Since, on Plantinga’s view, the concept of a maximally great being is consistent and hence possibly instantiated, it follows that such a being, i.e., God, exists in every possible world. And I think that it is fairly obvious (assuming that a maximally great being is defined as a maximally excellent being that exists in every possible world) that if a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then that being exists in all possible worlds and therefore in the actual world. As C.D. But if a person p who does A at t has the ability to do other than A at t, then it follows that p has the ability to bring it about that an omniscient God has a false belief – and this is clearly impossible. Kant’s Criticism: Is Existence a Perfection? And this seems to entail that x has the reason for its existence in its own nature. But since it is rational to accept their central premise, they do show that it is rational to accept that conclusion.”. We can do so merely by consulting the definition and seeing that it is self-contradictory. Anselm is saying that if you imagine the concept of God in your mind, then that’s not really God because there is something “greater” than a God that only exists in your mind: a God that exists in reality too. Therefore, a maximally great being exists. Thus, on this general line of argument, it is a necessary truth that such a being exists; and this being is the God of traditional Western theism. But if that’s the case, then why don’t most philosophers (including theists) accept Anselm’s argument? There is, however, one class of exceptions. One thing that’s certain is that the Ontological Argument, whether sound or unsound, is a fascinating and powerful attempt at a proof for the existence of God. If 1, then there is at least one logically possible world in which a maximally great being exists. Those of the first set are dependent for their continued existence on gentle handling; those of the second set are not. But this entails that the nonexistence of an unlimited being in W can be explained by the absence of f in W; and this contradicts the claim that its nonexistence in W can’t be explained by reference to any causally contingent feature. William Lane Craig summarizes Plantinga’s argument this way: The actual world is the universe or reality in which you and I currently reside. Plantinga begins by defining two properties, the property of maximal greatness and the property of maximal excellence, as follows: Thus, maximal greatness entails existence in every possible world: since a being that is maximally great at W is omnipotent at every possible world and non-existent beings can’t be omnipotent, it follows that a maximally great being exists in every logically possible world. Likewise, cosmological arguments depend on certain empirical claims about the explanation for the occurrence of empirical events. It is a conceptual truth that a piland is an island than which none greater can be imagined (that is, the greatest possible island that can be imagined). In a debate with the late atheist Victor Stenger, William Lane Craig noted that a “maximally great pizza” is incoherent because an object isn’t a pizza if it can’t be eaten and if such an object can be eaten then it wouldn’t be “maximally great,” since that kind of greatness includes necessary existence. Perhaps the most influential of contemporary modal arguments is Plantinga’s version. 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. It can be a complement or an insult depending on how it’s used. Unlike the idea of God, perfect islands and maximally great pizzas are incoherent ideas that can’t exist in reality so we can’t even really conceive of them in the mind. Since, by definition, a being that is maximally great at W is omnipotent at every possible world and a being that does not exist at some world W’ cannot be omnipotent at W’, it straightforwardly follows, without the help of anything like the controversial S5 axiom, that a maximally great being exists in every logically possible world. Well, God must have all power, all knowledge, and all forms of goodness. The problem with this criticism is that the ontological argument can be restated without defining God. Seattle Pacific University As we have seen, Plantinga expressly defines maximal excellence in such terms. One might say, with some intelligibility, that it would be better (for oneself or for mankind) if God exists than if He does not-but that is a different matter. Logically, it is merely the copula of a judgement. God is, as a conceptual matter (that is, as a matter of definition) an unlimited being. Omnipotence entails the power to create free beings, but omniscience rules out the possibility that such beings exist. Therefore, since God is “that, than which nothing greater can be conceived” and a God that exists in reality as well as the mind is greater than a God that exists only in the mind, it follows that God exists. But this contradicts the assumption that B is a being that instantiates all the perfections. Suppose B is a being that instantiates all the perfections and suppose B doesn’t exist (in reality). We can, of course, try to associate the phrase “a being than which none greater can be imagined” with more familiar finite concepts, but these finite concepts are so far from being an adequate description of God, that it is fair to say they don’t help us to get a detailed idea of God. No more complete understanding of the concept of a maximally great being than this is required, on Anselm’s view, to successfully make the argument. If God is omniscient, then God knows what every person will do at every moment t. To say that a person p has free will is to say that there is at least one moment t at which p does A but could have done other than A. According to premise 3, existence is what’s known as a great-making property or, as the matter is sometimes put, a perfection. Premise 3 asserts that existence is a perfection or great-making property. But suppose that he went on to say, as if by a logical inference: “You can no longer doubt that this island which is more excellent than all lands exists somewhere, since you have no doubt that it is in your understanding. can’t have self-evident knowledge that God exists. Such an Since there are only two possibilities with respect to W and one entails the impossibility of an unlimited being and the other entails the necessity of an unlimited being, it follows that the existence of an unlimited being is either logically necessary or logically impossible. As was pointed out recently in this space, the argument’s origin can be found in the writings of the eleventh century saint and doctor of the Church, Anselm of Canterbury. But obviously this is impossible. Descartes’ ontological argument is an echo of the original ontological argument for the existence of God as proposed by St. Anselm in the 11th century.
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