The paper deals with the "deuteros plous", literally ‘the second voyage’, proverbially ‘the next best way’, discussed in Plato’s "Phaedo", the key passage being Phd. 99e4–100a3. The second voyage refers to what Plato’s Socrates calls his “flight into the logoi”. Elaborating on the subject, the author first (I) provides a non-standard interpretation of the passage in question, and then (II) outlines the philosophical problem that it seems to imply, and, finally, (III) tries to apply this philosophical problem to the "ultimate (...) final proof" of immortality and to draw an analogy with the ontological argument for the existence of God, as proposed by Descartes in his 5th "Meditation". The main points are as follows: (a) the “flight into the logoi” can have two different interpretations, a common one and an astonishing one, and (b) there is a structural analogy between Descartes’s ontological argument for the existence of God in his 5th "Meditation" and the "ultimate final proof" for the immortality of the soul in the "Phaedo". (shrink)
We remark that the A Contrario Argument is an ambiguous technique of justification of judicial decisions. We distinguish two uses and versions of it, strong and weak, taking as example the normative sentence “Underprivileged citizens are permitted to apply for State benefit”. According to the strong version, only underprivileged citizens are permitted to apply for State benefit, so stateless persons are not. According to the weak, the law does not regulate the position of underprivileged stateless persons in this respect. We (...) propose an inferential analysis of the two uses along the lines of the scorekeeping practice as described by Robert Brandom, and try to point out what are the ontological assumptions of the two. We conclude that the strong version is justified if and only if there is a relevant incompatibility between the regulated subject and the present case. (shrink)
The article examines Kant's various criticisms of the broadly Cartesian ontological argument as they are developed in the Critique of Pure Reason. It is argued that each of these criticisms is effective against its intended target, and that these targets include—in addition to Descartes himself—Leibniz, Wolff, and Baumgarten. It is argued that Kant's most famous criticism—the charge that being is not a real predicate—is directed exclusively against Leibniz. Kant's argument for this thesis—the argument proceeding from his example of a hundred (...) thalers—although it may seem to beg the question, in fact succeeds against Leibniz. It does so because the charge of begging the question can be rebutted if one makes certain Leibnizian assumptions. (shrink)
We reconstruct Hegel’s implicit version of the ontological argument in the light of his anti-representationalist idealist metaphysics. For Hegel, the ontological argument had been a peculiarly modern form of argument for the existence of God, presupposing a ‘representationalist’ account of the mind and its concepts. As such, it was susceptible to Kant’s famous refutation, but Kant himself had provided a model for an alternative conception of concept, one developed by Fichte with his notion of the I=I. We reconstruct an Hegelian (...) version of the ontological argument by considering the possibility of a Fichtean version, and then subjecting it to a critique based on Hegel’s critical appropriation of Fichte’s I=I. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Kant's famous critique of the Ontological Argument largely begs the question against that argument, and is no better when supplemented by the modern quantificational analysis of "exists." In particular, I argue that the claim, common to Hume and Kant, that conceptual truths can never entail substantive existential claims is false,and thus no ground for rejecting the Ontological Argument.
