The Instigator
shift4101
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Double_R
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

The Ontological Argument

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Double_R
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/18/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,945 times Debate No: 19353
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (17)
Votes (2)

 

shift4101

Pro

My position: The Ontological Argument is sound.

A while ago, I debated a user named 'izbo10' about this very topic and lost. I conceded my position, and left the site for a while, forfeiting a few debates I had going.

Anyways, I have reassessed the argument and still believe the Ontological Argument is a wonderful and sound piece of work to lead us towards our Abramic-creator, whichever one that may be. The argument that will be discussed will be the following:

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.

My opponent may present his arguments against the OA in the next round. I look forward to my opponents opening, and hope this debate remains as friendly and as casual as possible.
Double_R

Con

Thanks to Pro for instigating this debate. My opponent states that he looks forward to my opening, thus I assume he is fine with me going first.

Argument against the OA

The resolution states that the Ontological argument (illustrated in round one) is sound. For this argument to be sound, the conclusion must flow logically from the premise. However when looking at the argument I find that a major flaw with it stands out, which can be easily highlighted by removing points 2-5 and looking at the premise and the conclusion:

1.
It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

Premise 1 begins by stating that the existence of a maximally great being is possible, which is true. Anything is possible. This is possible only because we can not prove that it is impossible. However, our own inability as human beings to disprove the existence of a maximally great being does not lead us to conclude that a maximally great being must exist. If we begin to follow this argument step by step it only takes us to point 2 to see where the error is:

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.

In order to conclude that a maximally great being exists in some possible world we must first prove that it in fact exists, however point 2 of this argument skipped that process and jumped straight to the conclusion. From there, points 2-6 simply use the assumption that a maximally great being exists, to arrive at the conclusion that a maximally great being exists. This is a fundamental error in logic which clearly negates the resolution that this argument is sound. Pro however can still claim that point 2 is valid because "some possible world" is not yet assumed itself. So let's take a look at point 3:

3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

In this point we are still talking about possibilities.

4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

This point would be our next major error. The argument simply jumps from possible to actual with no justification. The flaw is difficult to realize at first because the term "every possible world" is being used in two different contexts from point 3 to 4. Point 3 uses the term in a hypothetical sense, by focusing on the word "possible". Point 4 uses the term in an actual sense, which point 3 never established. Because the premise of point 4 was never established, the remaining argument is not logically sound.
Debate Round No. 1
shift4101

Pro


Thank you Double_R for accepting my debate!

Explaining the argument

(P1)
It is possible that a maximally great being exists.

As my opponent states in his first contention, "Anything is possible". This first premise heavily relies on that notion. Even if by some means my opponent would disprove the possibility of a maximal existence, it is still possible that the logic used to disprove maximal existence is false, making it again possible that maximal existence is possible. So premise 1 is correct by all means.

(P2)
If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

To some, this premise might seem like quite a leap, going from simply "possible" to "actual in some possible world". However, the argument is not stating that a maximally great being exists on some other world like Mars, nor is it stating that he actually exists at all. It simply reiterates that he possibly exists.

An example of this that is popular in physics is Schrödinger' s cat. If you were to place a cat inside of a bunker with a bomb strapped to it, which's timer was randomly set to explode at any time, and sealed the cat in, you could not know if the bomb went off and if the cat died until you opened the bunker to check. So until you do open the bunker, the cat must maintain the traits of both being dead and alive. However, something cannot be dead and alive at the same time, so our world is one of two possible worlds; one where the cat is alive, and one where the cat is dead. This is not expressing that the cat is actually dead or alive, but simply reiterating possibility in a new context, while still relating it to the actual world.

(P3)
If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

This premise is usually where the key defense lies for someone who advocates the arguments truth. What exemplifies the maximally great being from one possible world to another, much less all of them? This is where maximal greatness comes into play.

Necessary existence entails more greatness than possible existence. But so far, the maximally great being only entails possible existence. But since the maximally great being is maximally great, and exists in some possible world, it follows that it is necessary that he exists in the possible world in which he exists. But if it is necessary he exists in a possible world, then what possible variables could impede him from necessarily existing in any possible world? None, because that would mean that those variables could stop that being from being maximal. Then you could simply imagine a greater being who would not be impeded by such variables and continue to exist necessarily in every possible world. So the maximally great being necessarily exists in every possible world.

(P4)
If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

Since our world is apart of all possible worlds, and not separate, it can be concluded that the maximally great being exists in our world as well.

