed by simply asking a few questions. e.g What is a maximally great being? What is a necessary being? What features would such beings have that would lead one to conclude that they are maximally great beings or necessary beings?


A necessary being would be a being that exists necessarily. A maximally great being would be a being that is maximally great… though perhaps, and I believe some have objected, there is no objective standard of greatness so that perhaps it wouldn't make sense to talk about a "maximally great being." However, the "necessary being" argument would still be untouched.

As for the OP, I am no philosopher, but I like your argument, it seems sound.

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Fianchetto

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« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2012, 04:22:37 pm »
thereaverofdarkness wrote: There is a flaw between Plantinga's first and second premises. In the first, he says that it is possible for a maximally great being to exist. Theoretically speaking, as far as we know it is possible for an omnipotent being to exist because we cannot demonstrate any actual evidence on either side of that debate. So that's a theoretical possibility, not to be confused with a practical possibility.

In Plantinga's second premise, he suggests that all possibilities do happen somewhere in the multiverse. Now this is practical possibility that he is talking about.


This is not what Craig is saying in the second premise. He's not saying that all possibilities happen, nor is the concept of "possible worlds" is related to a multiverse. I'll quote from the current question of the week that can now be found on the home of this website since this issue is raised. Here's the quote:

"For example, his objection to (2) is based upon an apparent  unfamiliarity with possible worlds semantics.  To say that some entity  exists in a possible world is just to say that such an entity possibly  exists.  It isn’t meant that the entity actually exists somewhere.  Look  again at my explanation:  “To say that God exists in some possible  world is just to say that there is a possible description of reality  which includes the statement ‘God exists’ as part of that description.”   Only if that description is true will the entity, in this case God,  actually exist.  So (2) is definitionally true."

A "possible world" is just a completely descriptive set of reality. A different set of descriptions is a different possible world. Anything that is logically possible (i.e. it's not incoherent) will a part of at least one world. There's no actually multiverse concept at work and possible worlds are not taken to necessarily be actual (though our actual existence, which is a possible world, is obviously actual.)

I don't know if there are many articles by Craig on this site on the Ontological Argument. The language of possible worlds comes up frequently in articles about Molinism. I'd check those out if you're interested in how possible worlds language gets used.



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Michael Helm

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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2012, 07:09:59 pm »
Fianchetto wrote: This is not what Craig is saying in the second premise. He's not saying that all possibilities happen, nor is the concept of "possible worlds" is related to a multiverse. I'll quote from the current question of the week that can now be found on the home of this website since this issue is raised. Here's the quote:

"For example, his objection to (2) is based upon an apparent  unfamiliarity with possible worlds semantics.  To say that some entity  exists in a possible world is just to say that such an entity possibly  exists.  It isn’t meant that the entity actually exists somewhere.  Look  again at my explanation:  “To say that God exists in some possible  world is just to say that there is a possible description of reality  which includes the statement ‘God exists’ as part of that description.”   Only if that description is true will the entity, in this case God,  actually exist.  So (2) is definitionally true."

A "possible world" is just a completely descriptive set of reality. A different set of descriptions is a different possible world. Anything that is logically possible (i.e. it's not incoherent) will a part of at least one world. There's no actually multiverse concept at work and possible worlds are not taken to necessarily be actual (though our actual existence, which is a possible world, is obviously actual.)

I don't know if there are many articles by Craig on this site on the Ontological Argument. The language of possible worlds comes up frequently in articles about Molinism. I'd check those out if you're interested in how possible worlds language gets used.



Your argument makes even less sense. You say the second premise does not assert that all possibilities happen, yet it does assert that if X is possible that it necessarily happens. If it is not asserting that ALL possibilities necessarily happen, then it is making a lapse in logic between the first point "if X is possible" and the second point "then X necessarily does happen".

Before I get to the rest of what you said, can you please acknowledge the point I'm making here?
Dr. William Lane Craig has stated publicly that he has never uploaded any of his videos to youtube, however he is aware that imposters post in his name. It is now up to youtube to remove the Dr. William Lane Craig channel from youtube.

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blank

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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2012, 05:55:03 am »
emailestthoume wrote:
Quote from: blank
I think this is simply a word game which can be exposed by simply asking a few questions. e.g What is a maximally great being? What is a necessary being? What features would such beings have that would lead one to conclude that they are maximally great beings or necessary beings?


A necessary being would be a being that exists necessarily. A maximally great being would be a being that is maximally great… though perhaps, and I believe some have objected, there is no objective standard of greatness so that perhaps it wouldn't make sense to talk about a "maximally great being." However, the "necessary being" argument would still be untouched.

As for the OP, I am no philosopher, but I like your argument, it seems sound.


What does it mean for a being to exist necessarily? Beings that we're familiar with have bodies.
Other beings that have been proposed though with little support by evidence are ephemeral bodies with minds e.g ghosts/spirits. Then there is the idea of God which isn't part of the general idea of beings.
Isn't that simply special pleading?

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FNB - Former non-believer

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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2012, 11:11:48 am »
blank wrote:
Quote from: emailestthoume
Quote from: blank
I think this is simply a word game which can be exposed by simply asking a few questions. e.g What is a maximally great being? What is a necessary being? What features would such beings have that would lead one to conclude that they are maximally great beings or necessary beings?