I argue that Kant's and Frege's refutations of the ontological argument are more similar than has generally been acknowledged. As I clarify, for both Kant and Frege, to say that something exists is to assert of a concept that it is instantiated. With such an assertion one expresses that there is a particular relation between the instantiating object and a rational subject - a particular mode of presentation for the object in question. By its very nature such a relation cannot (...) be the property of an object and thus cannot be included in the concept of that object. Thus the ontological argument, which takes existence to be a part of the concept of the supreme being, cannot, according to Kant and Frege, succeed. A secondary goal of the paper is to illuminate what I take to be an important affinity between Kant's and Frege's views more generally: that Frege's fundamental distinction between the sense and the referent of a proposition echoes, in an important way, Kant's distinction between concepts and the formal principles for their application to experience. (shrink)
This article serves to explore the historical development of the ontological argument from Anselm to Present. Initially, the main goal is to introduce the lay reader to one of the most perplexing arguments for the theistic conception of God. Logically, this is an a priori argument, similar to one of a mathematical proof. Oddly, the argument has sort of fallen out of place in contemporary philosophy, apart from a reboot from Alvin Plantinga. The goal is to illustrate that the initial (...) argument as stated by Anselm seems to be an unsolved problem in philosophical inquiry. (shrink)
I argue that Descartes intended the so-called ontological "argument" as a self-validating intuition, rather than as a formal proof. The textual evidence for this view is highly compelling, but the strongest support comes from understanding Descartes's diagnosis for why God's existence is not 'immediately' self-evident to everyone and the method of analysis that he develops for making it self-evident. The larger aim of the paper is to use the ontological argument as a case study of Descartes's nonformalist theory of deduction (...) and his method of analysis, showing how he conceives the latter as a form of philosophical therapy. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall present and defend an ontological argument for the existence of God. The argument has two premises: possibly, God exists, and necessary existence is a perfection. I then defend, at length, arguments for both of these premises. Finally, I shall address common objections to ontological arguments, such as the Kantian slogan, and Gaunilo-style parodies, and argue that they do not succeed. I conclude that there is at least one extant ontological argument that is plausibly sound.
We can attend to the logic of Anselm's ontological argument, and amuse ourselves for a few hours unraveling its convoluted word-play, or we can seek to look beyond the flawed logic, to the search for God it expresses. From the perspective of this second approach the Ontological Argument might be seen as more than a mere argument - indeed, as something of a contemplative exercise. One can see in the argument a tantalizing attempt to capture in logical form the devotee’s (...) experience of the presence of God in the contemplation of God. It is a peculiarity of the argument that it can seem hopelessly silly or richly evocative depending upon which of these approaches one takes. In this essay I examine the flawed logic of the Ontological Argument, but then attempt to reflect upon the contemplative experience that may underlie it. (shrink)
It is often said that the ontological argument fails because it wrongly treats existence as a first-level property or predicate. This has proved a controversial claim, and efforts to evaluate it are complicated by the fact that the words ‘existence is not a property/predicate’ have been used by philosophers to make at least three different negative claims: (a) one about a first-level phenomenon possessed by objects like horses, stones, you and me; (b) another about the logical form of assertions of (...) existence; and (c) still another about a second-level phenomenon possessed by concepts when they are instantiated. I argue that only the last of these claims, originally voiced by Kant, is both plausible and relevant to the ontological argument. And I try to show that the relevance of the Kantian version comes from its providing the underlying justification for a different, and far less controversial, criticism of the ontological argument. (shrink)
An argument for the existence of gods given by the Stoic Diogenes of Babylon and reported by Sextus Empiricus appears to be an ancient version of the ontological argument. In this paper I present a new reconstruction of Diogenes' argument that differs in certain important respects from the reconstruction presented by Jacques Brunschwig. I argue that my reconstruction makes better sense of how Diogenes' argument emerged as a response to an attack on an earlier Stoic argument presented by Zeno of (...) Citium. Diogenes' argument as reconstructed here is an example of a modal ontological argument that makes use of the concept of being of such a nature as to exist. I argue that this concept is a modal concept that is based on the Philonian definition of possibility, and thus that Diogenes' argument is a source of important evidence about the use of non-Stoic modalities in the post-Chrysippean Stoa. I conclude by arguing that the objections made against considering Diogenes' argument as ontological are unfounded and that Diogenes' argument clearly resembles modern versions of modal ontological arguments. (shrink)
The intention of this article is to show that the Tractatus deals with the problem of the relation between reality, possibility, and necessity as traditionally considered in the ontological argument, that is, in relation to the idea of limit, and that in Section 5.5521, we find an especially clarifying formulation of this question; the formulation itself, however, is not at all clear, so that a lengthy commentary of it is justified.
This paper is a discussion of an ontological argument defended by E. J. Lowe in the *Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion* (edited by C. Meister and P. Copan, at pp.332-40). The volume to which this paper belongs contains an article by Lowe which defends a different ontological argument from the one that I discuss.
