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Chapter 6:. Ontological arguments for God’s existence:. Ontological argument. Derived from the Greek terms ontos (being) and logos (reason or rational account) First developed by Saint Anselm of Canterbury, the argument takes a variety of forms

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chapter 6

Chapter 6:

Ontological arguments

for God’s existence:

ontological argument
Ontological argument
  • Derived from the Greek terms ontos (being) and logos(reason or rational account)
  • First developed by Saint Anselm of Canterbury, the argument takes a variety of forms
  • The common theme among them is that they begin a priori – proceeding from the mere concept of God – and conclude that God must exist
anselm s ontological argument
Anselm’s ontological argument

Everyone is able to understand by the term “God” a being than which none greater can be conceived

So, a being than which none greater can be conceived exists in the mind (the understanding) when one hears about such a being

We can conceive of a being than which none greater can be conceived which exists both in the mind and in reality

anselm s argument continued
Anselm’s argument continued
  • To exist in reality is better than to exist in the mind alone
  • If, therefore, a being than which none greater can be conceived exists in the mind alone and not in reality, it is not a being than which none greater can be conceived
  • Therefore, a being than which none greater can be conceived exists in reality.
guanilo s objection
Guanilo’s objection

Everyone is able to understand by the term “Perfect Island” the greatest possible island(GPI).

So, a GPI exists in the mind

We can conceive of a GPI that exists in the mind and reality

Existence in reality is greater than existence in the mind alone

If a GPI exists in the mind alone, then it is not the GPI

Thus, a GPI exists in reality

But since a GPI does not exist in reality, the argument structure (which Anselm also utilizes) must be flawed

kant s objection
Kant’s objection
  • Existence is not a predicate such that it is a property which can be affirmed of a thing
  • Existence does not add to the concept of a thing; rather, existence is the instantiation of a thing
  • The example of a black, existing cat
plantinga s modal argument
Plantinga’s modal argument

It is possible that a being exists which is maximally great (a being we can call God)

So, there is a possible world in which a maximally great being exists

A maximally great being is necessarily maximally excellent in every possible world(by definition)

Since a maximally great being is necessarily maximally excellent in every possible world, that being is necessarily maximally excellent in the actual world

Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world

objections
Objections
  • God’s existence is a logical or metaphysical impossibility
  • Possible worlds and the semantics they employ are problematic
  • Fairies, ghosts, gremlins and unicorns can be made “plausible” through the same argumentation (similar to “Perfect Island”)
martin s special fairy argument
Martin’s special fairy argument

It is possible that a special fairy exists

So, there is a possible world in which a special fairy exists

A special fairy is necessarily a tiny woodland creature with magical powers in every possible world

Since a special fairy is necessarily a tiny woodland creature with magical powers in every possible world, that fairy is necessarily a tiny woodland creature with magical powers in the actual world

Therefore, a special fairy exists in the actual world

questions for discussion
Questions for discussion
  • Is it greater to exist than to not exist, as Anselm claimed? How does your answer affect Anselm’s argument?
  • Can you conceive of God’s non-existence? If so, what follows from this regarding the ontological argument?
  • How does the ontological argument differ from other classic arguments for the existence of God?
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