(P5)
If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.

This is really a no-brainer. If something exists in the actual world, then it exists.

(Conclusion)
Therefore a maximally great being exists.

Refutations

My opponents first problem with the argument is the flow between premises 1 $ 2. However, the argument does not state that a maximally great being exists, but only reiterates how it is possible. I believe my above explanation in (P2) is adequate.

My opponents next problem is "possible" in premises 3 & 4. Quite a unique objection to the argument, one I admittedly have never heard before. As I have always understood it, our actual world is included in the list of possible worlds that P3 is talking about. So for now, I do not understand your objection, and I urge you to reiterate it with more depth in our next round.
Double_R

Con

Thanks Pro for the response. With only a few hours left to post your argument I thought you had ran off again. I am glad to see that this was not the case.

Pro asks that I reiterate my objection to P3 and P4 in this round which I will certainly do. But to start off, I will broadly state that I believe the reason why this argument appears to be convincing is because of some very clever usage of vocabulary, which masks its own errors. These are the very same errors that Pro made in his response to my argument.

Many words or phrases in any languages can have multiple meanings. For example; in the phrases “your too kind”, and “can I come too?”, the word “too” means something very different. First it was meant as “excessive”, in the second phrase it was meant as “also”. But as our language is so natural to us, we don’t even realize the discrepancy without having to stop and think about it. Keep this concept in mind.

Let’s also look at what makes a syllogism logically sound. In this case the argument follows a step by step process that uses and underlying premise to form a conclusion, and uses that conclusion as the premise for the next conclusion. It basically looks like this:

1. Underlying premise = conclusion.
2. If P1 conclusion then P2 conclusion.
3. If P2 conclusion then P3 conclusion etc…

As you can see this style of connecting logical conclusions works, but does so only if the premise of one statement begins with the conclusion of the previous statement. Now let’s take only the phrases from each statement of this argument and lay them out:

1. Possible
2. if Possible then some possible world
3. if some possible world then every possible world
4. If every possible world then our actual world
5. If our actual world then exists
6. Exists

As I stated, each statement must begin with the same conclusion in the statement before. Therefore the phrase “some possible world” which concludes P2 must have the exact same meaning in the beginning of P3. If it has a different meaning in P3, then P3 begins with a premise that has not been logically justified, therefore the argument is not sound.

P2:
Pro states that P2 does not make the leap I alleged, but instead simply reiterates that the existence of a maximally great being is possible. That is fine, however if that is the case then the phrase “some possible world” in P2 is not assumed to exist either otherwise the conclusion is not justified.

P3:
Since “some possible world” is not assumed to exist then “every possible world” can not be referring to anything actual otherwise P3 is saying that because something is possible then it must be actual. To keep this argument sound “every possible world” must be nothing more then a possibility as well.

P4:
Since “every possible world” is referring only to possibilities, we can not use it to say that a maximally great being exists in our actual world. In order to make the logical connection in P4 work we have to change the meaning of “every possible world” from one of a simple possibility that it was forced to mean in P3, to meaning all actual worlds at the start of P4. Changing the definition at the start of a premise means using a premise that has not been justified and simply assuming it, which is exactly what this argument does. And since this argument assumes the existence of a maximally great being without justification, the argument is not sound.

Challenge to Pro

If Pro still believes that this argument is sound, he must provide a specific definition of each of the following phrases, and show how his definitions remain constant throughout the argument. Specifically, whether the phrase is assumed to exist or simply implies a possibility:

1) Some possible world
2) Every Possible world
3) Our actual world
Debate Round No. 2
shift4101

Pro

A thanks to Double_R for expanding on his contention. After a while of thought, I came up with two rebuttals to that specific contention. Here's the first 4 premises:

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.

Rebuttal 1: Maxmial Greatness

Lets assume a maximally great being does exist in some possible world. But such a maximally great being would not be limited to the realms of possibility, so any possible world where he did not exist would be absurd, paridoxial, and non-existant. Therefore, he exists in every possible world.

This, I think, is the argument CON is contending. However, for my above explination to be correct, it would reopen Con's first contention, that P2 simply jumps to the fact that he does exist, and provides no support for that notion. I could simply reply that the argument literally talks about 2 real, abstract worlds that exist. But this would then open Con's second contention again, that the vocabulary in P3 and P4 are drastically different.