St Anselm is one of the major thinkers of the medieval epoch of the history of philosophy. Interest in Anselm usually focuses on his discussion of the problem of the existence of God especially as contained in the Proslogion. Indeed Anselm is mostly known for his attempt to proof the existence of God in the Proslogion. The argument he advances here which goes by the name ontological argument has been a point of reference all through the history of Western philosophy (...) and is usually viewed as his most substantive contributions to philosophy of religion, with Hume and Kant criticizing it in the eighteenth century and thinkers such as Hartshorne, Malcom and Plantinga endorsing it in the Twentieth century. Like Augustine before him and Aquinas after him, Anselm did not see any opposition between faith and reason, or again, between philosophy and theology, as he was concerned with providing rational ground for the doctrines of Christianity which he already accepted as a matter of faith. Indeed as commentators rightly note, Anselm’s thought can be summed up in the Augustinian dictum, “faith seeks understanding”, so that he is arguably one of the early pioneers of Christian theology, so far as he sees certain solidarity between faith and reason, with reason providing the excellent service of rational clarification of what we accept by faith. The inter-play Anselm sees as subsisting between faith and reason is one we must take into account if we must appreciate his contributions to theology and metaphysics, for this consideration permeates the whole of his thought. For him clearly, that there is no divorce between faith and reason means concretely that “I do not seek to understand in other that I may believe, but rather I believe in order that I may understand”. (shrink)
In this short note we respond to the claim made by Christopher Viger in  that Anselm’s so-called ontological argument falls prey to Russell’s paradox. We show that Viger’s argument is based on a flawed premise and hence does not in fact demonstrate what he claims it demonstrates.
Stephen Davis has argued that the second ontological argument fails as a theistic proof because it ignores the logical possibility of what he calls an ontologically impossible being. By an “ontologically impossible being” he means a being that does not exist, logically-possibly exists, and would exist necessarily if it existed. In this brief essay, I argue, first, that even if an OIB is logically possible, its logical possibility is irrelevant to the OA at issue; and second, that an OIB is (...) in fact logically impossible, because the predicates which define it are inconsistent. The concept of an OIB may be coherent if necessity is understood as ontological self-sufficiency, but even so the OIB is irrelevant to the OA. (shrink)
According to standard trope nominalism, there are simple tropes that do not have parts or multiply distinct aspects. Douglas Ehring’s reductio ad absurdum against this standard view concludes that there are no simple tropes. In this paper, we provide a response to Ehring defending the standard view. Ehring’s argument may be refuted by (1) distinguishing the ontological form of tropes from their contribution to the ontological content of the world, and (2) construing tropes as having primitive identity. At the same (...) time, standard trope nominalism is elaborated on by distinguishing between ontological form and content, for which there are also independent reasons. (shrink)
In recent years, the ontological argument and theistic metaphysics have been criticised by philosophers working in both the analytic and continental traditions. Responses to these criticisms have primarily come from philosophers who make use of the traditional, and problematic, concept of God. In this volume, Daniel A. Dombrowski defends the ontological argument against its contemporary critics, but he does so by using a neoclassical or process concept of God, thereby strengthening the case for a contemporary theistic metaphysics. Relying on the (...) thought of Charles Hartshorne, he builds on Hartshorne's crucial distinction between divine existence and divine actuality, which enables neoclassical defenders of the ontological argument to avoid the familiar criticism that the argument moves illegitimately from an abstract concept to concrete reality. His argument, thus, avoids the problems inherent in the traditional concept of God as static. (shrink)
By taking ‘existence in reality’ to be a great-making property and ‘God’ to be the greatest possible being, Plantinga skillfully presents Anselm’s ontological argument. However, since he proves God’s existence by virtue of a premise, “God (a maximally great being) is a possible being”, that is true only if God actually exists; his argument begs the question of the existence of God.
Proof and perception : the context of the argumentum cartesianum -- Refutations of atheism : ontological arguments in English philosophy, 1652-1705 -- Being and intuition : Malebranche's appropriation of the argument -- An adequate conception : the argument in Spinoza's philosophy -- Ontological arguments in Leibniz and the German enlightenment -- Kant's systematic critique of the ontological argument -- Hegel's reconstruction of the argument.
