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Author Topic:   Ontological arguments - where's the beef?
Bailey
Member (Idle past 2564 days)
Posts: 574
From: Earth
Joined: 08-24-2003


Message 46 of 74 (632265)
09-06-2011 6:02 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by cavediver
09-03-2011 4:59 PM


Regarding Confidence Tricks ..
My first impression was simple confirmation of something I had long suspected: logic in the hands of philosophers tends to result in the use of very precise and well defined rules to push around exceptionally nebulous and ill-defined concepts. The ideas of maximal goodness, maximal greatness, maximal perfection, etc, suggest extremely naive one-dimensional thinking, almost certainly inspired by the age-old tenets of the faith held by the philosopher in question.

In all fairness though, while these fellas may have been working from a seemingly primitive framework which was readily available to them in their time, albeit nostalgic, I remain more apprehensive of their intent, rather than content.

Those exceptionally nebulous and ill-defined concepts, be what they are, become most certainly useful, and especially so, when utilized in conjunction with a demonstrable use of dishonest or naïve predicates within one’s argumentation

My second impression, primarily from reading Plantinga and associated apologetics (e.g. William Land Craig), is just how blatently dishonest the argument appears. The bait-and-switch on the term "possible" is a text-book case. The modern Plantinga argument (put into readable english) is:

- It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
- If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
- If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
- If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
- If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
- Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

The possible of the first line looks innocuous enough, and on a generous day some of us may even make grudging acceptance. Possible is this context tends to be taken as "not definitely impossible". BUT the use of possible in the second line is very different. This is now the "possible" of modal logic, with very different meaning: something that is "possible" must occur in some plausible example of existance (the "possible world" mentioned.)

If we agree up front that the first "possible" is in the colloquial sense, then the argument fails immediately as the "possible"s of lines 1 and 2 are now different. If it is in the modal logic sense, then we have essentially begged the question, as we have essentially agreed as premise that this "maximally great being" is necessary.

And finally (for now), the "possible worlds" of modal logic are a perfectly sound concept when looking at strictly defined systems with specific parameter spaces, but their applicability is extremely questionable when it comes to considering possible examples of Existence. We even have no surety that there is any such thing as a possible example of existence that is not our own!

I give you a lot of credit for spending the time to review these arguments and consider whether they may be something more than simple confidence tricks. That said, there’s an overwhelming sense that a ‘bait & switch’ analysis offers this argument a bit more credit than may be due.

After all, there’s simply no path of logic to suggest the concept argued necessitates the extra-mental reality of a ‘maximally great being’. As those before me have mentioned, we can visualize the most perfect island and spectacular in every regard; however, there’s nothing about our understanding of such an island which might force us to admit or proclaim it actually exists. I think PaulK summed it up well in stating there are less bad ontological arguments, but all are flawed.

So, am I missing something?

Perhaps just the gentle reassurance that most of these arguments are antiquated parlor routines drummed up by faithless heretics searching for a means to convince themselves (through convincing others) they’re not damned, but rather you are.

For example, before Plantinga, Anselm attempted to simply define his maximally greatest being into existence, which - of course, isn't rationally legitimate. While the faults within his argument do nothing to establish there isn't a maximally great being, so to speak, the argument can not be employed to convince a non-believer to believe on logical grounds.

(peeks behind curtain) Unless we pretend existence is known as a predicate of a subject, existence isn't something we can know from a mere idea itself, which is why we call upon independent confirmation through experience. (clicks heels 3 times)

His argument simply doesn't meet a standard which assumes that the burden of proof demanding any positive claim asserting there's a being such as he and his contemporaries posit should be established by reason and evidence. Rather, the argument sets the standard that 'if i can think it, it exists', which turns out to be an epic fail.

So while agnostics, atheists, deists and theists may all employ argument's of this nature to establish the logical possibility that a maximally great being exists (as well as, often the reverse) - or at least that it's rational to believe in the possibility that there is such a being, the argument does not establish any degree of probability at all.

And so, if establishing any degree of probability whatsoever was the goal of such an argument's designer, it turns out to be another epic fail. Again, I don't think you're missing anything but some gentle reassurance - sleep well my friend

One Love


I'm not here to mock or condemn what you believe, tho my intentions are no less than to tickle your thinker.
If those in first century CE had known what these words mean ... 'I want and desire mercy, not sacrifice'
They surely would not have murdered the innocent; why trust what I say, when you can learn for yourself?
Think for yourself.

Mercy Trumps Judgement,
Love Weary


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Dawn Bertot
Member
Posts: 3571
Joined: 11-23-2007


Message 47 of 74 (632266)
09-06-2011 6:40 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by Modulous
09-06-2011 5:24 PM


Re: my short response:
Establishing that it doesn't contradict itself doesn't show that it is in fact possible

It does if its only one of two possibilites, there is nothing left, atleast logically

I dont see how it could be otherwise, other than to simply disagree, which you are doing and that is fine, but its not an actual argument to demonstrate that its not true, 'possible' that is

Simple disagrement is not the same as showing that possible does not mean possible, even if you disagree with its tenets leading to that conclusion. The fact that it is possible is enough to demonstrate that the possibility is real in and of itself, without corroborating evidence to your approval

Huuuh, Whaaaat?