So either way, I cannot defend this notion without reopening more holes within the argument. The OA with this argument does not logically lead to the conclusion. So here is my actual rebuttal:

Rebuttal 2: Necessary

Lets assume our world is one of two possible worlds. These worlds are almost exactly alike, except that in one a maximally great being exists and in the other no maximally great being exists. Also, let it be noted that a maximally great being would have the quality of being necessary. So if we look at the world where a maximally great being exists, and exists necessarily, that world is not absurd nor paridoxial. But now if we look at the world where he doesn't exist, but is still necessary, that world would be absurd and paridoxial. Therefore, the notion that a maximally great being does not exist is absurd.

1. A maximally great being would have the quality of being necessary for the world to exist.
2. A maximally great being is necessary for the world to exist.
3. A world where a maximally great being does not exist does not fill a necessary requirement for the worlds existence.
4. It is absurd to think something exists when a necessary component for it's existence is missing.
5. It is absurd to think no maximally great being exists.

After this logic, P2 flows to P3 and P3 to P4 perfectly. However, an obvious objection to this case is "Why does the world where a maximally great being does not exist require one to exist?" At this point my character space is limited so I will simply direct you to Axiom S5 Modal Logic, which states the following:

If possibly P, the necessarily possibly P.
If possibly necessarily P, the necessarily P.

If my opponent wishes for me to expound on this, he may do so in his next round. Until then, I now hand over to my opponent.
Double_R

Con

The resolution states that the Ontological Argument is sound. In round one Pro specifically laid out the argument he intended to defend but after my last rebuttal, Pro now responds with a new argument. While I reject the soundness of his new argument and would like to debate it, that is not the resolution and I don’t think the readers care to read two debates if they are only going to judge one.


Pro already stated that the OA as presented does not lead to the conclusion. Therefore he already admitted that he has lost this debate. If Pro wishes to continue then he must explain how his “necessary” rebuttal is relevant to the resolution.

Debate Round No. 3
shift4101

Pro

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.

My opponent claims that I am no longer defending the ontological argument. However, this debate is obviously centered around the vocabulary used in premise 3. Looking at premise 3, someone without the capacity to imagine how such a premise comes to be, would find it nonsensical and dismiss the argument altogether.

Both of my rebuttals were simply explanations of how P3 is true. The first rebuttal was the one you were attacking (I believe), that the argument works because of the nature of a MGB doesn't make sense. The second rebuttal is the position I stand, which is the concept of necessity. I only included the premises because after re-reading what I wrote, it didn't seem to make much sense. But all the information is the same.

Both of my rebuttals simply reiterated how P3 transitions properly without flaw, simply two different ways of looking at the same thing. The first one admittedly doesn't make sense and is full of holes, while the second, using Axiom S5 modal logic, transitions fine. There is no vocabulary error that has been pointed out so far.

Unless there is further disagreement on your part, I believe there are still enough rounds left to continue debating.
Double_R

Con

Pro claims that his concept of necessity is relevant to this debate, apparently because it is a quality of an MGB and is therefore consistent throughout the argument. This however is simply an addition to the same argument which was made before.

1.
A maximally great being would have the quality of being necessary for the world to exist.

I can accept this statement as being true, it would. Assuming of course that it does in fact exist.

2.
A maximally great being is necessary for the world to exist.

How do we come to this conclusion? So far Pro has shown that an MGB has the quality of being necessary, but to establish that this quality itself exists we must first establish that an MGB exists. This is what the entire OA argument is about, yet it is once again assumed in the very premise that is used to conclude it.

3.
A world where a maximally great being does not exist does not fill a necessary requirement for the worlds existence.

At no point has Pro justified this statement. To suggest that the world can not exist without an MGB is to again, assume that an MGB exists in the first place.

4.
It is absurd to think something exists when a necessary component for it's existence is missing.

Same point.

5.
It is absurd to think no maximally great being exists.

It is, being that you have already assumed its existence as your explanation for the world’s existence.

Summary

Pro has presented a clarification to the definition of an MGB, which included the concept of necessity. If an MGB does exist then it follows that an MGB would be necessary for the world to exist because the MGB would now become our accepted reason for how the world came into existence. However since we do not know with any certainty how the world did come into existence, we have no basis (nor has Pro provided us with any) of what is in fact necessary for the world to exist. Therefore necessity at this point is nothing more then an assumed quality of an assumed being.