The ontological argument is one of the most intriguing lines of reasoning in Western thought. Leaving behind debates over the proper relation between science and religion, it makes a simple move from conceptual analysis to existence in order to prove the existence of god. The ontological argument will be reviewed against the background of the contemporary debate on thought experiments. Assuming that the ontological argument fails as a philosophical proof, I will argue that its move from concept to existence might (...) best be understood as a thought experiment of revealed theology (a theology based on revelation – unlike philosophical theology/natural theology). Viewed from this perspective it makes sense that Anselm of Canterbury offered his versions of the ontological argument in the form of a prayer, which, presupposing the existence of god, seems to run counter to a proof of god's existence. (shrink)
In this paper, the authors show that there is a reading of St. Anselm's ontological argument in Proslogium II that is logically valid (the premises entail the conclusion). This reading takes Anselm's use of the definite description "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" seriously. Consider a first-order language and logic in which definite descriptions are genuine terms, and in which the quantified sentence "there is an x such that..." does not imply "x exists". Then, using an ordinary logic (...) of descriptions and a connected greater-than relation, God's existence logically follows from the claims: (a) there is a conceivable thing than which nothing greater is conceivable, and (b) if <em>x</em> doesn't exist, something greater than x can be conceived. To deny the conclusion, one must deny one of the premises. However, the argument involves no modal inferences and, interestingly, Descartes' ontological argument can be derived from it. (shrink)
This chapter presents and critically discusses the main historical variants of the “ontological argument,” a form of a priori argument for the existence of God pioneered by Anselm of Canterbury. I assess the contributions of Anselm, Descartes, Leibniz, and Gödel, and criticisms by Gaunilo, Kant, and Oppy among others.
The authors investigated the ontological argument computationally. The premises and conclusion of the argument are represented in the syntax understood by the automated reasoning engine PROVER9. Using the logic of definite descriptions, the authors developed a valid representation of the argument that required three non-logical premises. PROVER9, however, discovered a simpler valid argument for God's existence from a single non-logical premise. Reducing the argument to one non-logical premise brings the investigation of the soundness of the argument into better focus. Also, (...) the simpler representation of the argument brings out clearly how the ontological argument constitutes an early example of a ?diagonal argument? and, moreover, one used to establish a positive conclusion rather than a paradox. (shrink)
The ontological argument in Anselm’s Proslogion II continues to generate a remarkable store of sophisticated commentary and criticism. However, in our opinion, much of this literature ignores or misrepresents the elegant simplicity of the original argument. The dialogue below seeks to restore that simplicity, with one important modification. Like the original, it retains the form of a reductio, which we think is essential to the argument’s great genius. However, it seeks to skirt the difficult question of whether 'exists' is a (...) genuine predicate by appealing instead to a distinction between having only mediated causal powers and having unmediated causal powers. Pegasus has no unmediated causal powers, but he has mediated causal powers through the thoughts, depictions, and literature in which he figures. This distinction allows us to argue about the existence of God without begging any questions. (shrink)
The ontological argument of Saint Anselm, one of the most famous in the entire history of philosophy, has fascinated men’s minds for centuries. And yet, as Hartshorne makes abundantly clear, much of its subtlety has been missed by some of the keenest commentators. Although it has been discussed again and again, little work seems to have been done, even up to the moment, in exploring the logical forms or deep structures needed for an exact statement. Part of this is due (...) no doubt to the subtlety of the argument itself, but part of it is due to that fact that the key ideas involved are not of the kind that easily lend themselves to being handled within the standard kinds of logic. (shrink)
Kevin Harrelson's book commences with the following words: This book provides a philosophical analysis of the several debates concerning the "ontological argument" from the middle of the seventeenth to the beginning of the nineteenth century. My aim in writing it was twofold. First, I wished to provide a detailed and comprehensive account of the history of these debates, which I perceived to be lacking in the scholarly literature. Second, I wanted also to pursue a more philosophically interesting question concerning the (...) apparent unassailability of ontological arguments. In pursuit of this latter problem, the driving question that my account addresses is "why has this argument, or kind of argument, been such a constant in otherwise diverse philosophical contexts and periods?" I think that there is no doubt that Harrelson succeeds in the first of these aims. He has, indeed, produced a detailed scholarly account of the history of debates about ontological arguments from the middle of the seventeenth century to the beginning of the nineteenth. His history is engaging and interesting, covering a wide range of authors with diverse philosophical orientations: Descartes, Arnauld, Caterus, Gassendi, Hobbes, Mersenne, More, Geulincx, Cudworth, Locke, Clarke, Malebranche, Huet, Spinoza, Leibniz, Wolff, Baumgarten, Eberhard, Crusius, Kant, Mendelssohn, and Hegel, among others. It seems to me that anyone who works on the treatment of. (shrink)
