Well i have been having a discussion with a theist and he has just brought up the modal ontological argument. I have now done some research on modal logic and have sites marked to further educate myself on it, but i am still way to new to it to have any clue whether my argument holds water or not, and i would really apreciate some help.
the argument he used goes like this
"1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists."- him
to which, after very little research i replied with
"Now the modal ontological argument is not proof of anything .The modal ontological argument applies a string of logic but fails to test the logic. If the same string of logic can be used to come to an opposite conclusion, then the logic has been disproven through contradiction.
1) It is possible that a maximally great being does not exist.
2) If it is possible that a maximally great being does not exist, then a maximally great being does not exist in some possible world.
3) If a maximally great being does not exist in some possible world, then a maximally great being does not exist in any possible world.
4) If a maximally great being does not exist in every possible world, a maximally great being does not exist in the actual world.
5) If a maximally great being does not exist in the actual world, then a maximally great being does not exist.
6) Therefore maximally great being does not exist.
This uses the exact same logic to reach an opposite conclusion that is at odds with the original conclusion. This proves that the logic of the MOA is completely faulty and as such, illogical."-my reply
To which he replied
"The issue I hold that you does not effectively deny the rationality of there existing God. Here I would re-enter the absence of evidence ,does not, = evidence of absence argument. Due to the nature of the atheist's presuppositional base for the arguments against the existence of God, it undermines the evidences that are provided for the existence of God because to say there is no evidence for the existence of God suffices to say that the atheist's knows all possible proofs that God exists, which is logically absurd. This is what I meant with my ontological argument as a preface for the evidence of absence. There is enough rational proof for the existence of God and that's where Plantinga's argument comes into play. Philosophically, it is possible. Yes, you can flip the logic but I don't believe that's sufficient enough to prove the argument holistically false. The difference here is I am saying that a maximally great being is necessarily possible and not simply possible. The reason for providing Plantinga's argument in the first place is because I am meaning to exhibit that there are no logical objections to the maximally great being unless the objector can prove that to be false. Rendering us back to premise 1. that it is possible. " - hes reply
Now this is where i am at the moment. now form my limited understanding it seems the major problem with this argument is that it uses two different meanings for the word possibility and only gets away with this argument by confusing them. the one type of possibility has to do with something that is either true or false but which the laws of logic cannot say one way or the other . such as the possibility england will win tomorrows rugby match.
The other possibility seems to be a logical possibility, something that has always been either true or false and always will be either true or false and so then has to be neccesarily true or false. and the only reason we can call it a possibility is because we do not have the answer yet.
Now this is what i have come up with so far to answer back to what he replied just and i would like to know if it is valid or not
" what i am saying is that this argument proves nothing. lets us replace god with some other proposition which is possible and if true is neccaserily true for all possible worlds , but that we do not know the answer to. lets call it (x) and (x)= the statement that the 12 billionth and first digit of pi is a 7. now we dont know the answer so it is possible that (x) is true , and if true in any world it would be true in all worlds,so if true it is neccaseraly true. now i will use your exact same argument
1. It is possible that (x) is true
2. If it is possible that(x) is true , then (x) is true in some possible world.
3. If (x) is true in some possible world, then it true in every possible world.
4. If (x) is true in every possible world, then it true in the actual world.
5. If (x) is true in the actual world, then (x) is actualy true
6. Therefore, (x) must be true
Now we do not need to know the actual answer to be able to say this does not prove (x) is true. yes it is possible (x) true, there is a 1/10 chance it is, but this does not prove it is true and we do not need to be able to prove (x) is untrue to be able to say this does not prove anything."
Now this seems fine to me and the only objection i can think of is if , in modal logic, it is possible for worlds to exist where logical and mathematical truths are not true any longer. ie if there is a world where 2+2=563 or something
Also, from wikipedia:
From this groundwork, the theory of possible worlds became a central part of many philosophical developments, from the 1960s onwards – including, most famously, the analysis ofcounterfactual conditionals in terms of "nearby possible worlds" developed by David Lewis and Robert Stalnaker. On this analysis, when we discuss what would have happened if some set of conditions were the case, the truth of our claims is determined by what is true at the nearest possible world (or the set of nearest possible worlds) where the conditions obtain. (A possible world W1 is said to be near to another possible world W2 in respect of R to the degree that the same things happen in W1 and W2 in respect of R; the more different what happens in two possible worlds in a certain respect, the "further" they are from one another in that respect.) Consider this conditional sentence: "If George W. Bush hadn't become president of the U.S. in 2001, Al Gore would have." The sentence would be taken to express a claim that could be reformulated as follows: "In all nearest worlds to our actual world (nearest in relevant respects) where George W. Bush didn't become president of the U.S. in 2001, Al Gore became president of the U.S. then instead." And on this interpretation of the sentence, if there is some nearest world to the actual world (nearest in relevant respects) where George W. Bush didn't become president but Al Gore didn't either, then the claim expressed by this counterfactual would be false.