I still do not believe this argument of necessity bares any relevance to the debate itself, but its logic is still flawed. If there is one thing that I think has been made clear, it is the fact that at some point in this argument Pro will have to assume the existence of an MGB in order to conclude that an MGB exists. It is easy to see this coming with the first premise, which is simply that its existence is possible. In the end this argument still does not lead to its conclusion and is therefore not sound.

The necessity argument is one that can be utilized as support for belief in an MGB, however that is not the debate. We are not debating whether an MGB exists, we are debating whether the OA leads us to that conclusion. Necessity is simply a quality of an MGB, it bears no relevance to the OA.

Axiom S5 Modal Logic

If possibly P, then necessarily possibly P.
If possibly necessarily P, then necessarily P.

I have never heard of S5 model logic but I can not say that it is compelling. Rather then to put together an elaborate refutation, I will simply demonstrate my objection by inserting “Santa Claus exists” as “P”.

If possibly Santa Claus exists, then necessarily possibly Santa Claus exists.
If possibly necessarily Santa Claus exists, then necessarily Santa Clause exists.

I suppose children all over the world would be very happy to find this out. I hate to disappoint them, but Santa is not real. Logically speaking of course.

One more round Pro. Good luck.
Debate Round No. 4
shift4101

Pro

In Conclusion

I presented the OA to CON, who provided two major contentions; that the MGB simply exists because the argument says so, and that the wording in P2 and P3 or P3 and P4 were inconsistent. I agreed with the first premise with the example of Schrödinger' s cat, which demonstrated that P2 is simply reiterating possibility. His next contention is where this debate was at.

CON argued that "possible worlds" could only refer to actual worlds for the argument to make sense. To accept this, however, one would also require to demonstrate how P2 made sense if it isn't simply reiterating possibility, in which case it wouldn't make sense at all. At this point I introduced the concept of necessity to counter his rebuttal.

The axiom of S5 Modal Logic states this:

If possibly P, the necessarily possibly P.
If possibly necessarily P, the necessarily P.

My argument, I must admit, was poorly worded and didn't get my point across very well. All I was trying to say that if the MGB is possibly necessary, he must be necessary. However, to people with little knowledge in philosophy this would just cause them to dismiss the Axiom S5 and continue on with their days. So I will express the argument in more casual terms.

Let it be noted that if a MGB exists, he will also be necessary for existance of our world, since necessary > possible.

Our world must be one of two possible worlds, one where the MGB exists and one where he does not exist. But if it is possible that a MGB exists, in the world it would be necessary for him to exist. In a world where a MGB does not exist, this necessity of existence is not fulfilled, so that world is absurd and paridoxial, making the only possible world one where the MGB exists.

This follows straight from initial premise to conclusion, as we can see in the following:

1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.

Accepted claim. No arguments presented to counter.

2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

This is simply reiterating possibility. Not saying the MGB actually exists.

3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

Because the MGB is possibly necessary, he is necessary.

4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

If the MGB is necessary in every possible world, and our world is one of these possible worlds, he must exist in the actual world

5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.

No brainer

6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

Conclusion.

I believe I have shown enough evidence and thwarted my opponents argument sufficiently to have won this debate. I would like to thank Double_R for a wonderful debate, and hope to debate him some time in the future.

Final Note about the "Santa Clause"

Double_R concludes round 4 with a bit about S5 and Santa Clause, going like this:

If possibly Santa Claus exists, then necessarily possibly Santa Claus exists.
If possibly necessarily Santa Claus exists, then necessarily Santa Clause exists.


This is simply a confusion of terms. Possibly necessarily and necessarily possibly are not the same thing. Necessarily possibly means that it is necessary that it is possible, meaning unfalsifiably possible. I suppose it is a complicated way of saying anything is necessarily possible. Possibly necessarily means something completely different. Possibly necessarily means that if it is possible that something is required, then it is required. S5 doesn't directly state it, but it (somehow, I'm not really sure) is derived from the first premise, that if something is possible it is necessary that it is possible. For more info, heres a wikipedia link or two;

Axiom S5: http://en.wikipedia.org...;
S5 (modal logic): http://en.wikipedia.org...(modal_logic)
Double_R

Con

Pro hasn’t offered anything new in this last round other then a more in depth explanation of the same false (in my opinion) argument. I still do not believe that any of my concerns were addressed and will take this last round to reiterate why.


Pros entire argument at this point seems to rest on the concept of necessity. To support this he has shown Axiom S5 Model Logic. I admit that I have very little understanding of this logic, and while I am very doubtful that this concept is sound, I do recognize that it is possible I may be missing something very important. However it is Pros responsibility to make his case. If Pro is not properly demonstrating why Axiom S5 can be used to logically reach his conclusion then his argument should not be accepted.