It has generally been assumed that Anselm was the originator of the ontological argument. Notwithstanding the fact that it has received much criticism, Malcolm defends its so-called second version. In this paper we shall examine some features of ibn Sina’s notion of the Necessary Existent which show that prior to Anselm, ibn Sina formulated a version of this argument which corresponds in some senses to Malcolm’s version, and that a close examination of ibn Sina’s peculiar version enables us to criticize (...) Malcolm’s version as it has not been done heretofore. (shrink)
I argue in my paper that, when the ?twofold standpoint,? in terms of which Kant undertakes to set metaphysics upon the revolutionary path of critical reason, is truly assessed, we discover that the fundamental distinction that he makes between subject and object, between thinking (together with desiring and willing) and knowing, between thinking the thing in itself and knowing objects of possible experience, or between freedom and nature, recapitulates the ontological argument demonstrating the necessary relationship between thought and existence.
Among the rational arguments for God’s existence there is the ontological argument, originally put forth – in its classical form – by the scholastic theologian and philosopher Anselm of Canterbury and subsequently reiterated, in slightly altered versions, by some of the modern thinkers. The present paper aims to outline a comparative presentation of the ontological argument as formulated by Anselm and Descartes, respectively, and to investigate the ways in which the two Christian philosophers perceived the relationship between faith and reason, (...) between unconditional acceptance of divine Revelation and its expression in the terms of discursive thinking. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant’s well known and thoroughly discussed criticism of the cosmological argument, hereafter ‘CA’, is that it presupposes or depends upon the cogency of the ontological argument, hereafter ‘OA’. Call this criticism ‘the Dependency Thesis’. It is fair to say that the received view on the matter is that Kant failed to establish the Dependency Thesis.1 In what follows, I argue that the received view is mistaken. I begin by rehearsing the standard objection to what is typically taken to be (...) Kant’s primary argument for the Dependency Thesis. I defend Kant by presenting a different argument for his thesis. This argument is not vulnerable to the standard objection, and there is good reason to think that Kant had such an argument in mind. (shrink)
This paper argues that Kant’s most famous objection to the ontological argument -- that existence is not a real predicate -- is not, in fact, his most effective objection, and that his ”neglected objection’ to the argument deserves to be better known. It shows that Kant clearly anticipates William Rowe’s later objection that the argument begs the question, and discusses why Kant himself seems to have overlooked the force of this criticism in his attempt to demolish the traditional proofs for (...) God’s existence. (shrink)
The ontological proof became something of a signature argument for the British Idealist movement and this paper examines how and why that was so. Beginning with an account of Hegel's understanding of the argument, it looks at how the thesis was picked up, developed and criticized by the Cairds, Bradley, Pringle-Pattison and others. The importance of Bradley's reading in particular is stressed. Lastly, consideration is given to Collingwood's lifelong interest in the proof and it is argued that his attention is (...) best understood as a direct continuation of theirs. In view of the fact that recent commentators have tried to draw a sharp line between Collingwood's approach to metaphysics and ontology and that of his predecessors, the establishment of this connection calls for a measure of reassessment on both sides. (shrink)
Peter Millican (2004) provides a novel and elaborate objection to Anselm's ontological argument. Millican thinks that his objection is more powerful than any other because it does not dispute contentious 'deep philosophical theories' that underlie the argument. Instead, it tries to reveal the 'fatal flaw' of the argument by considering its 'shallow logical details'. Millican's objection is based on his interpretation of the argument, according to which Anselm relies on what I call the 'principle of the superiority of existence' (PSE). (...) I argue that (i) the textual evidence Millican cites does not provide a convincing case that Anselm relies on PSE and that, moreover, (ii) Anselm does not even need PSE for the ontological argument. I introduce a plausible interpretation of the ontological argument that is not vulnerable to Millican's objection and conclude that even if the ontological argument fails, it does not fail in the way Millican thinks it does. (shrink)
