Kant’s Critique. Kevin Rogers. Kant for Dummies. A simple explanation. Scope. “If it is fools who say in their heart there is no God, those who try to prove his existence seem to me to be even more foolish .” (J.G. Hamann ) Kant’s critique: What were his arguments ? A re they sound?
Unite empiricism (Locke) and rationalism (Descartes)
Theist (moral argument)
Atheism dangerous to society
Archbishop of Canterbury (1093 – 1109)
Proslogion (1078) = Discourse on the Existence of God
Hence, even the fool is convinced that something exists in the understanding, at least, than which nothing greater can be conceived. For, when he hears of this, he understands it. And whatever is understood, exists in the understanding. And assuredly that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, cannot exist in the understanding alone. For, suppose it exists in the understanding alone: then it can be conceived to exist in reality; which is greater. Therefore, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, exists in the understanding alone, the very being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, is one, than which a greater can be conceived. But obviously this is impossible. Hence, there is no doubt that there exists a being than which nothing greater can be conceived, and it exists both in the understanding and in reality.
(Proslogion chapter 2)
11th-century Benedictine monk
In Behalf of the Fool
Refutes Anselm using a parody
The Lost Island is that than which no greater can be conceived
It is greater to exist in reality than merely as an idea
If the Lost Island does not exist, one can conceive of an even greater island, i.e., one that does exist
Therefore, the Lost Island exists in reality
No intrinsic maximum for the greatest conceivable island
Is “a greatest conceivable island” a coherent concept?
OA confuses existence and essence
Existence is not a predicate
Negation does not entail a contradiction
How can a conceptual conundrum in the mind affect a being’s objective existence?
[The Ontological Argument] “neither satisfies the healthy common sense of humanity, nor sustains the scientific examination of the philosopher.“
Is he right?
Predicate Argument is Irrelevant
Necessary Existence is a Property
Kant claims existence is not a property to invalidate OA
Applies this to necessary existence
Necessary existence is a type of existence
Hence necessary existence is a property
Now we no longer need the supposition that necessary existence is a perfection; for obviously a being can't be omnipotent (or for that matter omniscient or morally perfect) in a given world unless it exists in that world... It follows that there actually exists a being that is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect; this being, furthermore, exists and has these qualities in every other world as well. (Plantinga)
The MOA is not a proof
But obviously this isn't a proof; no one who didn't already accept the conclusion, would accept the first premise… Everyone who understands and reflects on its central premise -- that the existence of a maximally great being is possible -- will accept it. Still, it is evident, I think, that there is nothing contrary to reason or irrational in accepting this premise. What I claim for this argument, therefore, is that it establishes, not the truth of theism, but its rational acceptability. And hence it accomplishes at least one of the aims of the tradition of natural theology. (Plantinga)
CA Assumes NB is possible
CA assumes NB is God
Justifying the premises
Big Bang marked beginning of matter, energy, space and time
Cause must be transcendent, timeless and powerful
Attributes not derived from any a priori argument
Doesn’t argue that cause is NB or God
Limits to properties that are directly implied by the empirical and logical evidence
Kant: design argument demonstrates a designer
Modifies the form of matter but not a creator
To demonstrate creator, we must rely on OA and CA
Only demonstrate the existence of an architect
Limited by the material with which he works
The design argument may still be valid, but it is just limited in scope
Not a serious concern
Aim of arguments is to establish God’s existence
Not completely define God’s attributes
If the design argument is sound, then it is decisive
Main became Darwin’s theory of evolution
Provided naturalistic explanation of design for living creatures
Man of his own time
His views reflect influence of Enlightenment
Claims cosmological argument based on the “spurious transcendental law of causality”
Reflects Hume’s scepticism of cause and effect
Enlightenment aimed to achieve certainty but failed
Cause and effect intuitively accepted to be true
Kant’s desire for certainty is unrealistic
It is not to be denied that ever since Kant's time an impression has prevailed widely that the old proofs are no longer defensible. Possibly the mere fact that an eminent thinker had ventured to call in question such seemingly irrefutable arguments seemed by itself almost equivalent to a disproof. But another reason also, extrinsic it is true to the merits of the criticism, but none the less effective, operated in favour of this result. During the last century, rationalism, in the form either of naturalism or of idealism, had become strongly entrenched in the great centres of learning. It was only natural that thinkers who had discarded belief in a personal God should applaud Kant's conclusion, even if they might hesitate to affirm that his criticism of the proofs was in all respects sound. Thus it came about that those who admitted the value of the traditional arguments were regarded as out of date. Often the validity of Kant's objections is simply taken for granted, and the proofs of God's existence dismissed without more ado. Even some of the apologists of revealed religion, eager not to be behind the fashion, discard them as untenable. (Joyce)
Craig is well aware of Kant
Craig’s argument are not subject to Kant’s critique
Craig’s opponents do not directly use Kant
Some of Kant’s arguments reappear
Craig, W.L. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd edition, Crossway, Wheaton, Illinois, 2008.
Joyce, G.H., Principles of Natural Theology, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, Toronto, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras, 1922.
Kant, I. The Critique of Pure Reason, 2nd edition, 1787, translated by J.M.D. Meiklejohn, A Penn State Electronic Classic Series Publication, Pennsylvania State University, 2010.
Koons, R.C. Western Theism, Lecture notes and bibliography from Dr.Koons' Western Theism course (Phl 356) at the University of Texas at Austin, Spring 1998, http://www.leaderu.com/offices/koons/, in particular Lectures 5&9.
Plantinga, Alvin, God, Freedom and Evil, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1974. The pertinent section on the ontological argument is quoted at http://mind.ucsd.edu/syllabi/02-03/01w/readings/plantinga.html.
Robson, Gregory, The Ontological Proof: Kant’s Objections, Plantinga’s Reply, KSO 2012: 122-171, posted August 26, 2012 www.kantstudiesonline.net.
Worthing, M., Apologetics Intensive Lecture Notes, Section 05, Apologetics, proofs and science, 2012.