A necessary being would be a being that exists necessarily. A maximally great being would be a being that is maximally great… though perhaps, and I believe some have objected, there is no objective standard of greatness so that perhaps it wouldn't make sense to talk about a "maximally great being." However, the "necessary being" argument would still be untouched.

As for the OP, I am no philosopher, but I like your argument, it seems sound.


What does it mean for a being to exist necessarily? Beings that we're familiar with have bodies.
Other beings that have been proposed though with little support by evidence are ephemeral bodies with minds e.g ghosts/spirits. Then there is the idea of God which isn't part of the general idea of beings.
Isn't that simply special pleading?

I am not sure how the OP would define it, nor how it is generally defined in philosophy. My first guess would be that it is that a necessary being, if it existed, would be a being which exists in every possible world. Another definition that may work is that a necessary being is one that is self-existent, and eternally existent.

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Fianchetto

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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2012, 04:24:28 pm »
thereaverofdarkness wrote:

Your argument makes even less sense. You say the second premise does not assert that all possibilities happen, yet it does assert that if X is possible that it necessarily happens. If it is not asserting that ALL possibilities necessarily happen, then it is making a lapse in logic between the first point "if X is possible" and the second point "then X necessarily does happen".

Before I get to the rest of what you said, can you please acknowledge the point I'm making here?


This is just not the case. Consider using a unicorn in the argument:

1. It is possible that a unicorn exists.
2. If it is possible that a unicorn exists, then a unicorn exists in some possible world.

A unicorn (that is a horse with a single horn growing out of its head) is possible. It's not an incoherent concept. Becuase the unicorn is possible, there is a possible world where the unicorn exists, since anything that is possible will find itself in a possible world. This is just definitional. Now just because we can say that there is a possible world where a unicorn exists, it doesn't mean that the possible world actually exists.

Just because something is possible doesn't mean it is actual. So just because we can conceive of many "possible worlds," each one containing a complete description of reality, doesn't mean they are actual. The entire set of possible worlds would then constitute the entire set "ways that reality could be." However we are not to take all of these possible worlds as being actual. I think you are treating "possible worlds" as a multiverse that actually exists. This is not the way the concept of "possible worlds" is used.

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Johan Biemans (jbiemans)

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« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2012, 04:40:22 pm »
So when one is speaking of possible worlds, they are just speaking of a concept, right?  
   
 That would mean that anything that exists in a possible world only exists as a concept.  That's fine, but how do you get from a concept of a maximally great being to an actual maximally great being.

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Fianchetto

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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2012, 05:08:21 pm »
jbiemans wrote: So when one is speaking of possible worlds, they are just speaking of a concept, right?  
   
 That would mean that anything that exists in a possible world only exists as a concept.  That's fine, but how do you get from a concept of a maximally great being to an actual maximally great being.


The use of "possible worlds" is conceptual framework for thinking about things that could be possible. But it's not just a concept since our actual universe is also a part of the set possible worlds.

The key to this Plantinga's OA is premise 3. A maximally great being would be necessary. If a being is not necessary then it's not maximally great. A necessity--being or otherwise--would exist in every possible world. So because of premise 3, a maximally great being would have to exist in all possible worlds. Since our actual world is a possible world and a maximally great being exists in all possible worlds, then that being would exists in our world (premise 4).

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Johan Biemans (jbiemans)

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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2012, 05:18:55 pm »
Why is necessary a part of maximally great?

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Fianchetto

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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2012, 08:46:21 am »
jbiemans wrote: Why is necessary a part of maximally great?  


Necessity is the maximal expression of anything's ontological status. An omnipotent being is fully powerful. A necessary being is fully existing - It exists in all possible constructions of reality as opposed to just a few.

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Johan Biemans (jbiemans)

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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2012, 09:07:21 am »
If necessary means fully existing, then aren't you either begging the question, or simply defining this maximally great being into existence.

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blank

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« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2012, 03:36:55 pm »
emailestthoume wrote:
Quote from: blank
Quote from: emailestthoume
Quote from: blank
I think this is simply a word game which can be exposed by simply asking a few questions. e.g What is a maximally great being? What is a necessary being? What features would such beings have that would lead one to conclude that they are maximally great beings or necessary beings?


A necessary being would be a being that exists necessarily. A maximally great being would be a being that is maximally great… though perhaps, and I believe some have objected, there is no objective standard of greatness so that perhaps it wouldn't make sense to talk about a "maximally great being." However, the "necessary being" argument would still be untouched.

As for the OP, I am no philosopher, but I like your argument, it seems sound.


What does it mean for a being to exist necessarily? Beings that we're familiar with have bodies.
Other beings that have been proposed though with little support by evidence are ephemeral bodies with minds e.g ghosts/spirits. Then there is the idea of God which isn't part of the general idea of beings.
Isn't that simply special pleading?

I am not sure how the OP would define it, nor how it is generally defined in philosophy. My first guess would be that it is that a necessary being, if it existed, would be a being which exists in every possible world. Another definition that may work is that a necessary being is one that is self-existent, and eternally existent.


If your first guess is correct, then it is a viciously circular argument which philosophers wouldn't accept.
Your second guess wouldn't work because it too appears to be word games. I mean, what does it mean for a being to be self existent? e.g are humans self existent? What then does it mean for a being to be eternally existent?