Semen Frank was one of the first and most ardent advocates of the ontological argument in the twentieth century. He proposed an original interpretation of the ontological argument based on its analogy to Descartes’ Cogito. Frank believed that it is possible to develop Cogito ergo sum into Cogito ergo est ens absolutum. In this paper, I analyze his version of the ontological argument. First, I propose a simple reconstruction of his reasoning, paying attention to its hidden premise. Second, departing from (...) the classical logical interpretations of Descartes’ argument, I show that for Frank the claim that God exists had the same logical properties as Cogito. As a result, it seems that his argument was formally correct, though based on a premise which could hardly be convincing for a non-believer. This should not be surprising, however, since Frank, as most Russian religious philosophers, was not interested in the project of philosophical theology. His main concern was rather the development of philosophy based on religious premises, which might be called “theological philosophy”. (shrink)
Forma logica argumenti ontologici reconsiderataHac in tractatione auctores veritatem praemissarum argumenti ontologici, quod in dissertatione sua anno 1991 publicata proposuerunt, examinant. Auctores praesertim de prima Anselmi praemissa, qua asseritur, dari cogitabile quid, quo maius cogitari nequit, dubitant. Primo scilicet argumentum, quod Anselmus pro hac assertione astruit, reiciunt; deinde ostendunt, aliam interpretationem formalem huius praemissae dari posse, secundum quam vera evenit. Haec interpretatione adhibita, argumentum Anselmi non solum validum, sed etiam efficax esse constat. Reconstructio praecisa argumenti in hoc sensu intellectinihilominus revelat, (...) conclusionem eius, scilicet „Deus existit“, sensum peculiarem acquirere, qui Anselmi intentioni originali haud satisfacit.Reflections on the Logic of the Ontological ArgumentThe authors evaluate the soundness of the ontological argument they developed in their 1991 paper. They focus on Anselm’s first premise, which asserts that there is a conceivable thing than which nothing greater can be conceived. After casting doubt on the argument Anselm uses in support of this premise, the authors show that there is a formal reading on which it is true. Such a reading can be used in a sound reconstruction of the argument. After this reconstruction is developed in precise detail, the authors show that the conclusion, a reading of the claim “God exists”, does not quite achieve the end Anselm desired. (shrink)
The 'parody objection' to the ontological argument for the existence of God advances parallel arguments apparently proving the existence of various absurd entities. I discuss recent versions of the parody objection concerning the existence of 'AntiGod' and the devil, as introduced by Peter Millican and Timothy Chambers. I argue that the parody objection always fails, because any parody is either (i) not structurally parallel to the ontological argument, or (ii) not dialectically parallel to the ontological argument. Moreover, once a parody (...) argument is modified in such a way that it avoids (i) and (ii), it is, ironically, no longer a parody – it is the ontological argument itself. (shrink)
There is perhaps no more famous objection to the Ontological Argument than Kant’s contention that existence is not a predicate. However, this is not his only objection against the Ontological Argument. It is rather part of a more comprehensive attack on the OA, one that contains at least four distinct arguments, only one of which involves. It is the purpose of this paper to explore Kant’s case for, consider three contemporary strategies used to reinforce it, assess their merits, and then (...) finally briefly present Kant’s three further arguments. (shrink)
The beauty of Anselm’s ontological argument is, I believe, that no matter how one approaches it, one cannot refute it without making a significant metaphysical assumption, one that is likely to be contentious in its own right. Peter Millican disagrees. He introduces an objection according to which one can refute the argument merely by analysing its shallow logical details, without making any significant metaphysical assumption. He maintains, moreover, that his objection does not depend on a specific reading of the relevant (...) Anselmian text; in fact, Millican claims that his objection is applicable to every version of the ontological argument. In this paper, I argue that millican’s objection does not succeed, because, contrary to what he says, in order to justify his objection he does have to make a deep metaphysical assumption and rely on a specific reading of Anselm’s text. (shrink)
The paper is divided in two parts. In the first I consider the nature of Ryle's attack on Collingwood's appropriation of the ontological argument and Collingwood's defence in the unpublished correspondence. In the second, I go beyond the confines of the Ryle-Collingwood exchange in the mid 'thirties to say something much more general about the nature of Collingwood's metaphysics as well as to advance an explanation of the compatibility of Collingwood's combined defence of descriptive metaphysics and the ontological proof.
