Crticisms of the Ontological Argument

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  • Criticisms of the Ontological Argument
    • Kant's 1st criticism
      • Existence isn't  a predicate.
        • By saying it exists doesn't add any value to an object.
          • saying something "simply" exists doesn't add anything to the definition of something
        • For example, by saying someone is "small" it adds to our understanding of them but by saying they exist doesn't
    • Gaunilo's criticism of the first form
      • Used the analogy of the perfect island in his book 'On behalf of the fool'
      • Argued that if you can imagine the most perfect island, then since it is perfect and existence is a part of its perfection then it must exist
        • Otherwise, the grottiest island would be better than the imaginary perfect island because it actually infact, exists
    • Kant's 2nd criticism
      • Used an analogy of coins
      • Pointed out that existing in reality doesn't add anything to the idea that exists in imagination
      • You do not add anything to the definition of coins by saying they are real, not imaginary
        • An imaginary pile of a hundred gold coins will have the same number in it as a real pile
          • Because the 'existence' of real money adds nothing to the number of the coins he said "existence is not a predicate"
            • Adding 'and exists' onto the end of a word 'money' or 'dog' or 'car' doesn't change its defintion
      • So if you can't accept existence as a predicate when talking of coins, why should we make a special case when talking of God?
    • Bertrand Russel
      • He says: "Existence isn't a predicate as if it were, we could construct this argument"
        • Men exist, Santa is a man, therefore Santa exists
          • Therefore; existence isn't a property of things.
            • It is a rather numerical concept: comparing cows and unicorns brings you to the point that there are many cows but no unicorns
              • Existence is not a quality or attribute that unicorns lack
    • David Hume
      • Hume said in Dialogues concerning natural religion that: However much our concept of an object may contain, we must go outside of it to determine whether or not it exists.
      • We cannot define something into existence - even if it has all the perfections we can imagine
    • Descartes
      • God is a supremely perfect being, existence is a perfection, therefore God must exist
      • Uses a triangle to back his argument up. It has necessary predicates, the angles add up to 180
        • This is an analytic statement, if any predicates are removed, the triangle is no longer a triangle




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