Dawn Bertot


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Dawn Bertot
Member
Posts: 3571
Joined: 11-23-2007


Message 48 of 74 (632268)
09-06-2011 6:45 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by Modulous
09-06-2011 5:24 PM


Re: my short response:
Establishing that it doesn't contradict itself doesn't show that it is in fact possible

It does if its only one of two possibilites, there is nothing left, atleast logically

I dont see how it could be otherwise, other than to simply disagree, which you are doing and that is fine, but its not an actual argument to demonstrate that its not true, 'possible' that is

Simple disagrement is not the same as showing that possible does not mean possible, even if you disagree with its tenets leading to that conclusion. The fact that it is possible is enough to demonstrate that the possibility is real in and of itself, without corroborating evidence to your approval

Huuuh, Whaaaat?

Dawn Bertot


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 Message 45 by Modulous, posted 09-06-2011 5:24 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

    
Dawn Bertot
Member
Posts: 3571
Joined: 11-23-2007


Message 49 of 74 (632269)
09-06-2011 6:51 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by Modulous
09-06-2011 5:24 PM


Re: my short response:
Do you know that it is not impossible.

Yes, by the mere fact that things exist at all and knowing it is only one of two rational explanations

It impossible for both of those two to be impossible. hence since either is possible both are possible,

without further investigation or someones approval

Dawn Bertot


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caffeine
Member
Posts: 1677
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008
Member Rating: 6.2


Message 50 of 74 (632332)
09-07-2011 6:21 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by cavediver
09-03-2011 4:59 PM


I first came across the ontological argument (in the form of Anselm) in Religious Studies class when I was 16, and my immediate reaction was, "that's a load of bollocks". However, I was assured repeatedly that all sorts of clever people were impressed by it - even when I went on to study philosophy at university, lecturers were informing me there's more to the argument if you don't look at it superficially. Theists loved trotting out that old story about David Hume walking down the street and proclaiming in shock that the ontological argument is sound!

So, with all this encouragement, I read more, and thought about the arguments for several years. Eventually, I came to the realisation that I had nailed it as a 16-year-old, and for exactly the same reasons.

The Googlesplat is defined as a giant, pink fire-breathing unicorn that necessarily exists.

The Googlesplat exists by definition.

Nevertheless, the Googlesplat does not, in fact, exist.

This is all that's necessary to see why ontological arguments are steaming piles of horseshit, and all the reams of text written to justify them is simply empty hand-waving. Don't be too hard on philosophers in general though - ever since Anselm's day plenty of professional philosophers have laughed derisively at such nonsense.


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 298 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 51 of 74 (632362)
09-07-2011 11:27 AM
Reply to: Message 47 by Dawn Bertot
09-06-2011 6:40 PM


Re: my short response:
I dont see how it could be otherwise, other than to simply disagree, which you are doing and that is fine, but its not an actual argument to demonstrate that its not true, 'possible' that is

There is a third option: We do not know if it is possible or impossible. Neither has been established and so neither should be claimed.

I do not claim that God is impossible. I just claim that it has not been sufficiently established that it is possible.


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Taq
Member
Posts: 7971
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 52 of 74 (632385)
09-07-2011 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by Dawn Bertot
09-06-2011 4:31 PM


Re: my short response:
If it is not impossible of course its possible

It is also possible that the entity does not exist.

either way its very possible

Why "very"?

It is also possible that order and laws were not the product of an MGB. If this is possible in one possible world, then it is possible in all possible worlds. This means that the MGB did not produce the order and laws that we see. Wow, this argument works better than I had ever hoped . . .


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Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 53 of 74 (632393)
09-07-2011 6:38 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by cavediver
09-03-2011 4:59 PM


Other Applications; Ontology.
Cavediver writes:

My first impression was simple confirmation of something I had long suspected: logic in the hands of philosophers tends to result in the use of very precise and well defined rules to push around exceptionally nebulous and ill-defined concepts. The ideas of maximal goodness, maximal greatness, maximal perfection, etc, suggest extremely naive one-dimensional thinking, almost certainly inspired by the age-old tenets of the faith held by the philosopher in question.

My second impression, primarily from reading Plantinga and associated apologetics (e.g. William Land Craig), is just how blatently dishonest the argument appears. The bait-and-switch on the term "possible" is a text-book case. The modern Plantinga argument (put into readable english) is:

- It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
- If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
- If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
- If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
- If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
- Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

Ontological arguments can be applied to other things being/existing as well as to deity.

IMO, physicists sometimes unwittingly rely heavily upon it so as to arrive at theory. Scientific conclusions are too often reached ontologically.

The above ontological example models the zero premise to BB theory. It does so by applying the relative uniformity assumption that the alleged zero event eventually ontologically progressed from the compressed alleged sub-microscopic chaos to bloom/expand into all of the present observable order, more than it models the Biblical record evidence for the existence of Jehovah, the maximal Biblical god designer.