Today, possible worlds play a central role in many debates in philosophy, including especially debates over the Zombie Argument, and physicalism and supervenience in the philosophy of mind. Many debates in the philosophy of religion have been reawakened by the use of possible worlds. Intense debate has also emerged over the ontological status of possible worlds, provoked especially by David Lewis's defense of modal realism, the doctrine that talk about "possible worlds" is best explained in terms of innumerable, really existing worlds beyond the one we live in. The fundamental question here is: given that modal logic works, and that some possible-worlds semantics for modal logic is correct, what has to be true of the world, and just what are these possible worlds that we range over in our interpretation of modal statements? Lewis argued that what we range over are real, concrete worlds that exist just as unequivocally as our actual world exists, but that are distinguished from the actual world simply by standing in no spatial, temporal, or causal relations with the actual world. (On Lewis's account, the only "special" property that the actual world has is a relational one: that we are in it. This doctrine is called "the indexicality of actuality": "actual" is a merely indexical term, like "now" and "here".) Others, such as Robert Adams and William Lycan, reject Lewis's picture as metaphysically extravagant, and suggest in its place an interpretation of possible worlds as consistent, maximally complete sets of descriptions of or propositions about the world, so that a "possible world" is conceived of as a complete description of a way the world could be – rather than a world that is that way. (Lewis describes their position, and similar positions such as those advocated by Alvin Plantinga and Peter Forrest, as "ersatz modal realism", arguing that such theories try to get the benefits of possible worlds semantics for modal logic "on the cheap", but that they ultimately fail to provide an adequate explanation.)Saul Kripke, in Naming and Necessity, took explicit issue with Lewis's use of possible worlds semantics, and defended a stipulative account of possible worlds as purely formal (logical) entities rather than either really existent worlds or as some set of propositions or descriptions.
[Thanks Greg for suggesting a few introductory books on modal logic. I am getting convinced that it'll be a good thing if I am to gain some basic understanding of this stuff.]
Seconded! I'm going to do some additional reading too.
cheers my friend.
Where have you heard it in academia? Show me the source. From what I can tell you just openly dismissed what I pasted for no reason without argument.
Appealing to authority is not a fallacy. Appealing to illegitimate authority is. Human beings have to appeal to authority everytime they go to the doctor or get their car worked on. Without authority to appeal to, society would crumble. A creationist could retort to you saying that evolution was true is a logical fallacy because you yourself are not a biologist and are appealing to the work of scholars. If you tried to link them to info they could just dismiss that info out of hand.
Also I find your "appeal to knowledge" curious. Dictionary.com defines knowledge as:
WTF, I gotta lay down after reading that...lol.
Simply reasoning something into existence without any credible evidence to support that claim (notice I didn’t say no evidence, because there’s plenty of poor “evidence” that gets thrown around) doesn’t make it believable. So, your friend has come to the conclusion, through the use of logic, that such a being does exist. I’d say fine, for the sake of argument, concede the point and ask him to present evidence that supports its existence. This argument alone isn’t proof of existence any more than your counter argument is proof of non-existence. Perhaps you should remind him that most atheists accept the (remote)possibility that some god may exist, but in the absence of convincing/credible evidence, have no reason to believe it.
The type of argument/ discussion you’re engaged in with your friend always seem like a pointless exercise in mental masturbation. Personally, I think the physical act is a more worthwhile pursuit.
Replying to Kir's post here.
several of your posts seem to start with straw men arguments about my motive or purpose in my posts.
Well then that's a problem Kir for a couple of reasons. First, never once did I comment on your motive or the purpose of your post, only the quality of your critique vis a vis the argument in question and modal logic. Second, you can't strawman a motive or the purpose of a post. The strawman fallacy is the informal logical fallacy committed when someone attacks an argument their opponent is not making.
