Modern Forms on Ontological Arg

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Norman Malcolm

While Anselm's first argument cannot treat existence as a predicate, second can b/c of 'necessary'. 

 1) God is a supremely perfect being.

2) A supremely perfect being possesses every perfection.

3) Necessary existence is a perfection.

4) T/f, God possesses necessary existence.

5) God necessarily exists.

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Alvin Plantinga

'Possible worlds'

Maximally great being, only so if exists in every poss world.

Maximal excellence: M.G entails M.E incl. omnipotence, omniscience + moral perf.

1) There is a poss world in which there is a being that is maximally great.

2) If M.G, exists in our world.

3) Being has M.E, as M.G entails M.E.

4) So, there is a omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect in our world.

5) There is a God.

Obj to this: We are still only looking at the possibility, nothing in actuality. - Maximal excellence possible.

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Betrand Russell


Anselm used 'exist' wrongly. Can't be predicate. Can be given to fictional things as well.

1) Donkey's exist.

2) Eeyore is a donkey.

3) Eeyore exists. 

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  • Quite unsuccessful.
  • Definitions limited - say things in terms of the possibility, not real.
  • Difficulty in establishing definition for God - limited to finite human terms not adequate to describe God.
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