Edited by Buzsaw, : Tidy up wording

Edited by Buzsaw, : Rewrite for clarity


BUZSAW B 4 U 2 C Y BUZ SAW.
The Immeasurable Present Eternally Extends the Infinite Past And Infinitely Consumes The Eternal Future.

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jar
Member
Posts: 31065
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 54 of 74 (632396)
09-07-2011 7:14 PM
Reply to: Message 53 by Buzsaw
09-07-2011 6:38 PM


Re: Other Applications; Ontology.
Buz writes:

The above ontological example models the zero premise to the BB as well as the relative uniformity assumption that the alleged zero event eventually ontologically progressed from the compressed the alleged sub-microscopic chaos to bloom/expand into all of the present observable order, mores than it models the Biblical record evidence; logic and the existence of a maximal designer deity as depicted in the Biblical record.

HUH?

You mean the maximal designer deity that had to figure out what a suitable helpmeet for Adam would be by trial and error?


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 1824 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


(1)
Message 55 of 74 (632401)
09-07-2011 9:14 PM
Reply to: Message 51 by Modulous
09-07-2011 11:27 AM


possible=shown?
By your terms, NOTHING is possible unless it is shown. How do you know it is possible for you to draw a King of Hearts until you do it? And for that matter you don't know if its possible for you to draw a King of Hearts from a deck of cards ever again. Maybe it is no longer possible. Maybe you can only draw a King of hearts 3 times and then after that it is impossible.

You are basing your definition of possible on having seen it or done it before. That means everything that you have not seen or done before is not possible.


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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 56 of 74 (632402)
09-07-2011 9:22 PM
Reply to: Message 55 by Bolder-dash
09-07-2011 9:14 PM


Re: possible=shown?
By your terms, NOTHING is possible unless it is shown.

Well, imagine it from the contrary perspective. How do you propose to tell the difference between the things that are possible but haven't happened yet, and the things that haven't yet happened because they're impossible and will therefore never happen?

You can make reference to a wider body of knowledge, say physics, and conclude that a certain thing is likely not possible because it would mean that all our physics knowledge is wrong. But it's likely that our physics is wrong, at least partially, so what does that prove?

Epistemological modesty means making the minimal, most defensible conclusions.

Edited by crashfrog, : Autocorrect error.


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Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 57 of 74 (632403)
09-07-2011 9:43 PM
Reply to: Message 56 by crashfrog
09-07-2011 9:22 PM


Re: possible=shown?
crashfrog writes:

Epidemiological modesty means making the minimal, most defensible conclusions.

Say what? Please decipher the connection for us.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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crashfrog
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 58 of 74 (632405)
09-07-2011 10:00 PM
Reply to: Message 57 by Buzsaw
09-07-2011 9:43 PM


Re: possible=shown?
Please decipher the connection for us.

Epistemological modesty means not concluding any more than what there is evidence for.

I realize you don't understand it. It gets back to your problem with evidence: you don't understand what it means when a proposition is supported by evidence. That's a connection you simply have no capacity to understand. (For instance, when asked to open a thread about what sorts of evidence would support propositions about the supernatural, you opened a thread that was nothing but a list of people who didn't believe you had presented evidence. When it was pointed out to you that that's not the same thing, you made accusations of oppression and fled.) That's because you're not a person who arrives at positions based on the evidence; you're a person who arrives at a position on the basis of what the other people in your tribe seem to think.

Prediction: you'll respond to this post by accusing me of oppressing you in some way.

Edited by crashfrog, : Autocorrect error.


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 298 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 59 of 74 (632407)
09-07-2011 10:19 PM
Reply to: Message 55 by Bolder-dash
09-07-2011 9:14 PM


Re: possible=shown?
How do you know it is possible for you to draw a King of Hearts until you do it?

I know based on the evidence that I am holding a standard pack of cards. I might be wrong, of course.

You are basing your definition of possible on having seen it or done it before. That means everything that you have not seen or done before is not possible.

No, I just ask that if you are going to say it is possible, you have to show that it's possible.

In order to know it is possible that I pull out the King of Hearts all I have to do is show that by the rules of card markings, one of the cards must be the King of Hearts. There are four suits in a standard deck, hearts is amongst them. They are labelled A-10 then J Q K. Therefore, amongst the possibility space for a deck of cards is one that has the heart suit with the King rank. With some reasonable tentativity we now know it is possible.

In order to know if God is possible, you have to know the rules that govern reality. From those rules you should be able to see if God is permitted by them. If God is permitted by the rules of reality, then it is indeed possible, within realms of reasonable tentativity.

That is a difficult task, of course, but if you aren't up for the challenge, I urge you to take back the claim that God is possible and instead use the phrase 'God is not ruled out by anything we know', which is the more correct phrasing and consequently dissolves the ontological argument.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16097
Joined: 07-20-2006


(1)
Message 60 of 74 (632409)
09-07-2011 11:11 PM
Reply to: Message 58 by crashfrog
09-07-2011 10:00 PM


Re: possible=shown?
Epidemiological modesty means not concluding any more than what there is evidence for.

Epistemological. Epidemiology is something else altogether.


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