It takes the form:
Nowhere have I done this.
And I think you are veering off topic again.
It has been experience when reading your posts that you use this as a canard to deflect criticism of your position. If someone critiques your position, you ignore the critique and simply insist that it isn't on the topic. Of course I may be absolutely wrong but even if I am, this is neverthelss the appearance it has.
But anyway, there could be no more important topic than what I'm discussing. The argument is the MODAL ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT. And yet you are critiquing the argument as if it is not referring to modalities but actual worlds. You fundamentally misunderstand the argument. You fundamentally lack the understanding of modal logic to be able to understand not only that your critique is without merit but even what those who are pointing out that your critique is without merit are even talking about. There is no more "on topic" a topic to discuss than this.
This was being made with respect to the existence of a god, or at least that is the presumed context of this discussion and it is, in fact, the words used in the statement ("maximally great being"). You are appealing to “modal logic” without also appealing, as you must, to reality.
LOL. See! This is what I mean! I'm not "appealing to 'modal logic'". The argument IS the Modal Ontological Argument.
Sigh. Let's go all the way to beginning with an examination of the argument in the most simple terms.
The argument says: ON THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THERE ARE POSSIBLE WORLDS OTHER THAN THE ACTUAL WORLD (NOT that there ARE other actual worlds, only that there ARE OTHER POSSIBLE WORLDS, that ON THE UNDERSTANDING THAT A MAXIMALLY GREAT BEING IS LOGICALLY POSSIBLE (i.e. there is nothing LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE about such a being defined ONLY as a maximally great being), then that being exists in SOME POSSIBLE WORLD.
Now, let's make sure that we can agree that, if you flip a coin an infinite number of times, you will at some point go on a run of 1,000 (or a million or a billion, etc.) heads in a row. Assuming you're able to accept this simple implication of probabilities (that given enough time and trials, even the most infinitesimal probabilities will converge on 1 [obtain]), then if you have an infinite number of possible worlds (and it's easy to see that you do given the infinite number of ways that a possible world could vary from one to the next), and you have a being that is logically possible (meaning there is nothing logically impossible about said being), and since there's nothing logically impossible about a maximally great being, then this being exists in some possible world just like you're going to get 1,000 heads in a row given enough trials.
First let's have you agree on that. Once you can understand this you can then critique the argument on the argument's terms as a Modal Ontological argument. Otherwise, as I continue to say, you're critique has no merit.
Alright. It's totally evident that it's useless to discuss this with you. LOL.
We're talking about the Modal Ontological Argument. If you're interested in discussing something different then you should do that elsewhere. But if you're interested in discussing the argument in question or modal logic in general then I urge you to do so. But first you'll have to understand at least a modicum of modal logic in order to bring a critique that has a hope of making sense. Otherwise you're out in the weeds just lobbing word salad at the wall in the hopes of making philosophical-sounding language come off as profound enough that no one notices that it says absolutely nothing against the argument. Trouble is, there are many of us here that aren't your typical someones; we know enough to notice. And so the only thing left to you is to repeat "Off topic!" like it's a mantra.
I've tried to help you understand Kir. There's only so much obscurantism a person can take, however. So...
Problem with "every possible world": one absolutely possible world would be one which is totally bereft of life of any sort, physical OR spiritual. I think that ***ks up the argument pretty badly right there.
Also, one perpetual problem with all ontological arguments is that whatever that being is is God. Now, is that Jehovah or Allah or Krishna or Ahura Mazda? You see, this is what renders the ontological argument unmoving for so many people, who don't want to be convinced that SOME deity exists, but that THEIR deity exists. That is one thing the ontological argument fails to do miserably.
You see, this is what renders the ontological argument unmoving for so many people, who don't want to be convinced that SOME deity exists, but that THEIR deity exists.
True, but it's an important step. First prove there is *a* god, then prove that God is whichever one you prefer. William Lane Craig (I know, bad example) does this: ontological argument to prove there is a god, then uses the "evidence" of Jesus' resurrection to "prove" it's the Christian God.
Yeah, but like I said, "one absolutely possible world would be one which is totally bereft of life of any sort, physical OR spiritual." The argument falls flat on its face right there.