As far as my “little knowledge in philosophy” was able to conclude, Pros argument of necessity was nothing more then a complicated way of saying that an MGB exists because Pro says so. I will use two of Pros statements in the last round to show why:


“In a world where a MGB does not exist, this necessity of existence is not fulfilled, so that world is absurd and paridoxial, making the only possible world one where the MGB exists.”


In the last round I pointed out how Pro has given no reason why an MGB is necessary for the world to exist, and asked Pro how he came to this conclusion. Pro did not respond, he simply reiterated that it is necessary which once again, is simply assuming its existence.


I think it is also important to note that this argument of comparing two possible worlds, one with and one without an MGB, is not in the OA Pro provided in round 1. So even if the reader accepts it, it still does not support the resolution that the OA is sound.


“Possibly necessarily means that if it is possible that something is required, then it is required.”


Does Pro dispute that anything is possible? I would certainly hope that he does not disagree with this very basic statement. However according to this argument not only is everything possible but everything actually does exist simply because it is possible. This would apparently mean that every God which has ever been prayed to does in fact exist. And if so then I ask; which one of them created the world? How is this not be paridoxial? I think it is clear that it is.


Conclusion


I see no reason to continue refuting Pros arguments, as it is all the same arguments that I have already addressed. This debate was about whether the argument presented in round one leads us to the conclusion that an MGB does exist. However I have made it very clear that Pro has shown no fluid connection without assuming the conclusion, then using this assumption to reach the conclusion. By this point you either agree or you don’t.


The OA is not sound.


I would like to thank Pro for this debate. I do think it has been interesting, and I wish him good luck.

Debate Round No. 5
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by modivarch 3 years ago
modivarch
As I said. Rhetorically, I was probably a good move, but the comment in and of itself was somewhat silly.
Posted by Double_R 3 years ago
Double_R
That wasn't the rationale. When I said "it is not compelling" I was refering to Pros description of it. This is a debate, it was his responsibility to explain his arguments convincingly, not mine to research them.
Posted by modivarch 3 years ago
modivarch
For my part it has nothing to do with being "into philosophy." Your comment is just ironic and that's all. Take the gist of your statement and fill it in with something different. For example, "I have never heard of quantum mechanics but I cannot say that it is compelling." Doesn't that sound kind of silly? Rhetorically, it's great as many others will hear someone spouting off about "S5" and haven't a clue either. However, to say it isn't compelling when you've never heard of it and, thus, don't understand it at all is just a ironic thing to say. Again, rhetorically it probably worked, but the rationale behind it...?
Posted by Double_R 3 years ago
Double_R
modivarch, Contradiction, or anyone else...

Is it really that hard for you people to believe that not everybody is into philosophy?
Posted by modivarch 3 years ago
modivarch
Ha! I see someone else noticed that line as well.
Posted by modivarch 3 years ago
modivarch
"I have never heard of S5 model logic but I can not say that it is compelling."

Wow...
Posted by wiploc 3 years ago
wiploc
I'd like to see it discussed further. You introduced S5 in round three, and until then I thought you were using the other move, relying on an as-yet-implicit definition of "maximally great" as something that exists in all possible worlds.

The arguments were confused enough that it might be good to discuss this in the forums before starting another debate on the topic.
Posted by shift4101 3 years ago
shift4101
While I do not think any of Con's objections hold water, I admit I fvcked up my final round to the extent of losing this debate.
Posted by BlackVoid 3 years ago
BlackVoid
Wait, Santa isn't real?
Posted by Double_R 3 years ago
Double_R
Contradiction, when this debate is over would you care to explain what is so funny?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by wiploc 3 years ago
wiploc
shift4101Double_RTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro claims that S5 makes gods exist. Con points out that then everything else has to exist too, by the same logic. But, Con points out, not all things exist; therefore there must be something wrong with S5. Victory Con.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 3 years ago
Maikuru
shift4101Double_RTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's chief argument was the possible vs. actual dispute, which seems to have stumped Pro. Rather than attack Con's reasoning directly, he instead shifts gears to necessity. Unfortunately, this concept is confusing and presented in a way that seemed tangential to the resolution. By the final round, the possible vs. actual issue was never fully addressed and thus stands. Other than arguments, all else is equal.