In Ilkka Niiniluoto & Thomas Wallgren (eds.), On the Human Condition : Philosophical Essays in Honour of the Centennial Anniversary of Georg Henrik von Wright. Helsingfors, Finland: pp. 255-267 (2017)

Peter Øhrstrøm
Aalborg University
David Jakobsen
Aalborg University
Arthur Norman Prior (1914 – 1969) and Georg Henrik von Wright (1916 – 2003) both attended a conference in England sometime in the spring of 1956, after which they corresponded on Anselm’s ontological argument. Prior had at the conference presented a formal treatment of the ontological argument. Based upon notes from the Prior archive at the Bodleian Library, and correspondence with von Wright, we here presents Prior’s and von Wrights’ discussion of Anselm’s argument in light of Prior’s published, as well as unpublished writings on the ontological argument. Three versions of the ontological argument from Prior’s unpublished as well as published papers is presented: a non-modal, an argument from possible existence and finally a modal version. While Prior dismissed the first on the basis of a meta-theorem for proof in argumentation, the second on the basis of a fallacious commutation of operators, he argued that a valid version of the ontological argument can be proven from the distinctive S5 thesis of Lewis modal logic. While Prior gave reasons for a rejection of those distinct S5 thesis, in favour of Lewis S4 system, he also provided a novel argument in favour of accepting the S5 thesis for necessity and possibility. Finally we relate Prior’s work to Plantinga (1974) and consider objections raised by Oppy (2012) and Gale (2007) toward the modal versions of the ontological argument.
Keywords Anselm, A.N. Prior, Georg Henrik von Wright, Ontological Argument, Modal Logic, S5, Plantinga
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A.N. Prior and ‘The Nature of Logic’.David Jakobsen - 2019 - History and Philosophy of Logic 41 (1):71-81.

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