The ontological argument fails because of an operator order switch between (1) “necessarily there is an perfect being” and (2) “there is a being which necessarily is perfect”. Here (1) is trivially true logically but (2) problematic. Since Kant's criticisms were directed at the notion of existence, not at the step from (1) to (2), they are misplaced. They are also wrong, because existence can be a predicate. Moreover, Kant did not anticipate Frege's claim that “is” is ambiguous between existence, (...) predication, identity, and class‐inclusion. To restore the ontological argument, an extra premise is needed to the effect that it is known who the existentially perfect being is. The question is raised whether Kant could have meant the failure of this extra premise by his thesis that existence is not a real predicate. (shrink)
It is often said that the ontological argument fails because it wrongly treats existence as a first-level property or predicate. This has proved a controversial claim, and efforts to evaluate it are complicated by the fact that the words 'existence is not a property/predicate' have been used by philosophers to make at least three different negative claims: one about a first-level phenomenon possessed by objects like horses, stones, you and me; another about the logical form of assertions of existence; and (...) still another about a second-level phenomenon possessed by concepts when they are instantiated. I argue that only the last of these claims, originally voiced by Kant, is both plausible and relevant to the ontological argument. And I try to show that the relevance of the Kantian version comes from its providing the underlying justification for a different, and far less controversial, criticism of the ontological argument. (shrink)
CHARLES HARTSHORNE, in Anselm’s Discovery, begins his attempt to save the Ontological Argument by claiming that its latter half has been ‘conveniently ignored’ by its critics through nine centuries of debate. His own contentions center around a slightly updated version of Anselm’s ‘second’ Argument, as found in Proslogium III I paraphrase his reasoning as follows.
In his paper ‘Has the Ontological Argument Been Refuted?’, 97–110) William F. Vallicella argues that my attempt to show that the Ontological Argument begs the question is unsuccessful. 1 I believe he is wrong about this, but before endeavouring to vindicate my position I must first make clear what precisely is the point at issue between us. The Ontological Argument is not a single argument, but a family of arguments. Newly devised formulations of the argument are frequently put forward by (...) philosophers in an effort to avoid difficulties that have been pointed out in previous versions. As a consequence there is no possibility of a conclusive proof that every form of the argument embodies the same fallacy. Nevertheless, one can, I believe, prove that all the standard versions of the argument embody a certain fallacy and that, given the nature of the argument, it is therefore unlikely that the argument can be formulated in such a way as to avoid this difficulty. What I tried to show in my paper is that the six best-known versions of the argument all beg the question and that they do so at the same point in the argument, namely when it is asserted that it is possible that an absolutely perfect being exists. It is difficult to see how an ontological argument could be formulated without including this claim as one of its premises, since the distinguishing badge of the argument is the inference from the possibility of an absolutely perfect being to its actuality. It must be unlikely then, if my criticism of these six versions is correct, that there is any way of formulating the argument that avoids this fallacy. (shrink)